Puerto Rico will hold its Democratic primary on June 5th, just weeks before the Democratic National Convention, which is scheduled for July 25-28. Puerto Rico sends 67 delegates to the Democratic National Convention.
As of this writing, Hillary Clinton has 1,243 delegates, and Bernie Sanders has 975. 2,383 delegates are required to secure the nomination, and there are more than 2,000 still available, so both candidates are still in the running.
Bernie Sanders made a statement on Puerto Rico that mentioned both statehood and independence, and then issued a plan for Puerto Rico which said that Sanders will, if elected president, “fight for” a referendum which has in fact already been funded. However, he also specified a binding referendum, which could not be ignored by the local government or by Congress. This might be the aspect of the referendum that he plans to fight for. He also described the referendum as one “where the Puerto Rican people would be able to decide on whether to become a state, an independent country, or to reform the current Commonwealth agreement.”
The “current commonwealth agreement” is no agreement at all. Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, subject to the Territory Clause of the Constitution, and reform is not a possibility. So it appears that Bernie Sanders is not completely clear on the position of Puerto Rico, or on the events that have taken place as a lead-up to the next referendum, but he is ready to resolve Puerto Rico’s status, and he sees the importance of doing so.
Hillary Clinton also made a statement about Puerto Rico. The statement acknowledges the unequal treatment of Puerto Rico and says, “Underlying all of this is the fundamental question of Puerto Rico’s ultimate future. That question needs to be resolved in accordance with the expressed will of our fellow citizens, the people of Puerto Rico.”
We believe that “Puerto Rico’s ultimate future” refers to the status of Puerto Rico. At present, Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory. At any time, it could become a state, or it could become an independent nation. It could remain in its current territorial status indefinitely, or that could change next year. As long as this is true, Puerto Rico’s future is uncertain.
We also believe that “the expressed will of our fellow citizens” here should refer to the 2012 referendum, in which the majority of Puerto Rican voters said that they were dissatisfied with the current territorial status (54%) and that they preferred statehood among the viable options (61%). The phrase may also refer to the upcoming referendum, which has already had funding set aside in the federal budget.
Either of these candidates might take vigorous action to resolve Puerto Rico’s status. Tell them you want them to do so:@BernieSanders @Hillary Clinton Support statehood for Puerto Rico. The people have already spoken.
Both candidates have time between now and the Democratic primary in Puerto Rico to make their views known in more detail. If the voters insist, they will do so.