Can Congress Force Independence on Puerto Rico?

A recent comment here at PR51st acknowledged that the majority of Puerto Rico’s voters don’t want independence. In fact, the highest percentage independence has ever received in a referendum vote is 5%. An Independence Party governor has never been elected in Puerto Rico. The territory of Puerto Rico flat out doesn’t want independence.

The comment suggested that this doesn’t matter. “Independence is a democratic right,” the commenter said, and even if the people don’t want it, “the island must be free.”

Americans love the idea of independence. A colonial relationship seems wrong to us. Those living in the states especially feel that independence is equivalent to freedom, that it is a good thing, and everyone should have it.

Whether they want it or not.

There is at least one member of Congress who favors independence. Rep. Luis Gutierrez  (D-IL) introduced a bill in 2017, HR 900, to force independence on Puerto Rico.

The bill begins like this:

To recognize Puerto Rico’s sovereign nationhood under either independence or free association and to provide for a transition process, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. Findings.

Congress finds the following:

(1) In order to ensure the legitimate interests of Puerto Rico and the United States, Congress should recognize Puerto Rico as a sovereign nation.

(2) Consistent with article IV, section 3 of the Constitution, only Congress has the power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting Puerto Rico.

(3) Puerto Rico’s territorial condition constitutes an unsustainable status of political subordination.

The bill continues on to speak against statehood, to set out a referendum offering only independence and independence with free association, to define eligible voters as those born in Puerto Rico or whose parents were born in Puerto Rico, and to call upon the President of the United States to negotiate a treaty with the Republic of Puerto Rico.  The bill states that “Congress should dispose of the territory of Puerto Rico.”

Gutierrez made a poetic speech on the subject, and the conversation ended.

What happened to the bill to force independence on Puerto Rico?

Like most bills (including some previous bills to “dispose of the territory of Puerto Rico,”) this bill failed. It was sent to the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs and, as the saying goes, “died in committee.” It had no cosponsors and no support.

But this is exactly how Congress could force independence on Puerto Rico.

In 1922, Rep. Philip P. Campbell introduced a bill making Puerto Rico a Free Associated State. In 1934, Senator Millard Tydings introduced a bill calling for independence for Puerto Rico. In 1937, Rep. Wilburn Cartwright did the same.Tydings tried again in 1943 and 1945. All these bills failed.

If they had passed, Puerto Rico would be independent. That’s all it would take for Congress to force independence on Puerto Rico.

The fate of Puerto Rico is in the hands of Congress. The voters have already spoken. Now we must make sure that Congress understands and believes that Puerto Rico is ready for statehood. Contact your legislators.

9 Comments

Dennis O Freytes

PR51st is the best site for the facts and good analysis on the Federal undemocratic control of US Territory of Puerto Rico (with more US Citizens-American Veterans than 22 States)– that don’t have Federal “Consent of the Governed”!

US Congress must stop Federal discrimination; provide Puerto Ricans–EQUALITY+PROGRESS=STATEHOOD with DIGNITY!🇱🇷️🇵🇷

Reply
Arthur Bedell

The globalists want statehood because Puerto-Ricans are Democrats.
Plus the Puerto-Ricans must realize that they will be under all the tyrannical laws we are under here in the states. Plus they must pay the federal income tax.

Reply
pr51st

Just as about half of the U.S. citizens do not earn enough money to pay income tax, most Puerto Ricans will not earn enough to pay federal income tax. In fact, most will receive tax credits they don’t currently get. Puerto Ricans are already under federal law, but I’m curious about the specific tyrannical laws you think will affect a state but not a territory.

Reply
Jorge A Rivera

Well, NOT really. Congress CAN NOT FORCE Independence on the AMERICAN CITIZENS living on the ISLAND of Puerto Rico. It can force to have a Plebiscite for DECOLONIZATION but NOT to take away our CITIZENSHIP and kick us out of the UNION.

Reply
Angel

The Citizenship was granted by congressional law; it could be revoked. The real live case was when Hong Kong when to Citizens from UK to Chinese just like that.

Reply
Angel

Yes, it is. They are the owners of the Caribbeans and Pacific territories it is said on the Constitution; The inhabitants of those territories are just the caretakers of the real states. Either Statehood or Independence they will lose the empowerment of those real states; So they could do it, but they will lose a lot of money unless they balance the ledger book then realized their loss or gained, they will make any decision. That why is foolish to wait for those politicians to make our decisions.

Reply
Luis Arroyo

Globalists do NOT want PR statehood.
To suggest so is ridiculous.
Globalists want to see a diminishing USA, and adding states isn’t the way to project a declining USA.

Quite the contrary, Globalists want to see PR Independence & even secession of CA as a way of “chopping a limb” off Uncle Sam!

Reply

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