Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner, Pedro Pierluisi, spoke at a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee on the economic position of Puerto Rico. He expressed frustration on behalf of the people of Puerto Rico:
My constituents are understandably weary of studies, reports, plans and working groups. They are tired of empty promises and ill-informed proposals. They want, and they deserve, action on the part of political leaders in San Juan and Washington, DC. They seek smart policies, swiftly implemented, that will have a tangible impact on their lives.
The hearing included extensive discussions of Puerto Rico’s debt, health care issues, bills being considered, and many more details of the economic situation of Puerto Rico in the past, present, and future.
But Pierluisi also expressed his belief that Puerto Rico’s status as a territory is the center of the economic problems in the territory:
I look forward to the day when my constituents have the exact same rights and responsibilities as their fellow American citizens in the states — not better treatment, not worse treatment and not “special” treatment.That new day is just over the horizon. Puerto Rico voted against territory status and for statehood in 2012, and it is likely that voters in the territory will confirm their desire for statehood in a federally-sponsored referendum in 2017. Puerto Rico will then use every appropriate means to petition Congress to enact legislation making the territory a state. In the history of this country, no valid statehood petition by a territory has been rejected by the federal government.In the immediate term, there is much that the Puerto Rico government and the federal government can do to help the territory manage its economic, fiscal and demographic crisis. However, for Puerto Rico to truly prosper, it must be treated equally. And to be treated equally, it must become a state.