Rep. Pierluisi delivered a speech in the House recently calling for action from Congress once the people of Puerto Rico confirm the results of the 2012 referendum. A new, Federally funded vote on Puerto Rico’s status has been included in the federal budget.
After more than a year, the territorial government of Puerto Rico still has not scheduled the vote. They have not agreed on the options they want to include on the ballot, even though the Department of Justice must approve the options.
“In contrast to Puerto Rico’s current territory status,” Rep. Pierluisi pointed out, “statehood would deliver to my constituents what all free people deserve: full voting rights, full self-government, and full equality under the law. And unlike separate nationhood, which is the only other non-territory option available to Puerto Rico, statehood would help rebuild the island’s shattered economy and improve quality of life.”
But Pierluisi’s main point in this video is not that statehood would be best for Puerto Rico, but that it would also be best for the nation as a whole. Pierluisi quoted Senator Ron Wyden, who said, “For a nation founded on the principles of democracy and the consent of the governed, how much longer can America allow a condition to persist in which nearly four million U.S. citizens do not have a vote in the government that makes the national laws which affect their daily lives?”
The speech goes on to point out the economic benefits to the U.S. in statehood for Puerto Rico, since the state of Puerto Rico would be better able to solve the economic crisis now facing the territory of Puerto Rico. “The U.S. stands to gain from the state of Puerto Rico’s success,” said Rep. Pierluisi, “just as it currently pays a severe price for the territory’s shortcomings.”
The speech ended with a political point: it is not possible to predict which way Puerto Ricans will vote, when it comes to the U.S. Republican and Democratic parties, so both sides should see Puerto Rico’s statehood as an opportunity.