31 January 2017

African Union criticises US for ‘taking many of our people as slaves’ and not taking refugees

Trump has suspended all US refugee programmes and banned immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, three of which are AU members

African Heads of State pose for a group photo ahead of the start of the 28th African Union summit in Addis Ababa on 30 January, 2017 AFP

The head of the African Union has criticised Donald Trump’s ban on immigration from some Muslim-majority countries, saying it presents “one of the greatest challenges” for the continent.

As representatives of the AU’s 53 member states met in Addis Ababa for a two-day summit, the chief of its commission said the bloc was entering “very turbulent times” after the US President’s election.

“The very country to which many of our people were taken as slaves during the transatlantic slave trade has now decided to ban refugees from some of our countries,” said Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.


ADDIS ABABA – A top African Union official denounced on Monday the United States’ recent travel ban affecting seven Muslim-majority countries, saying that the same country that once took African slaves by the million was now denying entry to refugees from the continent.

Chairperson of the AU Commission Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said that the ban decreed by US President Donald Trump was one of the greatest challenges to Africa’s unity and solidarity.

“The very country to which many of our people were taken as slaves during the transatlantic slave trade has now decided to ban refugees from some of our countries,” said Dlamini-Zuma at the AU’s annual summit held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

“What do we do about this?” she added.

The travel ban, which was issued on Friday, affects three African countries (Libya, Somalia and Sudan) as well as four nations in the Middle East (Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Iran).

Dlamini-Zuma declared that Trump’s executive order heralded “very turbulent times” for the continent.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who was also present at the summit, said that African countries host the largest refugee populations in the world.

“African borders remain open for those in need of protection when so many borders are being closed, even in the most developed countries in the world,” said Guterres, to the applause of the plenary assembly.

The executive order, titled “Protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States,” has caused domestic waves of outrage manifested in multitudinous protests across dozens of US airports.

It also drew sharp rebukes from various members of the international community, including several key US allies such as Canada and Germany.

30 January 2017

Independent Guam can succeed with United States

Michael Lujan Bevacqua

Michael Lujan Bevacqua is an author, artist, activist 
and assistant professor of Chamorro Studies at the University of Guam.

Photo: PDN file
In my own education on political status, this quote from the late Guam Sen. Frank Lujan in his article, “Sleeping Beauty: Times Passes By,” played a pivotal role in helping me see new and firmer truths, just beyond the colonial common sense:

“Those who defend Guam's colonial status argue that economic independence for Guam is impractical. We happen to agree. Guam by herself can never be economically independent. But nor can our great mother country the United States. There no longer is any such animal as an independent nation in the world today. ... All nations in the latter part of the 20th century are economically interdependent.”

There is so much to unpack in this simple quote, so much to discuss in terms of the way people misunderstand decolonization and independence.

Due to a resistance or a fear of change, they place onto the possibility of Guam all manner of fearful and unrealistic expectations. The ideas that independence for the island would mean isolation are particularly strange, given the fact that if you look at any of the almost 200 examples in the world today, all have relationships with other countries, through which they help each other.

Independence isn’t the end of existence, despite what some may feel — it is instead the beginning of international relations. It is the foundation for international interdependence.

On Guam today, we do not exist in interdependence with others, but rather a state of dependence. It is our colonial status that makes the difference.

Guam clearly has connections to other countries, but we are not the master of those connections and what we can negotiate is limited due to our status. Our connections depend primarily on our colonizer, the U.S. and their relationships to those around us, opening doors for us to some countries, closing doors to others. The U.S. exists in interdependence with those countries, making decisions based on its own vast interests. Sometimes Guam can benefit from those decisions, but that isn’t interdependence, that is coincidence.

The title of my column last week was Guam can succeed without the United States,” which argued that Guam can become independent and so much of the fear or hesitancy that people may feel has colonial roots and shouldn’t be taken as fact. The insight from Lujan’s quote, however, is that no one is successful as an independent country alone. Even if political independence is meant to guarantee a minimum level of self-government and sovereignty, success is all about forging a system of interdependence with your neighbors and allies.

Independence does not mean leaving the world behind, it means joining it. It does not mean breaking all ties with the United States, but could actually improve or enhance our relationship to the U.S. At present we are a regularly disrespected and largely forgotten colonial footnote to the U.S. We are their possession. Why not be an ally of the U.S. instead? Why not work with them as equals or as partners?

Given our closely connected history with the U.S., and our strategic importance to them, it is very likely that an independent Guam and the U.S. would be key allies in this region. In my opinion, this arrangement would be far better than our current status. At present, we are a colony that fantasizes about being a real part of the U.S. and refuses to deal with our true relationship. As an independent country we could create a partnership that was mutually beneficial and based on respect and shared interests.

Recent Bevacqua:

29 January 2017


Image result for OSCAR LÓPEZ RIVERA

Special Committee on Decolonization: Communiqué on the commutation of the sentence of Oscar López Rivera


The Special Committee on Decolonization welcomes and shares Puerto Rico’s joy over the release of independence leader Oscar López Rivera thanks to the united struggle and solidarity of the Puerto Rican people joined by various international personalities including Pope Francis. 

After serving 35 years of a 70-year sentence, his sentence was commuted by decision of the President Barack Obama.

The Special Committee on Decolonization requested of the Government of the United States of America the release of Oscar López Rivera by its decisions on the question of Puerto Rico adopted by consensus on 16 June 2015 and 16 June 2016. The Committee transmitted the latter decision to the United States Mission to the United Nations in New York by communication No. 000627 of 3 November 2016.

As part of the annual consideration of the question of Puerto Rico, for almost 40 years the Committee has been continuously requesting the release of Puerto Rican independence activists serving sentences in United States prisons, while at the same time reaffirming the inalienable right of the Puerto Rican people to self-determination and independence, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV), and the applicability of the fundamental principles of that resolution to the question of Puerto Rico.

The Special Committee on Decolonization, in response to the general outcry of the Puerto Rican population, coupled with the requests of prominent personalities, was unceasing in its demand that justice be done in the case of Oscar López Rivera, who became the longest-serving political prisoner in the world. In that connection, the Committee trusts that the release of Oscar López Rivera will take place within the established timeframe.

In the light of this important decision of the Government of the United States of America, and in line with the need to guarantee the legitimate right of the Puerto Rican people to self-determination and the protection of their human rights, the Special Committee on Decolonization reiterates its unequivocal commitment to the fulfilment of its mandate with regard to the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to ColonialCountries and Peoples.

28 January 2017

Puerto Rico Independence Party (PIP) denounces federal (U.S.) lobbying for coal ash disposal in Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN — Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) legislators Juan Dalmau and Denis Márquez scrutinized an “indignant and scandalous” Congress-issued letter addressed to Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, which lobbied to continue depositing coal ashes in Puerto Rico’s landfills.

Congressmen David B. McKinley and Alex X. Mooney from West Virginia sent a letter on January 17 asking the island’s chief executive to oppose legislations aimed to curb the disposal of coal combustion residuals (CCRs) in local landfills, after controversy ensued last year over its health and environmental impacts on neighboring communities.

Rep. Denis Márquez and Sen. Juan Dalmau, of the Puerto Rican Independence Party, affirmed that the local government must not succumb to federal pleas and prohibit coal ash deposits.

Márquez and Dalmau, of the local House and Senate, respectively, accused the federal officials of “intimidating” the governor and “responding to the interests of Applied Energy Services (AES),” a plant in Guayama that generates about 1,000 tons of ash daily that was in the middle of the Peñuelas Valley Landfill dispute that crossed party lines.

The pro-independence legislators affirmed that Puerto Rico can and should impose stricter CCR disposal laws, denouncing that the island’s “colonial subordination” is threatening to impose itself in this environmental issue. They insisted the local government must rebuke the congressmen’s “despotic” attitude, and place the people’s interests above federal pressure.

27 January 2017


MONDAY, 16th JANUARY, 2017

Charting Our Course: Positioning the Virgin Islands for the Future
Madame Speaker, I thank God for his mercies in allowing me to present my Government’s 2017 budget for the people of this Territory under the theme: Charting Our Course: Positioning the Virgin Islands for the Future.   

I do so with great pride in the presence of Elected Representatives, Senior Government Officials, Residents of this Territory and everyone who is listening to me via the various forms of media. 
Budget day is perhaps the most important date on the Government’s annual calendar of activities because it allows the Minister of Finance to outline the manner in which the Territory’s Finances are being managed for the benefit of the people who have sent us to this Honourable House to conduct their business.  
Madame Speaker, this budget is important for many reasons, among others, because it is being presented against the background of remarkable global changes.  For example, we have seen major international developments including Brexit, new and different leadership within the United States, significant regulatory changes and pressures to our financial services industry, all of which present varying degrees of challenges for BVI.  But equally, all have presented us with opportunities to improve our business, our infrastructure and our people.
Take the Brexit vote for the UK to leave the European Union, for example.  This surprised the global community and brought into question whether the future solitary posture of the UK will augur well for itself and its Overseas Territories.  Despite the questions, I see it as an opportunity for the BVI to seek a deeper and more meaningful dialogue with the United Kingdom, and I have endeavoured to do just that, Madame Speaker.
You will recall that my Government requested of the British Government that the BVI be included in the exit negotiations with the EU on those points that directly affect our industries and our future.  This, we feel, could set the stage for the deeper levels of dialogue which we seek. In fact, early in February, together with other Overseas Territories leaders, we will continue this important dialogue at a Brexit OT's Conference in the United Kingdom.
Madame Speaker, the BVI, with the remainder of the world, anxiously await the Trump presidency.  Why?  Because the North American market supplies the overwhelming majority of the tourists who visit our shores, and most of our trade is done within that market.  A challenge?  Surely, but also an opportunity! 

26 January 2017

Experts For College Lecture Series in British Virgin Islands

Dr. Carlyle Corbin
Photo Credit: United Nations
Former Minister of State for the External Affairs of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Dr. Carlyle Corbin is scheduled to kick off the 2017 Lecture Series, hosted by the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College on January 26.

Dr. Corbin, who is an international advisor on global governance, will join with legal expert Mr. Gerard Farara QC, where together, they will speak on the topic of “The Constitutional and Political Model for the Strategic Development of the BVI”.

The series will continue on February 16, on the topic of “Brexit and the Overseas Territories: Impact and Options for the BVI”, which will be led by Dr. Peter Clegg, Acting Head of Department and Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations, University of the West of England, Bristol.

On March 16th, Dr. Rhoda Reddock, former Head of the Centre for Gender and Development Studies and Principal of the St. Augustine Campus of UWI will speak in celebration of International Women’s Day.

On April 20th, Dr. Max Hiliare, Professor & Chair of the Department of Political Science at Morgan State University, USA will headline the topic “Trump Presidency: Impact on the Caribbean and BVI”.

Other topics for the series will be on Family Structure and Values, Sustainable Environment, and Cultural Expression and Youth.

The Lecture Series is focused on getting the community engaged in purposeful discussions on topics affecting the Territory. Each guest speaker has established a reputation that informs audiences in unique and powerful ways. HLSCC aims to leverage the influence of the series guest speakers to ignite more informed dialogue in the community.

23 January 2017

Effects of Jones Act on Guam consumer prices to be examined by Territory's Independence Task Force in January General Assembly

Independent Guåhan to discuss Jones Act, 

To honor late Anthony L.G.

Independent Guåhan invites the public to its monthly General Assembly on Thursday, Jan. 26, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the main pavilion of the Chamorro Village in Hagåtña. For this first General Assembly of the year, the focus will be on the Jones Act and how Guam’s economy has been inhibited by this colonial imposition.

Jones Act

The Merchant Marine Act, also known as the Jones Act, passed in 1920. The act is designed to protect U.S. shipbuilding and maintain a vibrant American maritime industry. It requires that trade of goods between U.S. ports, including those in the territories, be conducted on ships built, owned and crewed in the U.S., and by U.S. citizens and permanent residents. 

This act has led to an artificial inflation of prices on goods sold in places such as Guam. Such places are unable to take advantage of being in closer proximity to foreign countries that may have comparable and more affordable services. The educational presentation for this month’s meeting will discuss how this act negatively affects our economy and explores the opportunities for economic growth that Guam could achieve as an independent country.

Leader and advocate

Independent Guåhan will also honor the late Anthony Leon Guerrero, former president of the Bank of Guam, as part of the monthly Maga’taotao Series. Leon Guerrero is best known for his role in helping the Bank of Guam, the bank his father Jesus Leon Guerrero helped found, to become the first Guam-based business to be traded on the New York Stock Exchange. In addition, Leon Guerrero was a strong Chamorro cultural advocate, helping to found both the Guam Humanities Council and Guampedia. 

He was also highly critical of Guam’s unincorporated political status, and strongly favored increased independence for the island. As he wrote in an essay, "If we are to develop our economy, we will have to do it ourselves. The colonizers not only do not help in economic development, they discourage it, either through direct actions or by setting up systems that makes us dependent on their continuing activities.”

For more information, contact Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua at (671) 988-7106, email independentguahan@gmail.com or visit www.independentguahan.com.

22 January 2017

U.S. and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Special Representatives Transmit 902 Consultations Report to Congress


WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 17, 2017) – U.S. Special Representative Esther Kia’aina and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Special Representative, Governor Ralph Torres, transmitted the 902 Consultations Report to Congressional leaders today. The report is the culmination of eight months of official consultations, informal discussions, and site visits to locations in the CNMI, a U.S. territory in the Western Pacific region.

The 902 Consultations process began on May 19, 2016, when President Obama designated Esther Kia’aina, the Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas, as the U.S. Special Representative for 902 Consultations. These discussions are authorized by Section 902 of the Covenant to Establish the CNMI in Political Union with the United States of America. The U.S. and CNMI Special Representatives agreed to focus on two critical issues raised by the CNMI: (1) the expiration in 2019 of the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker (CW) program; and (2) proposed military activities in the CNMI.

The first meeting occurred at the White House on June 6, 2016, and was followed by mid-June site visits to the CNMI islands of Saipan and Tinian to see businesses and construction sites impacted by the limited number of foreign workers, facilities working to train and grow the U.S. worker population, and areas impacted by the expansion of military training. Meetings with elected officials and affected members of the community as well as the site visits, provided first-hand knowledge to the Special Representatives and their teams of the economic challenges facing the CNMI people, government, and private industry. This was followed by official 902 Consultations in August, September, October, and December, and an historic trip to the remote northern island of Pagan on September 30.

The consultations and site visits were the basis for this report which reflects the views of both the U.S. and the CNMI and concludes with recommendations that both sides agreed would help the CNMI transition to a U.S. workforce and help advance the national security concerns of the U.S. in the dynamic Asia-Pacific region. 

On the issues of immigration and labor, the Special Representatives agreed to several recommendations for action to address the need for workers and a stable economy in the CNMI. 

This included:

- Extending the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker (CW) Program Beyond 2019,

- Restoring the Executive Branch’s Authority to Extend the CW program with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as the lead department,

- Raising the CW Cap to 18,000 Increasing Foreign Workers allowed in the CNMI,

- Providing a Permanent Immigration Status for Long-Term Guest Workers,

- Considering Immigration Policies to Address Regional Labor Shortages in the CNMI and Guam,

- Extending Eligibility to the CNMI for federal Workforce Development Programs,

- Urging DHS to solicit information from stakeholders and interested parties in the CNMI on what regulatory changes should be made to the CW program in order to improve and better address the workforce needs of the CNMI, and

- Endorsing a Cooperative Working Relationship between DHS and the CNMI.

On the issue of proposed military activities in the CNMI, the Special Representatives and their teams reviewed the history of military activities in the CNMI, the original military plans for Tinian, and significant DoD projects in recent years (the Guam and CNMI Military Relocation Project, the Mariana Islands Training and Testing Project, the Air Force’s Divert Activities and Exercise Project, and the CNMI Joint Military Training Project (CJMT).

CNMI concerns focused on the: 

(1) Potential Inconsistences between the CJMT and the CNMI Covenant, the Technical Agreement, and the 1983 Lease Agreement; 

(2) Potential Impacts of the CJMT on the CNMI’s Economic Self-Sufficiency; 

(3) The Need to Ensure Meaningful Opportunities for the CNMI to Participate in the Decision-Making Affecting the Commonwealth; and 

(4) Appropriate Compensation for Military Activity on Farallon de Medinilla.

The Special Representatives, who credited the 902 Consultations process for strengthening relations between the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the CNMI Government, recommended the creation of a CNMI/DoD Coordinating Council, which will institutionalize a process and improve communications and relations between DoD and the Commonwealth. This Coordinating Council addresses concerns by the CNMI that conversations with DoD should take place outside and beyond the required environmental analysis processes and gives territorial leaders a forum to engage in open communication to bridge disagreements and resolve issues.

The Special Representatives also agreed:

- To Identify Instances where Military Infrastructure Planning can be Coordinated with and Support Civilian Infrastructure Needs;

- That DoD will share the Framework for the Revised Economic Analysis as part of the CJMT Revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), and confer with the CNMI on the Draft Economic Analysis before the Revised DEIS is released;

- To make Economic Impacts an Agenda Item for future CNMI/DoD Coordinating Council discussions.

“It has been an honor to represent the United States for this process,” said U.S. Special Representative Esther Kia’aina. “This joint report reflects the strength of the U.S.-CNMI relationship and will provide federal policymakers in the Executive Branch and the Congress with a roadmap on how to best address important issues that have a tremendous impact on the economy and overall well-being of the CNMI people.”

“It was truly an honor to work alongside my federal government counterpart, Assistant Secretary Esther Kia'aina, in this significant endeavor for the people of the CNMI,” said CNMI Special Representative Ralph Torres. “I thank President Barack Obama for allowing the CNMI an opportunity to voice our concerns and have those concerns be incorporated into the Report's final recommendations. This is an important and historic event in our relationship with the Federal Government and is one that will continue to provide for greater understanding of the critical issues facing the CNMI going forward.”

Since the Covenant was fully implemented in 1986, several 902 Consultations have been initiated. This is the first known 902 Consultations to result in a report to the President that has been transmitted to Congress.

20 January 2017

Marianas Senate President wants reversal of support for U.S. marine sanctuary

Palacios wants Torres to rescind support of marine sanctuary

By Mark Rabago  

Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan), who is currently the acting governor of the CNMI, opposes a proposal to overlay the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument with another protected designation—this time as a marine sanctuary—and wants Gov. Ralph DLG Torres to rescind his letter supporting the move.

“I’ve avoided talking publicly about it because after talking with the governor I found out late that he’s supporting this. But I have a totally different perspective…I want the governor to rescind his letter supporting the designation of the Marianas Trench Marine Monument into a marine sanctuary,” he said yesterday on Capital Hill.

“So what is that going to improve? Why is the marine monument, with supposedly all its restriction for conservation, can transpose to a better situation by making it and calling it now a marine sanctuary? What’s the difference?” he asked.

Palacios, who used to be a Lands and Natural Resources secretary and worked for years at the Division of Fish and Wildlife, said the Marianas Trench’s marine sanctuary designation would only build on what the marine monument designation successfully did to the people of the Marianas, which further restricted their rights to fish in the area, among others.

“What’s going to happen is the new proposal expands the boundary of the original monument. The island units will supposedly go all the way up to the 200-mile zone boundary instead of 50 miles. Right now, with the monument in the open oceanic areas you can still fish for pelagic fishes—migratory species like tuna in the water column. If the sanctuary kicks in, it proposes that we will no longer be able fish within the water column. So what is it are we trying to do here other than put restrictions and boundaries and expand these boundaries and call it now a marine sanctuary.”

Torres and Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) wrote to President Barrack Obama in September 2016 requesting that the government start the sanctuaries process for the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument through the Sanctuaries Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

According to the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy project, becoming a national marine sanctuary would provide the monument with a more robust conservation and management profile as well as bring more resources for education and community engagement in the Northern Mariana Islands.

It said the CNMI Legislature has written to the President in support of the governor and the delegate’s request, as has nearly every other elected official in the Commonwealth.

Last month, Marianas Conservation member John Gourley wrote to Obama to dissuade the outgoing president from designating the Mariana Trench as a marine sanctuary on top of being a national monument.

In his letter Gourley said once the Mariana Trench is declared a marine sanctuary on top of being a marine national monument, it will require those who wish to fish or mine in the area to obtain permission from the federal government twice—one for the trench being a national monument and another for the trench being a marine sanctuary.

La Estrategia Estatal por Puerto Rico

La estrategia del siglo XVIII que Puerto Rico quiere usar para ser admitido por Washington como el estado 51 de EE.UU.

Puerto RicoDerechos de autor de la imagenREUTERS
Image captionRosselló anunció que buscará que Washington admita a la isla como el estado número 51 de la Unión.

El nuevo gobernador del territorio estadounidense de Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló, lleva apenas unas cuantas horas en su cargo.
Pero ya ha anunciado que buscará que Washington admita a la isla como el estado número 51 de la Unión.
Para lograrlo, asegura que el camino es seguir es el llamado Plan Tennessee: una estrategia de presión como la que empleó el estado del mismo nombre a finales del siglo XVIII para lograr que Estados Unidos le dejara entrar a la federación, aún cuando Washington no estaba muy convencido de ello.
El plan contempla nombrar a representantes que irán al Congreso federal a defender la aspiración de Puerto Rico de integrarse definitivamente a esa nación.
Y eventualmente pasa por llevar a cabo un referéndum en el que los puertorriqueños expresen de una vez por todas si quieren ser parte plena del gigante norteamericano.

Territorio asociado

Bandera de Puerto Rico y Estados UnidosDerechos de autor de la imagenGETTY IMAGES
Image captionEl gobierno puertorriqueño busca la unión con Washington

Puerto Rico lleva más de un siglo siendo un territorio estadounidense, sin independencia pero tampoco con las ventajas y el estatus que tienen los demás estados.
En su discurso de posesión en San Juan, el gobernador Rosselló dijo que el estatus "colonial" actual de Puerto Rico no es conveniente.
Algunos incluso culpan a ese estatus legal de la crisis económica que experimenta la isla, la peor en décadas.
Puerto Rico no tiene acceso a toda la ayuda federal de la que disponen los otros estados de EE.UU.
Por lo que muchos creen que la solución es la admisión plena a Estados Unidos.
Pero no hay claridad en que Washington esté dispuesto a recibir a la isla como el estado 51.
Hay consideraciones políticas. En el Partido Republicano algunos temen que admitir a Puerto Rico sería otorgarle una ventaja al Partido Demócrata.
Los puertorriqueños que viven en el territorio continental de Estados Unidos tienden a votar demócrata.
Y si la isla se convirtiese en estado, automáticamente tendría derecho a dos senadores federales, que podrían desequilibrar la reñida competencia que se da en la legislatura de Washington entre los dos partidos principales de Estados Unidos.

Puerto RicoDerechos de autor de la imagenREUTERS

El plan Tennessee

El gobernador Rosselló prometió en su campaña que de llegar al poder, implementaría el Plan Tennessee al comienzo de su mandato.
El mandatario, cuyo Partido Nuevo Progresista (PNP) defiende la opción de unirse a Washington como un estado con derechos plenos, asegura que esa alternativa es la que goza de simpatía mayoritaria en Puerto Rico
"Pero el Congreso federal es el que decide si un nuevo estado es admitido a la Unión", le dice a BBC Mundo Carlos Colón de Armas, catedrático de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, quien hizo parte de la "Comisión Estadista", un panel que asesoró durante la campaña al entonces candidato Rosselló en la elaboración del plan a favor de la estadidad.
Colón de Armas asegura a BBC Mundo que ya ha habido una expresión de la voluntad de Puerto Rico, en un referendo no vinculante llevado a cabo en 2012. En su primera pregunta, la consulta preguntaba si estaban de acuerdo con el estatus actual. La mayoría votó en contra.
Pero hay controversia sobre los resultados de la segunda pregunta de esa consulta, que preguntaba específicamente si los electores apoyaban la opción de volverse estado o prefería la independencia u otros escenarios.

Bandera de Puerto RicoDerechos de autor de la imagenGETTY IMAGES
Image captionLa mayoría de los puertorriqueños no votaron por la independencia.

Un elevado número de votos en blanco y otros factores han llevado a dudas sobre la solidez del resultado a favor de la estadidad.
El Congreso estadounidense no se manifestado en torno al referendo de 2012.
Por lo que, según le dice Colón de Armas a BBC Mundo, se espera que el nuevo gobierno de la isla anuncie en los próximos días un mecanismo por el cual se designen varios voceros de Puerto Rico que presionarían a las autoridades federales en Washington. Así hizo Tennessee en el siglo XVIII, cuando eligió a sus representantes al Congreso antes que esa región hubiera sido admitida como estado.
Colón de Armas asegura que la actual representante oficial de Puerto Rico ante el Congreso en Washington, quien tiene voz pero no voto en esa entidad, también presentará un proyecto de ley pidiendo el fin al estatus "colonial" de Puerto Rico.
Todo esto debería plasmarse eventualmente, alega el experto, en un "acta de admisión", mediante el cual el Congreso federal expresaría en detalle cuales son las condiciones exactas en las que Puerto Rico entraría a la Unión, y presentaría a los votantes de la isla la oportunidad de aceptarlas o rechazarlas en un referendo definitivo.

No hay consenso

No todos en Puerto Rico están de acuerdo en la validez o viabilidad de esta estrategia.
Durante la campaña por la gobernación, Ángel Rosa, otro legislador puertorriqueño, calificó de "embeleco" el plan Tennessee y en declaraciones a medios locales pronosticó que el Congreso estadounidense haría caso omiso a la presión por expresarse sobre el estatus de Puerto Rico y negó que existiese un apoyo mayoritario en la isla a la opción de volverse un estado.
"El resultado de la consulta de 2012 no es una clara victoria para la estadidad... Los números confunden", dice también a BBC Mundo el abogado y experto analista en política puertorriqueña Phillip Escoriaza.

San JuanDerechos de autor de la imagenGETTY IMAGES
Image captionLa isla experimenta una fuerte crisis económica.

El analista cree, sin embargo, que claramente hay una mayoría de personas que no están de acuerdo con el arreglo actual entre Washington y San Juan, y que hay un impulso creciente a favor de la opción de volverse estado.
Pero incluso si ese apoyo se concretara en Puerto Rico, asegura Escoriaza a BBC Mundo, el proceso de conseguir ser admitido en la Unión podría tomar muchos años, si se examinan otros antecedentes históricos de ingreso de territorios a Estados Unidos.


Carlos Colón de Armas aseguró a BBC Mundo que, en caso de no funcionar la estrategia "Tennessee" para convencer al Congreso en Washington, también se ha planteado la posibilidad de que Puerto Rico convoque por iniciativa propia a un nuevo referendo en donde la gente escogería entre las opciones de volverse estado y buscar la independencia total.
En referendos pasados, una porción muy pequeña de los votantes, inferior al 10%, se han inclinado por la independencia.
La mayoría se debaten entre mantener el estatus actual y pedir convertirse en el estado 51.
El experto no cree que las traumáticas sorpresas que se dieron en varios referendos y elecciones en 2016 sean una razón para temer a hacer un referendo en Puerto Rico, incluso si resultara en un voto por la separación total de Estados Unidos.
"A lo único que se le puede temer es al estatus actual, que es una violación de los derechos de los puertorriqueños", le dice Carlos Colón de Armas a a BBC Mundo.

19 January 2017

European Union ignores its own Court of Justice on Western Sahara

First ship to challenge EU Court ruling on occupied Western Sahara
On the evening of 5 January 2017, the vessel Key Bay entered the waters of Western Sahara. After waiting for green light outside of El Aaiun port the whole day of today, the vessel moved in to the port around 6PM this evening, European time. 

The vessel is well known to Western Sahara Resource Watch. Key Bay, and its sister vessels have for many years transported fish oil from Western Sahara into Europe. It is the first known vessel to challenge the EU and its member states on how to relate to the imports of goods from Western Sahara, following a landmark decision by the Court of Justice of the EU on 21 December 2016

The judgement ruled, pointing to the International Court of Justice and to UN resolutions,  that Western Sahara is not part of Morocco, and that the EU-Morocco trade deal cannot apply to Western Sahara. 

The vessel earlier this week did a stop-over in the Southern Moroccan town of Tan Tan, possibly to pick up a fish oil cargo there on the way to El Aaiun, where it would load more of the same product. The last time Key Bay did a shipment from Western Sahara to Europe was in September 2016. 

The importer of the product from the occupied territory is most likely Olvea, a French company which refuses to answer questions regarding the trade. 

The vessel in question is chartered by Sea Tank Chartering and owned by Gezina AS, both companies from Norway. The involvement of the two companies caused headlines in Scandinavian media in the past. At that time, the vessel picked up the Moroccan certificates of origin in Tan Tan, and the cargo itself in El Aaiun. 

WSRW earlier today, while the vessel was still anchored outside of El Aaiun port, WSRW sent a letter to the charterer of the vessel asking it to not enter the port itself. See that letter here. 

A letter had already on 31 December been sent from the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara to Sea Tank, requesting them not to take part in the trade (in Norwegian). The vessel was already then heading southwards along the coast of Morocco. 

In 2010, the transports of fish oil in the same vessels to Norway created a long award-winning documentary on Swedish broadcaster SVT. In the political debate that followed, the Norwegian government stated that such products cannot enter Norway under the EFTA-Morocco free trade pact, as Western Sahara is not Morocco. 

Then, most of the export shifted from Scandinavia to France. But what happens when the Court stated the same as Norway - that Western Sahara is not part of the EU trade agreement either? 

WSRW has not received confirmation about where the vessel now is heading, but statistically speaking, this vessel will now transport the oil to Fécamp in Normandy, France.