In response to the White House Task Force on Puerto Rico’s report on the island colony’s political status, US Congressman Luis Gutiérrez, an Illinois Democrat of Puerto Rican descent, said that report will not solve the island’s colonial problem and that it is the Puerto Rican people should demand a solution from Congress. Gutiérrez made these comments during a weekend visit to Puerto Rico.
The report does not say “and we will attack and implement the decision of the Puerto Rican people,” because it cannot say that. That is why the people must go to Congress and demand that it respects what the people will decide.
Gutiérrez also spoke out against his previous comments regarding human rights violations in both the Puerto Rican Bar Association and the University of Puerto Rico. He believes that the Puerto Rico will not stay silent, and that it will defend true democracy and justice.
I will also continue to defend [the Puerto Rican people] each and every time that a Puerto Rican is harmed.
Governor Luis Fortuño: “The Path is Clear”
Unlike Gutiérrez, Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño is supportive of the White House Report. On Saturday, Fortuño made his remarks public in his weekly address to Puerto Rico.
We summarized Fortuño’s remarks here:
[The report] offers a clear path to determine the final political status of Puerto Rico. Just like his previous predecessors, Democrats and Republicans alike, President Obama has given us important clarifications about our true alternatives regarding our status. In the first place, the report clearly indicates that Puerto Rico’s political status is something we need to resolve once and for now, just like the message he sending in 2009 during my inauguration. And just like previous administrations, President Obama’s report makes it clear that Puerto Rico right now is a territory subjected to Congressional jurisdiction as indicated by the territorial clause of the United States Constitution. The report also makes its clear that it does not matter how some politicians want to define or describe the current status that has been called the Associated Free State (ELA), any proposal to change or improve the current status of the ELA is under the powers of the United States Congress, as part of the territorial clause. In addition, the President’s report makes it very clear that that the idea of an “enhanced ELA” is impossible, and it specifically rejects the establishment of an agreement whose terms cannot be altered by the US Congress without consent of the Puerto Rican people. Finally, the report presents us with real alternatives and supports the realization of possible scenarios to reach the solution of this matter that we must solve.
The real options that are presented to us and simply summarized in the report in the following manner: ¿Do we want to be remain part of the United States or do we want to become independent? If we want to be a part of the United States, we will choose the territory or we will choose the state. If we want to become independent, we will choose independence or free association. Now that we have the President’s report in hand and taking into account his recommendations, this public servant will meet very soon with leaders of the island’s legislative branch to determine a path to follow that will be fully consistent with the report’s recommendations.
Meanwhile, our administration will continue to work closely with President Obama’s administration, just like we have been doing for the last two years, covering an array of issues that focus on the economy, education, energy, the environment, housing, health care, veterans, among other issues. It is gratifying to know that the President’s report recognizes the progress we have made in so many areas and in so little time. I hope to be the participant of an even great period of progress, just like the solution we are finding regarding the fundamental issue Puerto Rico’s status in the next few months. Remember: we can all create a better Puerto Rico.
Luis Vega Ramos: Remove Territorial Clause
Meanwhile, Luis Vega Ramos, the lead spokesperson of the island’s pro-commonwealth Popular Democratic Party (PPD), maintained that the territorial clause be eliminated from any discussion of the ELA or future status.
We have to insist that the future conception of the ELA not be a territorial relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States.
In addition, Vega Ramo expressed his concerns that the White House report did not include a concrete plan of action by the Executive branch.
For a complete video in Spanish of Vega Ramos’ comments, you can see the following video.