51 Organizations Sign Letter Supporting Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act & Opposing Velázquez/AOC/Menendez/Sanders Puerto Rico Status Bill 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 18, 2021
ContactComms@prstatehoodcouncil.org

Washington, D.C. – Today, 51 organizations, 44 of which are based in Puerto Rico, signed on to a letter in support of the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act (H.R. 1522 and S. 780) calling on the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to approve that legislation. The organizations also expressed opposition to the new Puerto Rico status bill presented by Rep. Nydia Velázquez, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortéz, Sen. Bob Menendez and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The full text of the letter is below and a link to a pdf can be found here.

George Laws García, the Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Statehood Council, the organization that led efforts to coordinate the group letter, said, “This letter brings together a broad cross-section of civil society groups from Puerto Rico, and some of their allies stateside, speaking on behalf of the majority of voters who said ‘YES’ to statehood last November. These organizations are part of a citizen movement that represents youth, elderly, professionals, seniors, veterans, communities of faith, current and former elected and appointed officials, democrats, republicans and independents. We are calling on Congress to listen to and respect the will of the majority of Puerto Rico’s voters by passing the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act.

“Yesterday’s introduction of S. 780, the Senate companion bill to H.R. 1522, means there are now bills in both chambers of Congress directly responding to the results of last year’s election in Puerto Rico where 53% voted for statehood. By setting the terms of admission and offering statehood, contingent on a local ratification vote, the bill allows the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico to have a clear and direct choice on their future without imposing an outcome. If a majority choose statehood, then Puerto Rico will be admitted after a brief transition period. And if a majority of Puerto Rico’s voters oppose statehood, then the island remains a territory with the option to pursue independence or free association at any point in the future,” added Laws García.

“A direct choice by voters based on a clearly defined constitutionally valid option is real ‘self-determination’ because it responds to the will of the majority of voters as expressed to date, and its results are binding and self-executing. This stands in contrast with the ‘Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act’ espoused by Representatives Velázquez and Ocasio-Cortéz that would ignore Puerto Rico’s voters and create a convoluted status convention. This would just delay action and keep Puerto Rico a colony longer against the will of the majority.

“These Members of Congress are trying to replace the results of the recent free and fair plebiscite with a drawn-out process that includes semi-permanent delegates, re-negotiation with Congress on the available status options before the approval of the Puerto Rican people, and then a plebiscite that is ultimately non-binding and would require additional action by Congress to implement the final results. That would be a huge step backward for the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico, who have made it increasingly clear in the last decade that they reject continuing under the current colonial territory status, and a majority favor full democracy and equal rights through statehood. Justice delayed is justice denied, which is why the organizations in our letter all agree that Congress should move swiftly to pass the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act,” concluded Laws García.

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March 18, 2021

The Honorable Raúl Grijalva
Chairman, House Committee on Natural Resources

The Honorable Bruce Westerman
Ranking Member, House Committee on Natural Resources

The Honorable Joe Manchin
Chairman, Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources

The Honorable John Barrasso
Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources

Dear Chairman Grijalva, Ranking Member Westerman, Chairman Manchin, Ranking Member Barrasso:

For over one-hundred years, the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico have been disenfranchised in federal elections and subjected to unequal treatment across federal programs. Last November, voters stood up to change that when an absolute majority of 53% demanded statehood in a locally sponsored referendum. The Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act, H.R. 1522 and S. 780, directly respond to that mandate, and we urge you to support it and help get it approved as soon as possible.

Puerto Rico’s referendum was historic because it is the first time that statehood received unquestionable majority support on the island with a simple “YES” or “NO” vote. The 117th Congress is therefore presented with a unique opportunity to make history and put an end to America’s inherently colonial rule over Puerto Rico, which runs counter to America’s values of democracy, equal justice under the law, and government by the consent of the governed.

We recognize there are some in Congress, such as Rep. Nydia Velázquez (NY) and Sen. Robert Menendez (NJ), who oppose statehood for Puerto Rico and have completely ignored the results of the referendum held last November. Today, they will be submitting a counter-proposal, the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act (PRSDA), which has faced criticism from representatives of all status options.

The most significant concern, across party lines, is that the PRSDA is ultimately non-binding. Under the bill, Congress would be under no obligation to implement whichever status option is chosen by the convention and later voted on by the electorate. This would represent a huge setback for voters in Puerto Rico who have engaged in multiple acts of self-determination over the last decade and have shown, with increasing clarity, that Puerto Rico’s voters reject the current territory status and favor statehood above all non-territory options.

Beyond the will of the people on the island, however, Puerto Ricans stateside also favor statehood by wide margins. For example, recent polls show 81% of Puerto Rican residents in Florida and 69% of those in New York favor the admission of the island as a state. A majority of Americans have also supported the idea for decades according to Gallup. This is a settled issue on the island as well as across the Nation, and Congress has a moral obligation to act.

The only legislative option that respects the will of the people of Puerto Rico, and ensures a binding process of self-determination is H.R. 1522 & S. 780, the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act. By offering statehood, stipulating the terms of admission, and requiring a ratification vote, Congress would finally open the door to full equality and democracy for the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico while leaving the ultimate choice in their hands. If a majority opposes statehood at that point, then the island would remain a territory with the capacity to pursue independence or free association through the procedural mechanism of their choice, including a status convention. Congress has a moral obligation to let the people of Puerto Rico decide their own self-determination process.

Our organizations represent the majority of voters in Puerto Rico, as well as their allies stateside. We believe it’s time to put an end to the dysfunctional, outdated, and undemocratic territory status to which Puerto Rico has been subjected. We call on Congress to open the door to full enfranchisement and equality for our fellow U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico by supporting and passing the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act. America can and must do better.

George H. Laws García
Executive Director
Puerto Rico Statehood Council

Annabel Guillén
President
Igualdad, Futuro Seguro

Irma R. Rodríguez
President
Puerto Rico Escogió Estadidad

Kathianie Banchs
President
Young Professionals for Puerto Rico Statehood

José Cabrera
Chair
Puerto Rico Star Project

Hon. César Méndez-Otero
President
Coalicion Pro Derechos E Igualdad

Dr. Zayira Jordan
Founder
Frente Estadista

Jesús Pérez
Executive Director
52 States of America

Dr. José Vicente
President
Alianza Pastoral por Puerto Rico

Hon. Iván D. Hernández
Chairman
Consejo de Ex Alcaldes de Puerto Rico

Harry Márquez Rodríguez
President
Organizacíon de Pensionados Estadistas

Hon. Kenneth McClintock
President
Puerto Rico Equality Forum

Hon. José Aponte-Hernandez
Executive Director
Instituto Misión Estadista

Brig. Gen. Victor Pérez (Ret.)
Director
Organización de Veteranos Progresistas

Luis Dávila Pernas
National Committeeman
Democratic Party of Puerto Rico

Ricardo Aponte
Executive Director
Republican Party of Puerto Rico

Gabriela M. Medina Marrero
President
Young Democrats of Puerto Rico

Josué Rivera
Chairman
Puerto Rico Young Republican Federation

Hon. Luis Berrios-Amadeo
Former Shadow U.S. Representative (I-PR)
Puerto Rico Statehood Commission

Frankie Martínez-Blanco
Former Associate Member
President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status

Hon. Milagros López
President
Votar es Poder

Ken Oliver
Director
United States Council for Puerto Rico Statehood

Elvin Méndez-Rosa
President
Movimiento Revolucíon Estadista

Luis Matos
President
Renacer Ideológico Estadista

Jorge I. Rodríguez Feliciano
President
Puertorriqueños Pro Unión Permanente

Wilfredo Rivera
President
Impulso 51/Estado Igualdad

Joel Salgado
Administrator
La Suprema Definición

Ricardo Marrero Passapera
President
Ahora Sí Puerto Rico

Gerardo Ramirez
Director
Movimineto Estadista Puertorriqueño

Javier de la Luz
Founder
Boricuas con Kamala

Ruth Marrero
President
Senior 51

José A. Correa Alvarado
Outreach Coordinator
We The People

Alexander Acevedo
Spokesperson
Democratas Activaos

Hon. Roberto Lefranc Fortuño
President
Juventud Estadista de Guaynabo

Emilio Ruiz
Lead Organizer
Puerto Rico Statehood Supporters of Florida & USA

Kemuel Delgado
Founder & Lead Organizer
Junte Estadista de Puerto Rico

Dess Soto
Coordinator
Coalicion Pro Derechos E Igualdad
PR51 Florida Chapter

Margarita Vives
President
Coalicion Pro Derechos E Igualdad
PR51 Guaynabo City Chapter

Elizabeth Reyes
Spokesperson
Puerto Rico Equality Coalition, Massachussetts Chapter

Eric Cardona
Spokesperson
Puerto Rico Equality Coalition, Florida Chapter

Doralice Matta
Founder & President
Las Avispas Azules

Pedro Luis Hernandez Gomez
Lead Orgnizer
Bateador Estadista

Edgardo Vargas Moya
Spokesperson
Isabelinos por la Igualdad

Iván G. González
Editor & Chief
Inside The Colony

Reina Davis Pérez
President
Statehood Educational Group

Nilka Marrero Garcia, M.Div
President
Misión Solidaria de Amor

Kevin Romero
President
Instituto de Política Pública y Estadidad

Benny Ortiz
President & CEO
Los Latigos Azules

Francisco “Pompy” González
Presidente
Estado PRUSA

Cristóbal Berrios
President
Acción Civil Para El Status

Samuel Rodríguez
CEO
Borinqueneers Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony National Committee
The Puerto Rico Statehood Council is a Washington, D.C. based, non-partisan, 501(c)4 non-profit issue advocacy organization. We are dedicated to advancing the goal of equality for the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico through statehood.