FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 10, 2022
During Midterm Election Groups Urge President Biden to Take Action on Resolving Puerto Rico’s Territory Status
Washington, D.C. – As voting for the mid-term elections was underway this week the Puerto Rico Statehood Council (PRSC), along with multiple Puerto Rico and stateside based organizations, sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging his Administration to take action to help resolve Puerto Rico’s undemocratic and unequal political status as a U.S. territory. The letter thanks the President for his recent actions to aid Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona, but criticizes his Administration’s lack of action on addressing the root cause of the island’s ongoing inequality and disenfranchisement, its colonial territory status.
“While millions of Americans made their voices heard across the U.S. through the ballot box during the midterm election, the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico were again denied that fundamental democratic right. This is wrong and unjust. It must be changed now,” said George H. Laws García, Executive Director of PRSC.
Under the current territory status 3.1 million island residents lack full representation in the U.S. House of Representatives, where they have only one non-voting member, and they are completely denied representation in the Senate as well as the right to vote for President. Making it worse territory status allows Congress to discriminate against island residents under federal laws. This has become the principal reason that over 700,000 residents have felt compelled to leave the island and move stateside in the last two decades alone further weakening the territory’s economy and increasing its fragility in the face of natural disasters.
The letter urges the Biden Administration to endorse H.R. 8393, Puerto Rico Status Act, which would finally give the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico a definitive choice among the three non-territory status options of “Statehood,” “Independence,” and “Sovereignty in Free Association.” H.R. 8393 was introduced by the Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, last July as a bipartisan compromise to allow voters in Puerto Rico to have their votes and voices heard on how they want to end the current colonial territory status, and what political relationship they want with the U.S. going forward.
“After more than 124 years of colonial rule, three plebiscites in the last decade opposing territory status and in favor of statehood, two congressional hearings this Congress, a public forum open to the general public in Puerto Rico, and a Committee mark up, the time left in this Congress has almost run out. We call on the Biden Administration act now by strongly advocating for an end to Puerto Rico’s undemocratic territory status and by pressing Congress to pass legislation that the President can sign into law this year,” added Laws García.
“Ultimately, this is not just about Puerto Rico, it is about the heart of America’s democracy. Either we confront and overcome the injustices of America’s history, or we allow democracy to continue to deteriorate and destabilize. I have faith that America can and will do what is right, and let the people of Puerto Rico decide,” concluded Laws García.