Puerto Rico Statehood Commission presented in Washington, D.C.
SAN JUAN – After the Puerto Rico resident commissioner in Washington, D.C., Jenniffer González, delivered a message on the floor of the U.S. House demanding equal treatment for Puerto Rico, the members of the Statehood Commission presented their credentials during a conference in Congress’ press office.
During her speech before members of Congress, González emphasized that after almost 120 years as a U.S. territory, Puerto Rico remains a colony under a territorial clause.
“Our residents are treated as second-class citizens. For all these years, the federal government has denied equal rights to Puerto Ricans who, in turn, both in times of war and peace, have made countless contributions to our nation,” the resident commissioner denounced.
“Men and women who have bravely fought in every conflict of this country since the great war, defending our democratic values are however denied the right to vote for the commander in chief and to have full representation in Congress,” she added during her speech.
González pointed out that Puerto Rico has experienced long-term inequity under federal laws, which, she said, were revealed to the entire world after the devastation wrought by Hurricane María on the island.
“Prior to that, hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans have already rejected that discrimination, choosing to buy their equallity through a one-way ticket to the state of Florida or changing state zip codes. Without equitable rights and responsibilities, which are only available through statehood, Puerto Rico will never be able to rise and prosper from the effects of that hurricane,” the New Progressive Party leader said.
González demanded statehood for Puerto Rico by using the victories of this status ideology during the 2012 plebiscite, in which statehood surpassed the other status options with 61% of the votes, and the controversial results of the. 2016 referendum, in which statehood was chosen with 97% of the votes, but whose voter participation was the lowest in the history of the island with a little more than 20% of the electorate registered in the State Elections Commission.
The resident commissioner formally presented the Statehood Commission as Puerto Rico’s delegation to Congress, underlining that it will require that the United States recognize the island’s desire to become a state, as was the case for Tennessee, from where the strategy’s name was adopted, as well as Oregon, California, Iowa, Kansas and Alaska.
“Mr. president, statehood will make Puerto Rico stronger and will make the United States an even stronger union. No other territory of the nation has had to wait as long as Puerto Rico to be granted independence or to be admitted as a state. For a long time the federal government has remained silent, perpetuating with its inaction that imposed hybrid congressional and discriminatory status, which former President Ronald Reagan cataloged as ‘historically natural,'” she concluded.
Later, at the Congressional press office, commission members, accompanied by Puerto Rico Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz and Puerto Rico House Speaker Carlos “Johnny” Méndez, as well as the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló, presented their proposal in front of the media.
“The United States, the bulwark of democracy, has a pending issue and therefore does not have the moral standing to preach democracy and equality in other countries if it does not do it in its own home,” Puerto Rico’s governor said. He also pointed out that seeing the shadow congressional delegation of Puerto Rico walk the halls of the U.S. Capitol was extremely moving.
“I must confess that it is an emotional moment for me to see our delegation here in Congress, ready to fight against the inequality suffered by the people of Puerto Rico. We will take this fight to all parts of the United States and we will make sure to actively support those who support equality for Puerto Rico, but in the same way will fight those who do not. Today is a great day for Puerto Rico,” the governor stressed.