José Luis Dalmau Santiago’s Dream

José Luis Dalmau Santiago, the President of the Puerto Rico Senate, made a statement reaffirming his commitment to the commonwealth.

“The times where a government whimsically excludes alternatives have to end,” he said. “The times when some mistakenly try to make the people of Puerto Rico believe that their only alternatives are statehood and independence, they have to stop.”

“A government” here appears to be the government of the United States. All three branches of the U.S. government have stated repeatedly that the “enhanced commonwealth” option is not a viable alternative under the U.S.Constitution. This may not seem “whimsical,” but it appears to be what Dalmau Santiago had in mind.

The “some” who are trying to make the people of Puerto Rico believe that the only alternatives to territorial status are statehood and independence must be the U.S. Department of Justice, the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico, and the Supreme Court.

Dalmau Santiago, according to Noticel, lists three options: “integration as a state of the union, the independence of the United States or political autonomy, which is reflected in the development of the Commonwealth.” In other words, rather than including the current territory status, he wants to consider “enhanced commonwealth.”

“In other words, there are three alternatives and not two; And, for that reason, from Aguadilla, we tell the critics of the Commonwealth that no matter how hard they try, no matter how much they invent and insist on excluding us, the Commonwealth will be on the ballot; period, ” they quoted him as saying.

Dalmau Santiago announced that he will soon present a plan to create a dialogue among Puerto Rico, Congress, and the White House to “direct a solution to the status issue.”  In fact, Congress and the White House have repeatedly rejected the “developed commonwealth” option.

Who says?

Dalmau Santiago sounds irritated that “some” reject the idea of a developed or enhanced commonwealth. But who are the “some” who are making these claims? Here are just a few examples:

  • The Department of Justice said “the only constitutionally permissible status options available…are statehood, independence, or Puerto Rico’s current status as a territory.” This is a clear statement with no ambiguity, based on the U.S. Constitution.
  • “Congress should act now to give the people of Puerto Rico the ability to choose between the only real options for full sovereignty: statehood or independence.” — Rep. Dan Burton
  • “Full self-government for Puerto Rico is attainable only through establishment of a political status which is based on either separate Puerto Rican sovereignty and nationality or full and equal United States nationality and citizenship through membership in the Union and under which Puerto Rico is no longer an unincorporated territory subject to the plenary authority of Congress arising from the Territorial Clause” In other words, statehood or independence. – House Report
  • “The Federal Government may relinquish United States sovereignty by granting independence or ceding the territory to another nation; or it may, as the Constitution provides, admit a territory as a State, thus making the Territory Clause inapplicable. But the U.S. Constitution does not allow other options.” – President’s Task Force report, 2005
  • “[R]egardless of whether the New Commonwealth proposal contemplates full Puerto Rican independence or continued United States sovereignty over Puerto Rico, the proposal’s mutual consent provisions are constitutionally unenforceable.” – Assistant U.S. Attorney General Robert Raben
  • “The new commonwealth option continues to be advocated as a viable option by some. It is not. Persistence in supporting this option—after it has been rejected is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution by the U.S. Justice Department, by the bipartisan leadership of this committee, by the House and by the Clinton, Bush, and Obama Administrations—undermines resolution of Puerto Rico’s status question.” –Sen. Ron Wyden
  • “The Executive Branch has recognized that Puerto Rico remains a U.S. territory subject to Congress’s authority. A 1994 Office of Legal Counsel opinion explained that Congress may not create a sovereign territory consistent with the Constitution, and since then, the Department of Justice has repeatedly stated the same view to Congress in connection with proposed legislation about Puerto Rico. Presidential task force reports in 2005, 2007, and 2011 have likewise confirmed that Puerto Rico is not a sovereign and that it could become one only if it were to attain statehood or become an independent nation.” – Supreme Court brief

These are not uninformed opinions, but official statements from the federal government. Will a dialogue change these facts?

The real choice

Right now, Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory belonging to the United States. If this is to change, Puerto Rico will have to become either an independent nation or a state of the Union.

Puerto Rico does not want independence. Statehood is the right choice. Tell your representatives that you support statehood for Puerto Rico.

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