El Nuevo Dia reports that Governor Ricardo Rosselló met with U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), who reiterated that Puerto Rico voters sent “a clear and unambiguous message that they want to transition from a territory to a state”.
In an earlier statement, Wyden said that “those who stand to gain financially from a continuation of the status quo will seek to delegitimize the results of this plebiscite”.
“I wrote the law making this plebiscite possible so Congress could get a clear understanding of the wishes of the American citizens of Puerto Rico”, said Wyden in his statement.
Wyden is familiar with Puerto Rico’s situation. As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, he chaired a hearing on Puerto Rico’s status, listening to testimony from all three of Puerto Rico’s main political parties. He has visited Puerto Rico and studied the political and economic situation extensively before and after that hearing.
At the hearing, Wyden noted that “2 out of 3 of you” agreed that the “commonwealth” or territorial option was not viable. “So looking forward,” he went on, “it seems to me that it’s especially important to see if the 3 of you can come to an agreement on the language of a ballot that, in effect, has 2 remaining options: statehood, or sovereignty as an independent or freely associated State.”
This was the original ballot for June 11, 2017, but the ballot language was changed after the Department of Justice requested changes.
In fact, the three party leaders in that hearing also agreed that Puerto Rico’s voters would not support independence. The leader of the independence party suggested a vote between independence and free association, as Rep. Gutierrez did in February, and the head of the statehood party said, “If you poll in Puerto Rico whether people want to continue having their American citizenship, it’s going to be like 80 or 90 percent against [independence]. So the votes should be meaningful. That question to me is not meaningful because we already know the answer to it.” The other party leaders did not disagree.
Wyden’s official statement closes with, “Congress needs to begin looking at ways to fulfill the wishes of these fellow Americans, as it has for all previous territories that voted for statehood.”