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The following column by Oscar Pintado Rodríguez was published in Spanish in the April 12 edition of El Nuevo Día, Puerto Rico’s largest circulation newspaper. We have provided a translation into English. Pintado Rodríguez expresses the opinions of the island’s Alliance for Free Association (ALAS in Spanish) and how this non-political party will use the proposed upcoming status plebiscites to educate Puerto Rican voters about the option of free association, one of three options being recommended (independence and statehood are the other two) by the White House report.

The Alliance for Free Association (ALAS) announced that the upcoming consultations (referendums) are a good opportunity to educate people about the option of free association. We are a group of private citizens organized to educate others about this option of decolonization.That is why we do not have the weight that political parties carry in the electoral interests.

We believe that status must be keep out of the elections and the hands of political parties. Our participation is conditional and that the definition of free association is consistent with international law, the conditions of participation are equitable to the representatives of all the alternatives and that the definitions of the options are based on the reality of relations between Puerto Rico and the U.S..

This involves the inclusion of a provision of dual citizenship for Puerto Ricans. However, if the Popular Democratic Party (PPD) wants to defend this provision, I’m sure ALAS would not have qualms to disband and join the PDP.

However, since we are not a political party nor do we want to be, we can not be asked to think and act with electoral interests in mind. Consequently, our good friends from the Popular Party cannot pretend to grant ALAS responsibilities that show our allegiance to the PPD, or any other political party. The proposed referendum has to have options that are non-colonial and non-territorial. The colonial commonwealth will not be on the ballot. We have always claimed that we want to decolonize Puerto Rico. In fact, the Obama report recognizes the territorial nature of the current commonwealth.

However, trying to put it in as an option of decolonization is a clear violation of international law. If the definition of free association, as I said before, meets, according to ALAS, current standards of international law, we will represent, defend and spread our message to educate our people.

Puerto Ricans who believe in sovereignty should not miss this opportunity to place free association as a legitimate option for the future.

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In his budget speech to the Puerto Rican Congress this week, Republican and pro-statehood Governor Luis Fortuño closed his remarks with his most detailed public remarks about the colony’s political status question and the recent White House Report that presents the island’s options for a status plebiscite. What follows is an English translation of Fortuño’s remarks.

Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño

Governor Luis Fortuño’s Budget Address to Puerto Rican Congress, April 12, 2011

Status
The White House report contains another issue of great importance, and even though it is not something that we think about every day, it affects ALL aspects of our lives… the issue of our status, or the issue of our relationship with the United States, a nation of which we are citizens.

For the first time in more than 112 years, the United States, through its President, has placed the route we must follow in black and white, and they are willing to accept, to resolve, once and for all, the issue of our political status. It is a HISTORIC opportunity we cannot miss.

In Puerto Rico we have already achieved a consensus that the status issue must be resolved soon. Every day we see more clearly that the status issue—which has so divided us as a people—is the main obstacle to move forward TOGETHER. For example, in recent days a group of non-partisan economic experts said that Puerto Rico has been in decline for the past 50 years. Forget about if our current status brought or not brought us benefits in the past, the fact is that today, during these time even those who have historically defended the Commonwealth, say it no longer serves us and must be changed. This is what they presented in their election platform during the last elections.

Those who want independence, obviously do not agree with our current status. And those who believe in getting all the rights and powers that we would have as American citizens under statehood, don’t either. In short, EVERYONE, including all political parties, agrees that we must change our status NOW. And you also know.

The main reason why our current status does not work is because we do not have the tools and powers that we need to move forward. On that we all agree. The White House report clearly states, on page 26 that our present political status is a United States territory, subject to the territorial clause of the federal Constitution. That means that we do not have the necessary powers to progress, or we would have if we were a state, nor that we would if we were a republic, either fully independent or in a relationship of free association.

These three alternatives—statehood, independence and free association—are the three alternatives that all nations of the world accept, and that the same White House Report recognizes as non-colonial and non-territorial. The report clearly says that only these three alternatives, and NO OTHERS, are those that would be available to us, and they would be granted, if we change what we have now. In fact, the report rejects outright the notion of an “improved” Commonwealth that has no place in the American constitutional system.

The report also says, however, that the people must be given the opportunity to vote for NO CHANGE. Also the report says that although our present Commonwealth status is that of a territory under the powers of the federal Congress, if that’s what the People of Puerto Rico want, they have the option to maintain it.

Many people in my party disagree with this. The Independence Party leadership also disagrees. They say that if the Commonwealth IS THE PROBLEM, it cannot be the solution and therefore should not be among the options that are submitted to the people. But like it or not, the White House report says clearly that the people of Puerto Rico have the right to choose “no change”, so let’s ensure that people can choose the Commonwealth as it is: a territory within the territorial clause of the federal Constitution, as the report states.

The report presents a series of options on how to consult with the people regarding this status issue status in a fair and transparent way.

One option, the report details in page 28, offers two consultations. In the first, you would have the opportunity to choose between three options for change of status that the White House report and international law recognize as non-colonial and non-territorial alternatives: statehood, independence and free association. Then in the second consultation, you can decide whether to change or to not change. In other words, you can choose the option to change status to win in the first consultation and the alternative of staying as we are, without any change, in the second consultation.

In summary, there are two consultations: the first would choose between three options for change of non-territorial and non-colonial status that United States would be willing to grant (statehood, independence or free association) and the second would choose if we want to change or remain as is.

After analyzing this and other options set out in the report, I have decided that this alternative is the fairest for everyone in Puerto Rico to express their will directly and transparently.

First, as recommended by the report, the two consultations will give the people the opportunity to exercise their right to vote directly and secretly, as we do during elections in Puerto Rico. The resolution of our status is a decision that should take you directly to the power of the vote not and not to and assembly composed of politicians meeting in dark rooms.

Second, as recommended by the report, consultations all eligible voters in Puerto Rico may vote. We are united by close ties with our Puerto Rican brothers living in the rest of the U.S. and other countries, but the report acknowledges that the decision on the future status of Puerto Rico is the responsibility of those living on the island.

Third, EVERYONE in Puerto Rico can vote for their preferred alternative: those who want statehood, those who want independence, those who want free association, and those who want that we stay as we are. ALL have the opportunity to choose the option they prefer.

Fourth, as recommended by the report, give enough time for towns to receive all information you need to make an informed and thoughtful decision. For this, we proposed that the first consultation to take place in November of this year and the second consultation by early 2013.

In recent days, leaders of the Popular Party and the Independence Party have spoken out against this proposal of consulting with the people on this important issue of status. This is not surprising. This is what some political leaders have done in the past: talk and talk that we resolve this issue, but find an excuse to pull back when the time comes to present a real opportunity to resolve it. As they think they cannot prevail, they prefer to procrastinate. Popular Party leaders complain that the Commonwealth will not be on the ballot. THAT’S NOT TRUE. In fact, the Commonwealth AS IT IS NOW, without changes” will be on the second consultation. But more importantly, free association or the associated free state (commonwealth)—as they themselves called it in the status proposal the submitted on their platform for the past elections—will be UNDER THE FIRST CONSULTATION. So both those who want a “free associated state “as the Commonwealth is right now will have the opportunity to vote for their preferred option.

Popular Party leaders wants us to run the consultation in a way that does not represent independence or free association. That would not be fair because you are not giving the opportunity for people who prefer these alternatives to vote for these options.

For its part, Independence Party leaders want the first consultation to not be an option on status, but on how we will resolve the status: as a direct vote in a referendum or in an assembly status. The reason is obvious: they hope to win the assembly status to try to achieve something in a dark room which obviously cannot be accomplished at the polls. That is not an option: it would be a mockery of democracy.

Finally, leaders of both the Popular Party and the Independence Party have complained that the alternatives that we present to the people is too much time between the first and second consultations. Although it is desirable that the two consultations occur closer to each other, the truth is that 2012 is an election year in which we have three electoral events: local political primaries, presidential primaries and national general elections next November.

Despite these disagreements, we must make every effort to achieve consensus among political parties on the process to be followed so this fundamental status issue is resolved. Just as we did recently on the issue of electoral reform, which enables a dialogue process that resulted in consensus among the parties about the issues that were most in dispute, I am confident that a similar dialogue can result in a consensus that encourages greater voter participation possible in the consultations that we will have to decide our political status.

To do this, I am asking political parties to nominate one representative to a Dialogue Committee so that together—within 30 days—consensus through dialogue is reached. I make this call to dialogue with the utmost good faith, and confident that consensus is possible. However, it is clear, that if within 30 days of the formation of the Dialogue Committee, a consensus is not reached, I will have to submit the necessary legislation so that before the end of my four years here, we hold the first referendum for a definitive and permanent solution to the status problem.

Puerto Rico has waited too long, and we will not allow those who prefer inertia and breeching to deprive an entire people of their right to reach a final decision, non-colonial and non-territorial, to ensure our children a future of progress and wellness.

To this end, we are allocating the necessary resources in the budget for the next fiscal year to conduct such consultation BEFORE THE END OF THIS TERM. We promised the people and we are going to do it because we will continue to BE WITH PUERTO RICO.

Puerto Rican brother and sister, the time has come. Our country deserves that their daughters and children respond to the call. Puerto Rico has been more than patient. The island has waited decades for us, but it can not wait any longer. I ask that you evaluate the reliable and responsible patriotic opportunity presented to us in the White House proposal that I presented to you to resolve the status issue. For that we can finally see the day free from the obstacle that divides us. Let us walk together, like a united family, to the glory that the Creator has reserved for Puerto Rico.

God bless you… and God bless Puerto Rico!

Thank you very much.

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The weekend was a busy one for Puerto Rico’s pro-statehood party and its Republican Governor Luis Fortuño. The island’s New Progressive Party, which is led by Fortuño, approved two plebiscites that will determine Puerto Rico’s political status. The first one would be held in late 2011, with the second one to be held in early 2013.

Puerto Rican Republican Governor Luis Fortuño

Inspired by the recommendations of the White House Task Force on Puerto Rico, the PNP would not allow the island’s current Commonwealth status (Estado Libre Asociado, or Associated Free State—also known as the ELA) as an option on the first plebiscite.

“We will file management legislation as recommended on page 28 of the task force established two ballots, the first one between the non-territorial options, statehood, independence and free association, as defined on pages 24, 25 and 26 of the report, “said Fortuño.

Free association is loosely defined as a state that is “a minor partner in a formal, free relationship between a political territory with a degree of statehood and a (usually larger) nation, for which no other specific term, such as a protectorate, is adopted.” All free associated states either are independent or have the potential right to independence. Unlike the ELA, which has a more colonial relationship with the United States, a free associated state is more in line with current thinking of political status, as supported by the United Nations.

The PNP leadership claimed that they are following the White House report faithfully.

“And we will pass legislation at the state level are going to write so that the voting process is a requirement to the President and Congress to resolve this once and for all,” Fortuño said. “We are voting to make a claim the Puerto Rican people.”

The White House report states the following on page 28 (we include part of pages 27 and 29 for more context) of its recommendation:

Two Plebiscites. In response to concerns about the potential for uncertainty that may result from a single plebiscite, many advocates have supported an approach with two plebiscites, the first of which would narrow the options and the second of which would make a final decision.A challenge with any two-tiered plebiscite system is the perception that how the votes are ordered may favor one outcome over others.

H.R.2499, the Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2010, provides for just such a process.It would first require voters to choose between the current political status and a different political status.Under H.R.2499, if a majority voted for the current political status, then a plebiscite would be held every 8 years to see if the electorate has changed its mind.

In the original form of the bill, if a majority voted for a different political status, the people of Puerto Rico would then have another plebiscite to vote on three options: (1) Statehood; (2) Independence; or (3) Free Association.There was criticism that, under H.R.2499 in its original form, if change of status won the first vote but the vote was close, the second vote would not include an option that perhaps 49 percent of the population supported as a first option and an unspecified number believed was the second best option.In part, for this reason, those supporting certain options objected to the bill, and, as a result, it was amended to include a fourth option in the second plebiscite: the current political status.

A second option would be the reverse of the original version of H.R.2499.Under this approach, all of the status options would be included in the first vote, except the current political status.The option that received sufficient votes from the first plebiscite (plurality, majority, or supermajority) would then be paired against the current political status in the second plebiscite.Another variation of this type would have all status options as part of the first plebiscite, with the top two vote-getters being the two options in the second plebiscite.This would effectively operate like a single plebiscite with a runoff, as discussed above.

Another variation of the two plebiscite option is to have a first plebiscite that requires the people of Puerto Rico to choose whether they wish to be part of the United States (either via Statehood or Commonwealth) or wish to be independent (via Independence or Free Association).If continuing to be part of the United States were chosen in the first plebiscite, a second vote would be taken between Statehood and Commonwealth.If independence were selected, a second vote would be taken between full Independence and Free Association.

As noted above, this last variation has certain appeal.To the extent that a core question is whether—given clear and specific information about each option and commitments that the United States would or would not make—the people of Puerto Rico would prefer to remain part of the United States or (as noted below, with their existing citizenship protected) be an independent nation, this approach would address that question directly.

Alternative Voting Systems. To overcome the limitations of a single plebiscite and the criticisms that would attend any of the above ways of managing two plebiscites, one could choose from several other systems of voting rather than a pure one-person, one-vote, one-option approach.The benefit of such systems is that they may provide more information about the will of the people; the drawbacks are that they are complex and require significant voter education.In addition, these systems do not answer the question of how many votes are sufficient to justify a change in status.

One option would be ranked voting, which would allow voters to rank the status options in order of preference.Such an approach would reveal, for example, in a single plebiscite, if a substantial majority of the people put one status option as first or second, whereas another status option was the first choice of a similar number of people, but poorly ranked by the rest of the population.A further step in this regard would be cumulative voting, which could give each voter four votes that could be distributed among several options or dedicated entirely to one; such an approach would reveal the strength of the voters’ views.

Constitutional Convention. Given the uncertainty about the status options and the need for a full debate on these issues on the Island, some advocates have suggested that a constitutional convention is a superior means for reaching resolution on the status question.Constitutional conventions have the advantage of being able to adapt the language of the status options and to allow for a more complete consideration of a variety of subsidiary issues.However, if (as discussed below) congressional legislation commits to honoring the outcome of a determination made by the people of Puerto Rico, the virtues of a constitutional convention are reduced.Any changes made by the constitutional convention to the status options outlined in the legislation could negate the commitment made by the United States, or at least require further congressional action reflecting consent to the changes made.

An additional challenge of a constitutional convention is the selection of delegates for that convention.The Task Force’s outreach indicated that there would be significant disagreement concerning how delegates would be selected.Delegates could be elected, but it is unclear whether such a process would be an improvement on the idea of a plebiscite itself.Some advocates argued that delegates should be selected from a broad swath of Puerto Rican society, with a de-emphasis on political parties.

The most common form of a constitutional convention suggested was one that itself would define the status options, which would then be taken to the people for a popular vote.Under such an approach, the constitutional convention would define the status options (or choose a single option to be presented to the people), develop a process, and draft a ballot, which would then be presented to the people of Puerto Rico, who would vote in a referendum.The constitutional convention could precede a vote of Congress defining the status options or could follow it.If the convention preceded congressional action, the status options defined by the convention could take effect only with congressional approval.If Congress failed to provide such approval, the constitutional convention might need to reconvene to consider other options.If the constitutional convention followed congressional action, the convention could approve the congressionally defined status options or modify them, but any modification would then require further congressional approval.H.R.1230, the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2007, proposed a process that included a constitutional convention.

Because 2012 is a year full electorally in Puerto Rico and the United States, the second query would be left in early 2013 and that would involve the formula that is winning on the first ballot and “territorial status” as described the first executive to the Commonwealth.

The PNP decided to not have the second plebiscite until 2013 because 2012 is a major election year both in the United States (President) and in Puerto Rico (Governor).

As expected, the PNP’s actions created some very strong reactions from the island’s other political groups.

Alejandro García Padilla

The gubernatorial candidate for the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), Alejandro García Padilla, said the intention of excluding the ELA in a vote this year demonstrated the “lack of seriousness and determination on the issue of status.”

He noted that nothing prevents the two plebiscites to be conducted this year, as proposed by the PDP.

“With the President pledging to present the results to Congress, the PNP cannot seriously justify neither the structure nor the separation proposed so wide of the two events,” said García Padilla.

“Just looking to create artificial and false appearance of support for statehood is worthless. And to postpone the second vote for the next two years, the Governor seeks only to remove the President and to wait to see if there is a change of government in the United States to return to the crooked ways of the past. The Popular Party strongly rejects the decision of the board of the PNP as an insult to Puerto Ricans who want this settled now and as a rebuke to a president who is committed to address this issue, “said the gubernatorial candidate.

Earlier today, García Padilla sounded more determined when he said the following at a PPD press conference: “The PPD will not stand idly by, we’re going to expose here and in Washington. The PNP has positioned itself as the party of tricks and deceptions.”

PPD Senator Eduardo Bhatia

PPD Senator Eduardo Bhatia was very clear when saying that the PNP’s intentions to include the current ELA as a option is “illegitimate, anti-democratic, and has no validity.”

“The United States, since Congress and the White House and the people of Puerto Rico have been emphatic that the Commonwealth [ELA] must be included in any process of self-determination. Democracy can not be a half democracy, without all the options there is no democracy, “said Bhatia.

Julio Fontanet, the former president of the Puerto Rican Bar Association and spokesman for the United Sovereignty Movement (MUS) , focused on the political reality that the PNP is facing in the 2012 elections

“They are doing this process on the premise that their option will prevail in this first round, perhaps with the hope that it will strengthen their party in 2012 because they anticipate a big defeat, and that’s why they put the second round after the election,” said Fontanet.

Fernando Martin, President of the Puerto Rican Independence Party

As for comments from the island’s Independence Party (PIP), Fernando Martin, the PIP’s executive president, said the following:

“It is clear that this decision is a politically motivated move which is not intended or will result in accelerating the decolonization of Puerto Rico and it is being made by the New Progressive Party (NPP) to create an electoral advantage for the upcoming elections.”

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US Congressman Luis Gutiérrez

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

Luis Vega Ramos, speaking at a PPD event

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.

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I could write 3,000 words about my love for my homeland. I could tell you that Puerto Ricans suffer from the paradoxical condition of misguided identity: are we Puerto Ricans? Americans? Puerto Ricans and Americans? But as I was about to write this post, I came across this video: PUERTO RICO A NATION. This is how I feel. Puerto Rico needs to be free: either being freely associated with the United States or as an independent country. Simple as that.

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There are facts and then there is political reality. As Americans, we are very well aware that all the facts in the world will never suppress politics. In the end the perception that politics create always wins. I won’t go into examples to prove this, since American politics has several of them, with Madison, Wisconsin being the most current manifestation of this.

Americans will never accept a flag with 51 stars in it

So my attention now turns to the Puerto Rico Democracy Act, H.R. 2499, which was passed by the US House of Representatives last April. As a Puerto Rican-born American citizen, this issue is dear to my heart, and I plan to cover it in my blog because it speaks to issues of self-determination, government, and Puerto Rican identity—a paradox to say the least.

Last night, I presented my reasons as to why the US colony of Puerto Rico will never become the 51st state. As I suspected, the charges of me being a tool of the Castro regime and a Puerto Rican socialist infiltrator started appearing in my Twitter stream and in the places where I share my blogs on Facebook, since I did make it a point to post the blog on several pages covering Puerto Rican politics, such as the Puerto Rico Libre page. The admins of that page also shared it with other pro-statehood pages, such as the one that promotes the Puerto Rican Statehood Party. On these pro-statehood pages, it is common that if you post, you start getting called names like communists and socialists. Sound familiar, anyone? Yes, pro-statehooders like to drink their tea, too.

Nonetheless, I did come across a Facebook note that many pro-statehood groups shared called Facts Supporting Statehood. The note lists 12 “facts” that conclude why statehood for Puerto Rico is the one and only option for the island. But like I said, there are facts, and there is political reality. Here is my analysis of each point. (EDITOR’S NOTE: I did not edit any of the notes facts and have run them as they appear in the Facebook note, even with its stylistic errors in English grammar.)

 

The New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico, promoting Statehood, Security, and Progress

FACT 1: “Statehood applies the full Constitution of the USA, giving full rights to the US Citizens residing in Puerto Rico.”
REALITY 1: The current act, as worded, is a non-binding resolution, meaning that even if Puerto Ricans do indeed chose statehood, the US government can still deny them this right.

FACT 2: “The States of the Union have their US Citizenship and keep their State Identity, so we would never stop being Puerto Ricans. It’s like people born in Texas are Texans, people born in New York are New Yorkers, people born in California are Californians, people born in Washington are Washingtonians, people born in Hawaii are Hawaiians, people born in Alaska are Alaskans and so on, and they’re all US Citizens. The same way, we can continue being Puerto Ricans and US Citizens just like now (but having the full rights of the Citizenship when we step in the islands of Puerto Rico). Also, the States even keep their State Flag and Anthems (so we won’t loose our flag nor our anthem either).”
REALITY 2: Last time I checked, Puerto Ricans have their own culture and traditions, formed by 500 years of Spanish, Latin American, African, indigenous, and American influence. I highly doubt that Washingtonian culture is on the same level as Puerto Rican culture. Never mind those strong cultures and identities of states like Delaware, Rhode Island, North Dakota, and Idaho. The reality is that Puerto Ricans will lose their cultural connections in time if it were to become a state. As for Texas? Heck, last time I heard, Texas was to secede from the Union. But what about the state flags and anthems? Sure, states have flags but do they have state anthems? Quick, tell me the state anthem of Massachusetts. Maybe it’s this one by the Dropkick Murphys?

FACT 3: “The USA is a union of various cultures and nationalities with the purpose of defense and common currency for the wellbeing and greater good of their citizens. The USA has no official language, nor official culture because the language and culture is decided and protected by each State, not by the union. Therefore, we won’t loose our Spanish Language nor our Puerto Rican culture. Our two official languages already are: English and Spanish. Just like the State of New Mexico has English and Spanish, Louisiana has English, Spanish and French, California has English and Spanish, Hawaii has English and Hawaiian, and so on, as official languages. The issues of language and culture are local State matters and responsibilities, NOT Federal.”
REALITY 3: The whole culture thing is being called into question these days, especially with laws being passed in places like Arizona that are seen as anti-Latino. As for English being the official language of the United States, the U.S. English movement based out of Washington has been pumping money into achieving their goals. New Mexico and Louisiana are the only official bilingual states in the Union, so claims that California has English and Spanish as official languages is FALSE. As for Hawaii, their Constitution states: “English and Hawaiian shall be the official languages of Hawaii, except that Hawaiian shall be required for public acts and transactions only as provided by law.” And where is the “and so on?” Last time we checked, 28 states have official English laws and more are coming.

FACT 4: “Some people say Congress won’t allow PR to become a State because Puerto Ricans mostly speak Spanish than English, and we descend only from Spaniards, Tainos, and Africans. It is FALSE to say Puerto Rican blood is only of Taínos, Spaniards, and Africans ( thanks to the “Royal Decree of Graces” promoted by Spain during it’s Imperial Rule in PR ). The truth is that the ethnic origin is not a requisite to become a State, and nowhere in the US Constitution states that Statehood is only acceptable for territories of Caucasian origin. For example, the State of Florida was a territory of Hispanic population in 1821 when it became a State. In 1911, Arizona was admitted to the Union having a majority of indigenous population. And the same happened to the States that were Mexican territories before.”
REALITY 4: Caucasian origin? I don’t get that. But nonetheless, let’s ignore that one and focus on the reality: The states that were Mexican territories became states AFTER the U.S. defeated Mexico. But let’s follow the logic in Fact 4 and focus on Arizona: the territory was given to the US after the win over Mexico, Arizona declared independence, American troops took Arizona back and eventually it became a state in the early 1900s. Arizona became a state for economic reasons and because the US needed its resources. What does Puerto Rico have to offer to the US in the 21st century? PS: Arizona is having its own Latino issues right now.

FACT 5: “Some people say that Congress won’t give Statehood to Puerto Rico because ‘if they wanted so, they would’ve given us Statehood over a century ago’. The truth is that we don’t have Statehood (or Independence) because Puerto Ricans have elected to maintain the current Commonwealth Status. It is our responsibility to make the first decision to change our status and then Congress shall make a decision based on the decision made by the majority of the residents in Puerto Rico. That is democracy. If Congress or the President impose Statehood or Independence not counting with the support of Puerto Rico’s population that would be and act of dictatorship, against their own Constitution. Fortunately, the USA is a nation of democracy and they respect our decisions on whatever we want to be. Also, our last three presidents publicly said that they personally support Statehood for Puerto Rico, but it is up to our people to demand it and they’ll respect whatever our decision is. The Congress shall approve our petition, and in case they ignore it, we can proceed with the Tennessee Plan by which we would get Statehood anyways, just like happened with Tennessee, Missouri, Iowa, and Alaska.”
REALITY 5: Basically what the pro-statehooders are saying is that even if Congress does not agree, Puerto Rico could bypass the will of the US Congress and institute a Tennessee Plan that was developed in the mid-19th century. Without getting into much specifics, Puerto Rico, if it did choose statehood in the next plebiscite, would in fact not need approval from Congress and would force the US government of the 21st century to make it part of the Union. Do you really think that the current Republican leadership and the Tea Party populist organizations would allow for a bunch of Latinos to overrule the US Congress? Pause for a minute and think about that. Have you absorbed that. For this point, I have to agree with Glenn Beck, which is almost never. Hit it, Glenn.

FACT 6: “Our economy won’t be any worse with Statehood. And taxes we would pay as a state would be almost the same of what we pay for I.R.S. under our current system. Sales Tax is only paid at State Level, not Federal Level, which means Sales Tax would rely on our local government. There’s no such thing as Federal Sales Tax.”
REALITY 6: For this one, I turn to my current state of Taxassuchetts. Massachusetts is like a lot of states: not only do you pay state taxes, you also pay federal taxes. And what about New York City, where you pay city taxes as well as state and federal taxes. Guess what? If Puerto Rico becomes a state and finds a revenue shortage, what do you think politicians will do? You got it. Raise state taxes. Welcome to the reality.

FACT 7: “Puerto Rico contributes to the nation in military service more than 25 States and all of the US Territories. According to the Department of Defense, PR is amongst the first 15 States and all US Territories recruiting soldiers.”
REALITY 7: So, wait a minute, pro-statehooders want Puerto Ricans to become a state so we can send more soldiers into the armed forces and possible more armed conflicts? Have you read about the reason why Puerto Ricans became US citizens in 1917? Yes, the US was about to enter World War I and needed fresh recruits. Here’s a great idea, instead of sending our own, let’s make Puerto Ricans US citizens.

FACT 8: “If Puerto Rico becomes a State, according to a study of the University of Stanford, the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) will triplicate, because Puerto Rico would adquire some constitutional powers that would benefit our state and our citizenship, a power only States have. Today, Puerto Rico’s GDP is even lower than the poorest State of the USA (Mississippi) because of its territorial condition.”
REALITY 8: In this economy, pro-statehooders are saying that the island’s GDP would triple if it were to become a state. Have they read what the Lexington Institute is saying about the financial impact of Puerto Rico as it becomes a state? Here is a quote from their findings:

Puerto Rico, which received $18 billion in direct federal expenditures in FY08, has a population with a median national income of $17,741, nearly a third below that for the United States. While eligibility for many major federal social programs is the same in both jurisdictions, others, like the Food Stamp Program, including different eligibility requirements. This would like result in increased federal expenditures should statehood be achieved, but a lack of comparable data makes cost projections for such changes difficult.

What would be the potential costs and implications should statehood for Puerto Rico result in establishing a Canadian-style system of bilingualism in the United States? Through a series of calculations and estimates, this report arrives at a projected total cost of $25.661 billion, or $85 per American.

That doesn’t sound like tripling the GDP of Puerto Rico to me.

FACT 9: By becoming a State, we would have the right to elect 2 Senators for the Senate of the USA, and a number of Representatives that will be determinated according to our population density in order to have a well balanced representation of our citizenship.

US Constitution, 1st Ammendment, Section 2: “The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

(Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.) (The previous sentence in parentheses was modified by the 14th Amendment, section 2.) The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five and Georgia three.

US Constitution, 1st Ammendment, Section 3: “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, (chosen by the Legislature thereof,) (The preceding words in parentheses superseded by 17th Amendment, section 1.) for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote….”
REALITY 9: This one rankles Republicans in Washington and beyond. I will let a Republican explain the reality of this one:

Yeah, Republicans would love the opportunity to have 2 more Democratic senators and 6 more Democratic congressman. Hey, add a Socialist or Independentista in once a while too.

FACT 10: We won’t loose our sovereignty. Each State of the Union is sovereign of itself, just like an independent republic, with the difference that our sovereignty would be covered and protected by the US Constitution which gives us the right of democracy and to be free citizens. Our sovereignty would be represented in Congress by our Representatives, Senators, and speakers in the White House, and we would also have right to elect our President and our State Governor.
REALITY 10: I believe there was a thing called The Civil War 150 years ago? Yeah, try to be an independent state in the US these days. Umm, that is not a great place to explore. Just look at Texas.

Pedro Albizu Campos

FACT 11: “Thousands of Puerto Ricans have given their lives defending the USA, our country, and thus Puerto Rico itself, in battlefield as US Citizens since 1899. Many of our soldiers demand Statehood for Puerto Rico . Also, many Puerto Ricans have worked and many still work in NASA, and have even gone to space as US Citizens.”
REALITY 11: Kind of repeating a previous fact, but we will not bring that up. Also, last time we checked Puerto Ricans became citizens in 1917 and not 1899. And yes, not all Puerto Rican soldiers supported statehood. Take Pedro Albizu Campos, the father of the Puerto Rican Independence movement. He was a US war veteran. No statehood support from him. Also, knowing that there is a strong NASA contingent of Puerto Ricans is comforting to know. Last time I checked NASA is having its own problems with the current government budget.

FACT 12: “Over a million of Puerto Ricans live in the states. Even a Puerto Rican descendant have become justice of the Supreme Court of the USA (Sonia Sotomayor). The 1st Hispanic and 3rd female justice of the Supreme Court of the USA. Our governor Luis G. Fortuño, born in Puerto Rico, has been elected President of the Council of State Governments. We are taking high roles in the nation today. Even a Puerto Rican have the possibility of becoming President of the United States of America if we reside in a current state for a certain period of time, but if Puerto Rico were a State, we wouldn’t have to move to another State to get that possibility.”
REALITY 12: A few things: first of all, the last thing the pro-statehooders want is to have Puerto Rican-born citizens vote in the plebiscite. It is very likely that mainlaind Puerto Ricans will vote for anything BUT statehood since they see Puerto Rico with romance and nostalgia. Think of the American Irish and Northern Ireland issue, or the Cuban exiles in Miami and Cuba. Also, sure, I am proud of Justice Sotomayor, but did you guys see the hearings? Do you think Republicans who voted against here were thrilled that she was Latina? And a Puerto Rican President? Huh? Certain US citizens call President Obama a socialist and a communist, imagine a Latino president? As for Governor Fortuño, being part of that Council of State Governments is really a powerful move. In the US. the federal government rules the country, and not a bunch of governors. Poll Americans about that organization and you will get blank stares.

So, to the pro-statehooders, keep sharing your facts and twisting the truth. But in the end, politics will push you aside.

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111th CONGRESS 2d Session

H. R. 2499


AN ACT

To provide for a federally sanctioned self-determination process for the people of Puerto Rico.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2010′.

SEC. 2. FEDERALLY SANCTIONED PROCESS FOR PUERTO RICO’S SELF-DETERMINATION.

    (a) First Plebiscite- The Government of Puerto Rico is authorized to conduct a plebiscite in Puerto Rico. The 2 options set forth on the ballot shall be preceded by the following statement: `Instructions: Mark one of the following 2 options:
    • `(1) Puerto Rico should continue to have its present form of political status. If you agree, mark here XX.
    • `(2) Puerto Rico should have a different political status. If you agree, mark here XX.’.
    (b) Procedure if Majority in First Plebiscite Favors Option 1- If a majority of the ballots in the plebiscite are cast in favor of Option 1, the Government of Puerto Rico is authorized to conduct additional plebiscites under subsection (a) at intervals of every 8 years from the date that the results of the prior plebiscite are certified under section 3(d).
    (c) Procedure if Majority in First Plebiscite Favors Option 2- If a majority of the ballots in a plebiscite conducted pursuant to subsection (a) or (b) are cast in favor of Option 2, the Government of Puerto Rico is authorized to conduct a plebiscite on the following 4 options:
    • (1) Independence: Puerto Rico should become fully independent from the United States. If you agree, mark here XX.
    • (2) Sovereignty in Association with the United States: Puerto Rico and the United States should form a political association between sovereign nations that will not be subject to the Territorial Clause of the United States Constitution. If you agree, mark here XX.
    • (3) Statehood: Puerto Rico should be admitted as a State of the Union. If you agree, mark here XX.
    • (4) Commonwealth: Puerto Rico should continue to have its present form of political status. If you agree, mark here XXX.

SEC. 3. APPLICABLE LAWS AND OTHER REQUIREMENTS.

    (a) Applicable Laws- All Federal laws applicable to the election of the Resident Commissioner shall, as appropriate and consistent with this Act, also apply to any plebiscites held pursuant to this Act. Any reference in such Federal laws to elections shall be considered, as appropriate, to be a reference to the plebiscites, unless it would frustrate the purposes of this Act.
    (b) Rules and Regulations- The Puerto Rico State Elections Commission shall issue all rules and regulations necessary to carry out the plebiscites under this Act.
    (c) Eligibility To Vote- Each of the following shall be eligible to vote in any plebiscite held under this Act:
    • (1) All eligible voters under the electoral laws in effect in Puerto Rico at the time the plebiscite is held.
    • (2) All United States citizens born in Puerto Rico who comply, to the satisfaction of the Puerto Rico State Elections Commission, with all Commission requirements (other than the residency requirement) applicable to eligibility to vote in a general election in Puerto Rico. Persons eligible to vote under this subsection shall, upon timely request submitted to the Commission in compliance with any terms imposed by the Electoral Law of Puerto Rico, be entitled to receive an absentee ballot for the plebiscite.
    (d) Certification of Plebiscite Results- The Puerto Rico State Elections Commission shall certify the results of any plebiscite held under this Act to the President of the United States and to the Members of the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States.
    (e) English Language Requirements- The Puerto Rico State Elections Commission shall–
    • (1) ensure that all ballots used for any plebiscite held under this Act include the full content of the ballot printed in English;
    • (2) inform persons voting in any plebiscite held under this Act that, if Puerto Rico retains its current political status or is admitted as a State of the United States, the official language requirements of the Federal Government shall apply to Puerto Rico in the same manner and to the same extent as throughout the United States; and
    • (3) inform persons voting in any plebiscite held under this Act that, if Puerto Rico retains its current political status or is admitted as a State of the United States, it is the Sense of Congress that it is in the best interest of the United States for the teaching of English to be promoted in Puerto Rico as the language of opportunity and empowerment in the United States in order to enable students in public schools to achieve English language proficiency.
    (f) Plebiscite Costs- All costs associated with any plebiscite held under this Act (including the printing, distribution, transportation, collection, and counting of all ballots) shall be paid for by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Passed the House of Representatives April 29, 2010.

Attest:

Clerk.

111th CONGRESS 2d Session

H. R. 2499

AN ACT

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