Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has proposed Puerto Rico’s inclusion in a free trade agreement for the Caribbean and South America. Maduro, who supports independence for Puerto Rico, wants to include the island in both Petrocaribe and CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) agreements, according to a report in the Caracas daily El Universal.
Puerto Rico, however — as a territory of the United States — does not have legal authority to enter into formal international agreements, as goes for the states. Those authorities are specifically vested in the president, with the advice and consent of a supermajority of Congress, according to the US Constitution.
Allowing special membership in such groups may allow the Commonwealth to side-step such restrictions. However, it is an unambiguous push for greater separation between Puerto Rico and the United States.
It is also a move that may embolden the socialist Puerto Rico Independence Party and their collectivist allies within the pro-commonwealth Popular Democratic Party. Previous PDP Governor Sila Calderon had invited Hugo Chávez, Maduro’s predecessor, to her inauguration.
While independence under a republican democracy with strong protections for individual and natural rights is something I wholly support, one can only be leery of intervention by socialist leaders into the internal and future affairs of the US territory.