In Part 3 of our conversation with Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon explains why Puerto Rico status is a national issue, not a local one for Puerto Rico.
Rep. Gonzalez-Colon reviewed the Puerto Rico Status Act, the bill currently in Congress which will give the voters of Puerto Rico a choice among the constitutionally possible political status options. She explained that when she talks with other Members of Congress about this bill, some will say, “I do not have a lot of Puerto Ricans living in my district. Why should I hear this issue out?”
The congresswoman suggests that they should imagine having no vote — having to accept decisions made for you by someone else every day.
George Laws Garcia, Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Statehood Council, said, “For a lot of people living in the states, it’s hard to think how this impacts them. Why is this issue important? Why should they pay attention to this?”
Gonzalez-Colon mentioned the influence of China, Russia, and Iran on Puerto Rico’s neighbors: Cuba, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Colombia. “How can people in Latin American countries feel comfortable about national security if the United States leaves an island that is a U.S. possession without any protection?” She spoke further about the influences in the Caribbean from the adversaries of the United States.
“More than ever Puerto Rico should be an asset for national security in the Caribbean.” As a bridge to Latin America, Puerto Rico has the capacity to support democracy elsewhere in the world. “Look at what’s happening in Nicaragua and Venezuela! That’s not how we want to go.”
Laws Garcia brought up the Chinese presence in Cuba and Gonzalez-Colon added the Russian presence in Venezuela.
Supply chain disruption
Gonzalez-Colon reminded viewers of the supply chain issues affecting healthcare during the pandemic. Essential items like saline solution which are produced in Puerto Rico were in short supply, with disastrous effects in the states. “We’re part of the community of America. If something is happening in Puerto Rico it will affect directly each state.”
“You don’t ask the people of New York what they have in common with the people of Texas.”
Asked what the readers of PR51st can do to support the effort to achieve equality for Puerto Rico, Gonzalez-Colon asked us to thank our representatives in Congress. “Even with the will of the people and elected representatives, the will has not been heard,” she said. “Puerto Rico is ready to become a state.” If you live in a state and your senators and congressional reps have not yet cosponsored the Puerto Rico Status Act, encourage them to get on the right side of history and support these bills now!