A Bill has been filed in the Puerto Rico legislature with this title: Plebiscite for the Immediate Decolonization of Puerto Rico. The bill calls for a vote on May 28 between statehood and independence. If statehood wins, then the U. S. Congress would be asked to admit Puerto Rico. There is already a bill (introduced by the new Resident Commissioner) asking Congress to admit Puerto Rico as a state if the territory votes again for statehood. The bill in the Puerto Rico legislature is compatible with the one currently in Congress. Together, the bills provide a clear path to statehood.
Should independence win, there would be a second vote in September between nationhood and free association.Free association would involve an agreement between the United States and the new nation of Puerto Rico. It’s important to note that free association is based on the right of both parties to independence without association. Unlike the unrealistic idea of “enhanced commonwealth” based on a “compact” which could not be changed without agreement on both sized, free association can be changed by either party at will. Puerto Rico would not be likely to retain U.S. citizenship or permanent federal support under free association.
Independence without free association would make Puerto Rico a sovereign state, with no special legal relationship with the United States, like the Philippines.
The title of the bill certainly makes a point. Rather than falling back on the discredited idea of a special “commonwealth” relationship, Puerto Rico’s leaders are clearly rejecting the current territorial status and demanding a transition from territorial status to full union, redeeming America’s promise of equality.
The options on the planned plebiscite meet the requirements of the 2014 Federal plebiscite authorization and appropriation, so funding will not be an issue.
The new Governor, Ricardo Rossello, promised in his inaugural speech to forge ahead with something like the Tennessee Plan which has already brought several U.S. territories into statehood. He intends to send five congressional representatives and two senators to Washington to take their places in the U.S. Congress.
Right now, it is not clear what order events will take. The smoothest order might be to hold the plebiscite in May, get approval for the Gonzalez-Colon statehood bill from Congress as soon after that as possible, and send the delegation to Washington once that bill has been passed. Puerto Rico could take part in the next presidential election, and would begin to see the benefits of statehood sooner. But a look at U.S. history shows that there are many different paths to statehood.
Tell your legislators what you think about the new bill in Puerto Rico.