14ymedio, Madrid, 27 March 2023 — Miguel Díaz-Canel’s passage through the Dominican Republic during the XXVIII Ibero-American Summit resulted in a dispute with the Governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi, who was upset on Saturday night by the Cuban President’s allusion to the independence of that territory associated with the United States.
“We reaffirm the historic commitment to the self-determination and independence of the people of Puerto Rico,” Díaz-Canel said in a speech in which there was also no lack of defense of the absent leaders of Nicaragua and Venezuela, ideological partners of Havana, or support for the recovery of the Malvinas [Falkland Islands] for Argentina.
The words did not sit well with the Puerto Rican governor, and, a few hours later, he showed his discomfort on Facebook. “Last night I was at the inaugural events of the Ibero-American Summit at the invitation of my friend, the President of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader. I returned to Puerto Rico early this morning and did not participate in the work of the Summit because, as Governor of Puerto Rico, I am not a member of it,” Pierluisi began.
“Although my presence was limited to such activity, I cannot ignore the words of the President of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, calling for the independence of Puerto Rico in today’s session,” continued the leader of the New Progressive Party and the Democratic Party of the United States.
After this preamble, Pierluisi defends the current status of Puerto Rico and lashes out at the Cuban president. “Here we believe in democracy, and the desire of the majority of our people in favor of Statehood and Equality under the flag of the United States must be respected.”
“I recommend that you focus on freeing your own citizens from the yoke of communism, which has only brought poverty and pain to the Cuban people,” he said.
A few hours later, Díaz-Canel went to vote this Sunday at his polling station in Santa Clara where a Puerto Rican journalist from the newspaper Claridad asked him, not about the controversy with Pierluisi, but about the position of the United States against the vote on March 26 to elect the new deputies of the National Assembly. The Cuban president was, as usual, indignant with Washington, to which he attributed a “hostile narrative that is imaginary, slanderous, a fantasy, provocative and untrue.”
The Cuban leader considered that the United States is annoyed that Havana does not follow its dictates as, he let drop, happens in other countries. “We are so sovereign and so independent, so our own… that we do not have to submit to an opinion of the US embassy because for us it does not influence anything that we are doing; we work from our convictions,” he added.
The Cuban press omitted information this Sunday about the dispute, but at midnight on Monday, Prensa Latina did release a statement from the Hostosian National Independence Movement (MINH), a Puerto Rican left-wing and pro-independence organization closely linked to Havana and with little political representation in its own territory. In that text, the MINH reproaches Pierluisi for his words towards Díaz-Canel and is grateful that he attracted attention to “the colonial case of Puerto Rico and its inalienable right to self-determination and independence.”
“Governor Pierluisi should feel embarrassed because Puerto Rico cannot participate in that important event [the Ibero-American Summit], due to its status as a colony of the United States,” says the report, which describes the “unconditionality” of the governor toward the United States as humiliating.
“His pathetic denial of the Caribbean and Latin American condition of our Homeland provokes the contempt and rejection of the governments of independent countries participating in the Summit,” the statement adds, without giving a single example of his assertion.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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