Statement on Decolonization

This statement was approved by DSA’s National Political Committee (NPC).

DSA is committed to the full decolonization of all the occupied lands of the United States: self-determination and full sovereignty for Hawai’i; Puerto Rico; Amerika Sāmoa (American Samoa); Guåhån (Guam); Northern Mariana Islands; Virgin Islands; and to all indigenous nations whose ancestral lands are within current U.S. borders; as well as to the independence to all other overseas territories and dependencies controlled, occupied, or otherwise exploited by the USA.

This commitment includes the following actions:

  • DSA will work to build a movement in solidarity with and alongside those oppressed peoples and their own political formations, conscious and respectful of their own leadership and organization, against all forms of colonialism and imperialism;
  • DSA will establish a Decolonization Working Group to facilitate anti-imperialist and decolonization politics within the organization;
  • DSA will work to overturn the Insular Cases (1901) that created the colonial status of the territories acquired from Spain following the Spanish-American War and all other laws and legal rulings that maintain the colonial status quo. DSA will work for the release of all political prisoners incarcerated for their resistance to U.S. imperialism;
  • DSA will support and work with the people of Puerto Rico in extricating themselves from the strictures of the Jones Act (1920) and related acts of the 1910s and 1920s that established U.S. control over shipping to Puerto Rico. At the same time DSA will work to expand labor protections found within that original act dealing with the rights of seafarers, fishers, and agricultural workers;
  • DSA will work with colonized peoples for the forgiveness of all debts and reparations to the survivors of this exploitation, as well as their descendants, so as to allow the free political expression of the oppressed of these peoples;
  • DSA stands for the total dissolution of the United States empire.

Background Information

The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is dedicated to a world free of exploitation and oppression leading to the liberation of all people from capitalism and imperialism.

The U.S. is a prison house of nations founded on genocide, built by slavery, maintained by exploitation, and expanded through conquest.

The U.S. comprises many nations, recognized and unrecognized, including but not limited to the indigenous nations within the current continental U.S. borders, among them Hawaiʻi, Puerto Rico, Amerika Sāmoa, Guåhån, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands, lands occupied by military bases and installations, and other so-called “overseas territories” of the USA.

Just to provide an example: after the U.S. conquered Puerto Rico, which has the largest population of the oppressed nations within the United States territories, Puerto Rico’s economy, which had been based on a mix of small landowners and subsistence farmers, was transformed into an agro-industrial economy dominated by U.S. companies. Later, in the 1940s, the U.S. policy Operation Bootstrap promoted a manufacturing sector (combined with the forced sterilization of many Puerto Rican women), but one limited to manufacturing industries that benefited U.S. transnational corporations. Puerto Rico was never allowed to define its own economic destiny by, for example, negotiating bilateral trade agreements. Puerto Rico also has had to adhere to fiscal policy directed by the United States. U.S. control has meant stunting the country’s productive base while extracting profits for U.S. corporations. Recent changes in the U.S. tax code have caused the loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs and have been one of the factors leading to the current crisis.

In addition, the federal government has not adequately addressed the serious environmental legacy problems stemming from U.S. military exercises in Puerto Rico. There has been a decades-long pattern of delay and inaction when it comes to remediating the environmental problems that were left behind by the U.S. Navy on the island of Vieques and elsewhere.

The Democratic Socialists of America calls on the U.S. Congress to support the right of the oppressed nations to self-determination, including the right to define their relationship with the United States in accordance with international law.

DSA gives its full commitment to decolonization, deoccupation, demilitarization, and full repatriation of indigenous lands, policies that are essential to ensuring a socially just and environmentally sustainable future.