Congress is currently considering two bills on Puerto Rico’s status. One is a statehood bill, very much like the bills that allowed Alaska and Hawaii to gain their statehood. It recognizes the votes which have shown that the majority of Puerto Rico voters prefer statehood to the other possible statehood options (independence and continued territory status).
The other is a misleadingly titled “self-determination” bill which calls for a complicated process which will attempt to find some other viable option apart from the three possibilities which the federal government recognizes as possible under the U.S. Constitution.
We favor the statehood bill, HR 1522. However, there is at present a stalemate. Advocates of both the current bills are therefore trying to come up with a compromise bill which both sides can support.
Rep. Nydia Velázquez and Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón issued a joint statement:
“We both know that the question of Puerto Rico’s status is at the center of the island’s future. While we’ve long held our separate positions for many years, there is no doubt this is an issue close to both of our hearts. That’s why we have decided to come to the table and negotiate a path forward towards decolonialization of the island.
After multiple productive meetings, today we believe we are closer than ever to an agreement.”
Steny Hoyer told El Nuevo Dia that “real progress has been achieved.”
However supporters of both bills have made statements on the non-negotiable items in the bills. Supporters of the Velazquez bill are determined to hold a status convention, even though the only viable options are already well known. Supporters of the statehood bill are determined to have respect for Puerto Rico’s vote.
Both sides seem to agree that they want a commitment from Congress. Without that, Congress can continue to ignore any further decisions made by Puerto Rico.
An example of a compromise bill
Constitutional scholars Rafael Cox Alomar & Christina D. Ponsa-Kraus submitted a compromise bill proposal to Rep. Grijalva, chair of the committee that oversees Puerto Rico, in October 2021. Their bill had the following points:
- There should be another referendum among all the status options.
- Congress should define the status options. While some activists feel strongly that Puerto Rico, not Congress, should define the options, the truth is that Congress will not accept every idea presented to them. Puerto Rico should have the chance to vote among options that Congress will accept.
- Congress must agree to implement the decision made by Puerto Rico’s voters. Congress can’t promise anything on behalf of a future Congress, but can determine that the president will take action on any of the viable options which they have defined.
- Congress should provide and pay for an educational campaign to clarify all the options and clear up any misconceptions.
This compromise bill is possible. Perhaps it may inspire an agreement that will bring a status bill to the floor of Congress for a vote.
Of course, Rep. Gonzalez Colon will not be able to vote on such a bill. Voters in the states can help by educating their representatives about the issues, serving as Puerto Rico’s voice.
SImplicity boils down to two things: Identify the essential, eliminate the rest.
Compromise Bill Essentials
* Indisputable Constitutional non- colonial Status Options
* Free association
* Puerto Rico must first be independent, then negotiate
* Contract with USA (maybe- not guaranteed)
* Terms of contract to be determine with each renewal
* No USA citizenship
* No resident Commissioner
* Federal USA agencies/ Military support – to be determine
* Puerto Rico administered solely by those in power- limited federal
* Educational campaign with/for all status options and their permanent implications
* Congressional approval of indisputable status options
* Congressional approval for a definitive binding referendum
* Congressional compliance and resolution to support referendum results
Compromise Bill should reject any anti-democratic process (No Constitutional Convention) and allow a transparent democratic electorate process.
The residents of Puerto Rico will choose what they truly want and congress must follow through and thoroughly respecting the final results of a binding referendum.
As above. I stand corrected on the term “binding referendum”. My apologies.
Bottom line – the USA Congress needs to do its job to decolonize Puerto Rico.
The indisputable non colonial constitutional options for PR are:
Free Association – with issues mentioned above and below Free association.
Any other status ideas are a waist of time and will not solved P R status issue –
the root of practically all of its problems.
US Congress should define the only Constitutional viable non-territorial Options, which only are “STATEHOOD vs INDEPENDENCE or INDEPENDENCE with a PACT of Free Association”…
Remember Free Association is not a constitutional Status, but, the name of the PACT.
Under the US Constitution, there are only four forms of Government…– one for– STATES, Territories, Indian Tribes, and District of Colombia. There is NO Free Association (as a status), other than a Pact. There can be no compromise with what the US Constitution allows!
Thank you for the specific clarification as it relates to: “INDEPENDENCE with a PACT of Free Association”…
The challenge will be in the description of the agreed details with all options. Time frame, transition process, etc….
The Puerto Rican quest for Equality isn’t just about the Status Question, but, more fundamental, it’s about the Spirit of our noble US Constitution with a Representative Democracy System–where all “We the People-US Citizens” must have Equal Individual Rights; be treated fairly! The People (composed of Individuals)–come FIRST, not the Federal undemocratic control of the People and Land (Territory)…
The US Supreme Court or Politicians should not treat US Citizens like in Orwell’s’ Animal Farm allegory–“All Animals (People) are Equal; but, some Animals (People) are more Equal than others!” Today, the majority of US Citizens are (wrongly) more equal than US Puerto Ricans-US Veterans…!
“Silence to discrimination supports injustice!”
You can’t have it both ways–you are either for Equal Civil Rights for All… or you excuse or support discrimination against part of “We the People”! Dr. ML King said: THE TIME IS NOW…!
FIX: We Patriots PETITION our US Congress to conduct a non-Territorial Plebiscite that ends Federal discrimination; let Puerto Ricans VOTE/ DECIDE on clear-defined constitutional Options (without misinformation or political distortion or standards that weren’t applied to other Territories):
OPTION 1: PASS– HR 1522 and S.780–PR STATEHOOD (“YES or NO”) Vote…
OPTION 2: Conduct a sanctioned Federal Plebiscite on the only viable (per US Justice Department)
Non-Territorial Options: Statehood vs Independence (Without or With a PACT of Free Association)…
• STATEHOOD MEANS: Admission to our diverse “UNION of STATES”—with OWN– STATE Identity; Constitution; Flag; Sovereignty; EQUAL/permanent US Citizenship with full rights, benefits, and responsibilities… (As other US Citizens-US Veterans-“WE THE PEOPLE”- have).
• INDEPENDENCE (Without or With a PACT of Free Association) MEANS: Puerto Rican National Sovereignty & Citizenship; loss of statutory US Citizenship, Rights, and Benefits—like Social Security, MEDICARE, MEDICAID, and Other Federal Funds (Health, Education, Transportation, Roads, Security, Disaster Relief, etc.)…
“En la UNIÓN está la Fuerza!”
In our UNION-each State complements; strengthen the other States—works for the Good of All!
Best Option: “PR EQUALITY & PROGRESS with STATEHOOD!”
Patriots cry- “Equality for a more perfect UNION!”
Our Federal Government (US President, US Congress, and US Supreme Court); Democrats and Republican Legislators– have done nothing to end this incongruent and disgraceful inequality; nor have let the People vote on it! This is un-American! Also, they must amend the US Constitution to protect and make clear Equal Rights for all US Citizens… Plus, revoke the “Insular cases”; amend the Territorial Clause; place a limit on the Territorial Status… When in conflict, the rights of the People should be first!
Loyal Puerto Ricans (part of “We the People”) must have Equal Civil Rights as other US Citizens have! UNITED with Truth, Reason, Courage, and Civic ACTION for the Good of our Families, Communities, USA, and Humanity!
(By: DENNIS O. FREYTES: Florida Veterans Hall of Fame; Community Servant Leader)
**Judges like Justice Marshall, Judge Torruella, Judge Gelpi; and Others (like US Attorney General Thornburg, Presidents: Teddy Roosevelt, Reagan, Ford, Bush, Clinton, W. Bush…, Governor Jeb Bush…) have called upon the Federal Government (includes US Supreme Court) to provide Equality…
**How can, in this new age, the Federal Government/ US Supreme Court mal interpreted our US Constitution; narrowly rule– some US Citizens-US Veterans are more Equal than others (that reside in the US Territory of Puerto Rico); don’t deserve the same rights, and benefits than other US Citizens have?
*NOTE: Take Patriotic Civic ACTION- CONTACT: US Congress: https://contactingcongress.org/
US President: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact
Thank you for your comment and your Military service. Agree, but P Rico’s current territorial geographic status limits all if you reside in the island, while you have practically no issues if you reside in any of the 50 States.
Unfortunately, the two extremes special interest groups (radical extremists who want Independence at all cost bypassing the democratic process and plutocratic elitists – local and nationwide corporate -who simply do not want to pay their fair share of federal income and corporate taxes) continue to negatively influence resolving the PR status issue once and for all.
A most respectful observation – it is passed time for P Ricans in the island to see themselves as Americans first and foremost, while remaining faithful to their traditions. This is not a contradiction – every other group has done so successfully and our Nation has grown greatly through its vast diversity. Hence, our wonderful USA regional differences- Alaska, Texas, South, Midwest, North East, Hawaii and hopefully soon – Puerto Rico!
A respectful observation that