Jean Guerrero wrote an opinion piece in the L.A. Times which has been widely syndicated across the web. In this essay, she points out that the current territory status is bad for Puerto Rico, and describes the two status bills currently being considered in Congress.

“The bills are the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act and the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act,” Guerrero writes. “Only the latter, co-sponsored by New York Reps. Nydia Velázquez and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is truly democratic.”

This is not the case.

HR 2070

“The self-determination bill would create a ‘status convention’ consisting of delegates elected by Puerto Ricans. The delegates would debate and define the implications of various status options — such as statehood, independence and free association (where a sovereign Puerto Rico would retain U.S. economic assistance and transfer agreed-upon authorities to the U.S., such as military defense),” she writes, “in consultation with a congressional negotiating commission. The bill would fund strong education efforts on this issue and Puerto Ricans would then vote on the options in a referendum. The results would be binding on Congress. Ocasio-Cortez says the bill is ‘status agnostic.’”

This may sound like self determination. However, the status convention would debate statehood and independence, including independence with free association. Both of these options have been being debated in Puerto Rico for decades. Unfortunately, the status convention also hopes to debate other options, including the old “enhanced commonwealth” dressed up with the new term “free association.”

Free association is a treaty between two sovereign nations, not a bold new option allowing the unconstitutional “enhanced commonwealth” to rise from its funeral pyre. The U.S. Constitution allows a territory to become a state or an independent nation. No other status is possible under the Constitution.

Binding?

Gerrero also claims that the result of the status convention would be “binding on Congress.” This is not the case. The Department of Justice has already clearly said so.

HR 1522, the Puerto Rico Statehood Admissions Bill, calls on Congress to offer statehood to Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico can then accept the offer or refuse it. If Puerto Rico once again chooses statehood, the bill would be self executing.

However, HR 2070 cannot require Congress to accept whatever the status convention comes up with.

HR 1522

Guerrero claims that the statehood bill “aims to impose a status based on a nonbinding referendum from November 2020, when about 53% of Puerto Rican voters answered ‘yes’ to the question: ‘Should Puerto Rico be immediately admitted into the Union as a state?’”

It is true that HR 1522 respects the November 2020 vote. A referendum is, by its nature, nonbinding. There is nothing sketchy about a nonbinding referendum. It was a democratically held vote under the auspices of the democratically elected government of Puerto Rico, and the majority of voters chose statehood.

The word “impose” has no business in any discussion of this option.

Guerrero references the other referenda that have taken place in Puerto Rico, but describes them as “flawed and inconclusive.” She expresses concern about voter turnout. In fact, in a democracy, the majority of voters make the decisions.

The anti-statehood factions have done their best to sow doubt and confusion about the plebiscites, but you can’t just keep holding votes until you get the results you want. In 2012, 2017, and 2020, Puerto Rico voters chose statehood. They will have another chance to vote under HR 1522, and in that case, they will be voting on the offer presented by Congress. That is self-determination.

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One response

  1. “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
    John Adams

    Puerto Rico non-colonial constitutional status options Facts

    * Statehood
    * Independence
    * Free Association: a form of independence – ELA (mejorado)

    H.R. 2070 / S. 865 Facts

    * Imposes a constitutional convention.
    * Imposes an unnecessary process to yet define status options, ignoring the only two indisputable Constitutional options – Statehood or Independence.
    * Imposes an administrative format that will only serve to hold up and obstruct resolving PR status.

    By doing so, it ignores, detours, bypasses and intends to silence the result of the latest 2020 plebiscite in favor of Statehood – 53% of the electorate majority.
    By doing so, it recklessly steps over our democracy and our constitutional rights and values.
    By doing so, it glorifies the wishes of a radical extremists vociferous electorate minority.
    By doing so, it submits to the local and multinational financial tax shelter/evasion interests interfering with Puerto Rico’s economic, social and political future.
    By doing so, it exposes the fragility of the average voter over the financial and political power of special interests.
    By doing so, it opens the door for voters to elect congressional members who are and will be faithful to support and defend our Constitution.

    H. R. 1522 / S. 780 Facts

    * Democratically acknowledges the results of the 2020 plebiscite favoring statehood by 53%.
    * Provides an administrative format for a ratification vote. Through these bill voters STILL have an option to opt-out of Statehood, if they so wish.
    * It respects the democratic process and our constitution.

    Reality check

    * Current ELA – territorial status time has come and gone. The desperate stubbornness to perpetuate it, only adds to the anticolonial argument.

    * Puerto Rico will not have full constitutional rights and political power unless it become s a State of the union.

    * The radical extremists minority planned chaos strategy is match in its insurgent encore by the hubris arrogance of the plutocratic elite. Both extremes continue to negatively impact the democratic constitutional process Puerto Rico and it’s local residents deserve.

    * Congress ongoing stall to pass H.R. 1522/ S.780 unfavorably detracts from what should be their unwavering constitutional support and legacy towards the USA citizens of Puerto Rico.

    * The preservation of our Constitution remains in the hands of all of us, through our chosen electorate votes of honorable and responsible elected officials in Puerto Rico and the mainland.

    Congressional Responsibility Facts

    * Honor the oath of office.
    * Support and defend our Constitution.
    * Protect our regional and international National Security in Puerto Rico.
    * Respect Puerto Rico’s USA citizens clear majority pro Statehood votes.
    * Stop allowing ELA territorial status to serve as a tax shelter /evasion for locals and corporate multinationals while destroying the middle class and perpetuating the local poverty.
    * Mark up H.R. 1522 / S. 780 – the only constitutional worthy bills to resolve permanently Puerto Rico’s colonial territorial Status.

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