In May, 2020, the government of Puerto Rico passed an act called “Act to Define Puerto Rico’s Ultimate Political Status.” This law delineated every possible rule for holding a referendum to settle Puerto Rico’s political status.
From the way the vote would be announced in news sources to the value of unvoted ballots (none), the Act covers every single detail of the vote. Its 53 pages outline the process with an intention to “resolve” the status question with a final decision.
The vote took place as planned, and the voters chose YES for statehood. The 2020 vote therefore ratifies the 2012 and 2017 plebiscites, which also came out in favor of statehood. It is a resolution of the status issue, the decision of the ultimate political status of Puerto Rico.
The votes of 2012 and 2017 were legitimate acts of self-determination. Congressman Raul Grijalva recently wrote a letter to the Department of Justice emphasizing the fact that Puerto Rico clearly rejected its territorial status in 2012, leaving the United States in clear violation of the principle that government must be by the consent of the governed.
“Therefore,” says the Act, “since the Plebiscite of 2012, the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico have continued to suffer the inequalities and disadvantages of the territory status despite having rejected it through a vote and self-determination.”
Statehood is the preferred status of the majority in Puerto Rico, and repeated ballots have not changed this. The 2020 vote, more carefully planned and defined than any previous plebiscite, was also a valid act of self-determination.
Continued talk about self-determination for Puerto Rico after three successive votes for statehood is absurd. Congress has no business repeating, “Just make up your minds and tell us what you want” when Puerto Rico has already made an official request for statehood.
Continued attempts to delegitimize the ballots cast by the voters of Puerto Rico are improper. The voters of Puerto Rico have made their decision.
Puerto Rico has chosen statehood. The Act specifies what should happen at this point. “Should the Statehood ‘Yes’ option be favored by a majority vote, a transition process shall begin forthwith to admit Puerto Rico into the Union, as described in the Act.”
The Act continues, “The Transition Plan shall be delivered to the Congress leadership of both national political parties and to the President of the United States for the purpose of implementing the transition process as promptly as the People of Puerto Rico warrant. The Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico in Washington, DC, shall introduce the appropriate federal legislation and the Equality Commission shall advocate for its approval in Congress.”
The decision has been made, and now it is time for action.