Puerto Rico is 'still a US colony’ and deserves self-determination, says Ocasio-Cortez

Puerto Rico is a “colony” which deserves self-determination according to Democratic Party congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who posted a tweet to mark the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria.

Ocasio-Cortez said that the island was “still a colony of the United States” because of its status as a territory, not a state, as well as its citizens’ lack of representation in congress and their inability to vote in presidential elections, despite being US citizens.

The 28-year-old candidate, who is running in New York’s 14th district, said that one year after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico was “still in [a] shambles” and that some kind of “self-determination” should be granted. “We must say that to fix it,” she added.

It’s not the first time Ocasio-Cortez has criticized the political status of Puerto Rico.

In February, she tweeted that Puerto Ricans “have been starved” due to a “shameful” federal response to two hurricanes which devastated the island last year, adding that the US government had “refused” to engage in any discussion about its status or potential statehood, or even independence.

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A woman pays respects at a collection of shoes left outside Puerto Rico's capitol to honor the victims of Hurricane Maria © Alvin Baez

In a letter this week, Governor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Rosselló, who advocates statehood for the territory, also referred to it as a colony and said its political status is “discriminatory and allows for the unequal treatment of natural-born US citizens”.

In the letter to US President Trump, he called the territory “the oldest, most populous colony in the world” and said that the federal government had made unfair decisions which had slowed the post-hurricane recovery in comparison to how disaster response happens in “other jurisdictions stateside”. Rosselló also appealed to Trump to “work together to abolish this century-old territorial-colonialism once and for all.”

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is currently looking into the complaints that the US is violating citizens’ rights by not granting them the same rights as those who live in the states.

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