Congress Bill Favors Puerto Rico Independence
SAN JUAN – Democratic Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) will file a bill Tuesday to push a federal plebiscite in which Puerto Ricans would vote between independence and a “free-association” pact, or commonwealth, between the island and the United States.
The measure will be filed one week after Gov. Ricardo Rosselló signed the Law for the Immediate Decolonization of Puerto Rico, which authorizes a status referendum to be carried out June 11, in which voters will have to decide between statehood and independence/free association.
The Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) will offer more details about the bill Tuesday at a press conference in its headquarters in Puerto Nuevo,Calixto Negrón, the party’s press official, said.
According to a draft that began to circulate in San Juan, the bill establishes, among other things, that “Puerto Rico’s annexation as a state of the Union would be detrimental both to the United States as well as Puerto Rico. It is time to bring back sovereignty to Puerto Rico.”
It also argues that the current territorial status —rejected in the 2012 plebiscite— represents “unsustainable” political subordination, and that “statehood and full assimilation —in which Puerto Rico gives up its national identity, its culture, its olympic team, its language and its ability to determine its future— isn’t the only option, and isn’t the best option for Puerto Ricans.”
On Monday, Gutiérrez reportedly said the New Progressive Party (NPP) administration wants to convene a local plebiscite that is designed to favor statehood.
According to the congressman, local media quoted, after Congress imposed the Fiscal Oversight & Management Board to control Puerto Rico’s finances, “the colonial relationship has never been stronger” and needs to be turned around.
Under the proposed legislation, every Puerto Rican native residing stateside or with a parent born on the island, would have a right to vote.
It also decrees that the bill of acquired rights to federal programs —such as veterans, pensions, and benefits from the Armed Forces— be acknowledged until their expiration; and reclaims both a process to restructure the public debt, as well as an agreement to keep the totality of federal transfers in force, as a block, during the transition period.
The bill acknowledges the possibility that in free-association, there is a chance to delegate certain powers to the United States and retain the U.S. citizenship.
Meanwhile, Puerto Rican citizenship would be recognized under independence, although those who want to keep their U.S. citizenships may do so. People born in an independent Puerto Rico could have a non-immigrant status or seek dual citizenship, if both countries agree to it in a treaty.