Luis Gutierrez has been opposing statehood for Puerto Rico his entire life. Gutierrez, who represents a district in Illinois, does not even want statehood to be a choice for Congress or the people of Puerto Rico.
Instead, Gutierrez supports the anti-democratic ideology of the Puerto Rico Independence Party (PIP), which refuses to recognize majority rule unless it favors independence. The PIP rejects democratic self-determnation on the premise that U.S. colonialism has deprived the people of the ability to freely express their wishes on status.
Gutierrez clearly agrees that any vote in which statehood wins is by definition coerced because American imperialism has deprived the voters of “free will.” That’s why he recently has introduced a bill to sponsor a vote on independence in Puerto Rico in which the option of statehood would not be on the ballot.
Although Gutierrez does not want statehood on the ballot, the independence option Gutierrez favors has always been included on past ballots in five status votes over the last 50 years. It is an inconvenient truth for Gutierrez that independence has never garnered more than 5% of the vote.
In contrast, statehood support increased in all five future political status plebiscites since 1967. But no status option won a majority until the general election of 2012 when voter turnout was 78% and 54% rejected the current status. In a second ballot question 61% favored statehood over separate sovereign nationhood.
In the recent 2017 plebiscite 97% voted for statehood. The local “commonwealth” party defending the status quo as well as the smaller and weaker but noisy independence party boycotted the special election. That resulted in an effective voter turnout of 31% that Gutierrez tried to delegitimize, but that too is anti-democratic because under U.S. election laws and U.N. self-determination protocols election validity is based on votes cast not overall voter turnout.
Yet, in a brazenly anit-democratic diatribe, Gutierrez told his colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives the plebiscite was no different than rigged elections in Iraq under Saddam Hussein and Russia under Vladimir Putin. His derision of voters who cast ballots was based on a false narrative that the election was nullified by low turnout.
The truth is independence and status quo political parties boycotted because they knew they were going to lose. Voter assumption that statehood would win also contributed to lower than expected turnout for a special election, which typically is lower than general elections anyway.
Still, no one was surprised by the anti-democratic stance of Gutierrez in expressing his disdain for the 97% vote for statehood. He made it clear years ago that he would say or do anything to stop any democratic self-determination that includes statehood.
Indeed, his record of contempt for democratic self-determination includes testimony in the 1990’s when Congress was debating bills for Puerto Rico to begin transition to statehood or nationhood based on democratic self-determination. Chicago-born Gutierrez requested permission to appear in a committee hearing on Puerto Rico’s status, evoking his Puerto Rican ancestry to legitimize his opposition to the pro-statehood testimony of elected leaders from Puerto Rico.
In that testimony he referred to a narrative he also has repeated often over the years, about visiting Puerto Rico as a small boy with his father. According to different versions of this narrative by Gutierrez, his father pointed out people they saw who joined the independence movement and told his son they were bad people, saying that statehood supporters were good Americans.
In his own oft-repeated account Gutierrez repudiates his father for assigning bad motives to all independence supporters because of the radical, extremist and terrorist anti-U.S. ideology of some. Gutierrez leaves no doubt his disdain for statehood and identification with independence ideology was related to his emotional and intellectual rejection of his father’s beliefs and values.
Gutierrez would grow up not only to defy but to defile his father’s moral character values by affiliating with the political wing of the Puerto Rico independence organization FALN. The future Congressman demonstrated to “free” convicted felons who bombed, killed and maimed within the states of the union, using the same armed insurrection tactics as Castro in Cuba and Che Guevara in Nicaragua.
Luis Gutierrez is a man who so loathed his father’s political principles that the angry son ideologically aligned himself with those whose cause was armed overthrow of the U.S. government in Puerto Rico. Now the same angry boy inside the man has denounced the statehood movement as “homophobic” because he interprets the words of one statehood leader that he interprets as sex preference hate speech.
By denouncing all statehood supporters because of the words of one statehood supporter that offended him, Gutierrez is doing exactly what he denounced his own father for doing. Truly, the son has become what according to his own words he loathed most about his father.