For Immediate Release
July 25, 2023
PRSC and 106 Pro-Statehood Leaders Urge Congress to Hold Hearings on Puerto Rico’s Status and Raise Concerns About National Security
Washington, D.C.- Ahead of the 125th anniversary of the U.S. landing in Puerto Rico during the Spanish American War, on July 25, 1898, the Puerto Rico Statehood Council (PRSC) and 106 organization leaders, veterans and citizen advocates supporting statehood for Puerto Rico sent a letter to the House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman, Rep. Bruce Westerman, urging him to hold legislative hearings on resolving Puerto Rico’s political status as a matter of both civil rights and U.S. national security.
The letter highlights the need to continue the bipartisan efforts to end Puerto Rico’s undemocratic territory status, which led to the House passage of the Puerto Rico Status Act (PRSA) last Congress with the bipartisan vote of 233-191. That historic vote was the first time the House of Representatives had passed legislation to offer voters in Puerto Rico a binding vote on the non-territorial options of statehood, independence, or independence with free association as their future political status.
The letter reiterates Chairman Westerman’s own statements from last year’s floor debate, when he called for “open, transparent hearings, and markups” about resolving Puerto Rico’s status. Although the PRSA was reintroduced this year as H.R. 2757, the Committee has yet to hold hearings on the issue. The letter calls attention to the urgent need to hold hearings and advance the legislative process not only as a way to help Puerto Rico, but also as a way to address America’s national security interests in the Caribbean and Latin America which are being challenged by China. The letter argues that Congress simply can’t afford to continue keeping Puerto Rico under the weak and underdeveloped territory status.
“America’s territories play a critical role in its national security by providing a forward operating presence in both the Pacific and the Caribbean. Yet after 125 years as a U.S. territory the lack of democracy and equality inherent to Puerto Rico’s current political status has weakened America’s largest and most populous territory leading to detrimental loss of population and undermining its economic development potential. This has to stop now. We urge Chairman Westerman to recognize the importance of Puerto Rico to America’s national security interests and hold hearings to continue advancing legislation to give U.S. citizens there the opportunity to finally choose among the non-territory options. This is necessary not only to strengthen Puerto Rico, but also to bolster America’s presence and role on the global stage.” said George H. Laws García, Executive Director of the PRSC.
“Those of us who support statehood for Puerto Rico share a vision for a stronger, more prosperous and free America that can continue to lay the foundation for prosperity and democracy both at home and across the globe. Puerto Rico has already made countless contributions to America’s success, from our history of military service, to our astronauts and engineers, but the island needs full democracy and equality to be able to truly thrive and make even greater contributions to peace and security at the global level,” concluded Laws García.
The signers of the letter include retired military officials, civil society leaders and grassroots activists which hail from DC, DE, FL, GA, MA, MD, NJ, NY, PR, RI, VA and WA demonstrating the growing reach of the Puerto Rico statehood movement.
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 full equality and democracy for the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico through statehood.
Puerto Rico Statehood Council
1000 Maine Avenue SW
Washington, District of Columbia 20024