Democratic Party Platform Focuses on Self-Determination

The Democratic National Convention is taking place this week in Philadelphia. The Republican Party Platform for 2016 specifically mentions statehood for Puerto Rico, acknowledging the 2012 vote, but the Democratic Party platform does not. Instead, the platform lays out some of the specific injustices faced by Puerto Rico and the other U.S. territories, and says twice that Puerto Ricans and “all Americans should be able to vote for the people who make their laws, just as they should be treated equally. And all American citizens, no matter where they reside, should have the right to vote for the President of the United States.”

Fighting for the People of Puerto Rico
And we are committed to addressing the extraordinary challenges faced by our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico. Many stem from the fundamental question of Puerto Rico’s political status. Democrats believe that the people of Puerto Rico should determine their ultimate political status from permanent options that do not conflict with the Constitution, laws, and policies of the United States. Democrats are committed to promoting economic opportunity and good-paying jobs for the hardworking people of Puerto Rico. We also believe that Puerto Ricans must be treated equally by Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs that benefit families. Puerto Ricans should be able to vote for the people who make their laws, just as they should be treated equally. All American citizens, no matter where they reside, should have the right to vote for the President of the United States. Finally, we believe that federal officials must respect Puerto Rico’s local self-government as laws are implemented and Puerto Rico’s budget and debt are restructured so that it can get on a path towards stability and prosperity.

Honoring the People of the Territories
We also recognize and honor the contributions and the sacrifices made in service of our country by the Americans living in the territories of Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands,and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. We support self-government and self-determination for the people of the territories, and their right to decide their future status. All Americans should be able to vote for the people who make their laws, just as they should be treated equally. And all American citizens, no matter where they reside,should have the right to vote for the President of the United States. We will work as partners to the people of Guam on military matters, believe veterans from Guam and the Virgin Islands should have access to timely and quality Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) care, and take seriously the unique health care challenges that Pacific Island communities face. And we support reviewing the feasibility of extending the ACA to all the territories and increasing the Medicaid cap. For all those who live under our flag, we support strong economic development and will work towards fair and equitable treatment under federal programs.

The platform calls for the right to vote in presidential elections and equal treatment under federal programs. It recognizes the need for economic development in Puerto Rico as well as in the other territories.

But the people of Washington, D.C. have the right to vote in presidential elections, and they still call for statehood in order to participate fully in U.S. democracy. Use the Shout Out widget on the right to tell your representatives that you want them to follow through on the promise that “the people of Puerto Rico should determine their ultimate political status from permanent options that do not conflict with the Constitution, laws, and policies of the United States.” It is time for Puerto Rico to have a permanent status, not the failed unincorporated territory status. It is time for statehood for Puerto Rico.

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