Sunday, February 5, 2023

NPP Active With Pro-Statehood Plan

By on May 27, 2017

This past week the Puerto Rico Legislature approved HB 876, which creates a mechanism to establish congressional representation that would push the U.S. Congress to address a request for Puerto Rico statehood.

The so-called “Tennessee Plan” was approved with support from legislators from the ruling New Progressive Party (NPP) and opposed by Popular Democratic (PDP) and Puerto Rican Independence (PIP) party legislators. The bill was filed in mid-March by the administration of Ricardo Rosselló Nevares and created the “Equality & Congressional Representation of the American Citizens of Puerto Rico Act.”

(Juan J. Rodríguez/CB)

After the law is enacted, Gov. Rosselló Nevares will appoint two Puerto Rican “senators” and five “representatives” to endorse statehood for Puerto Rico, who will go to Congress to promote that political status option.

The bill’s explanatory memorandum states: “It is time for Puerto Rico to request and demand what belongs to us by right; for Washington [the time has come] to listen to the moral voice of its ancestors and to honor the ideals enshrined in the history of the United States of America.”

It adds: “This measure is one of the key pieces to make the federal government of the United States of America address the colonial status problem that prevents Puerto Rico’s social and economic growth.”

In 1796, the Tennessee Plan was used as a pressure mechanism by citizens of the then-territory, through which they approved a constitution and chose congressmen who would represent them in Congress—without first being admitted as a state of the Union. The initiative’s goal was to claim inclusion as a state, which proved successful.

NPP Confident in Possible Federal Approval of Status Referendum

The Tennessee Plan is part of the local administration’s efforts to push Congress to consider Puerto Rico’s admission as a U.S. state.

On Jan. 3, as part of the pro-statehood plan, Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González submitted—jointly with Gov. Rosselló Nevarez—an admission bill in Congress. The effort will be accompanied by the results of the June 11 status plebiscite, in which the local government assumes statehood will emerge victorious.

The status plebiscite will only see statehood supporters as participants, since independence and free association supporters have decided to boycott the process after the territorial option was included as a decolonizing formula.

The PDP, the main opposition party, also chose to boycott the plebiscite because “commonwealth” was not included as an option in the consultation.

NPP Begins Lobbying Efforts in D.C. for Status Referendum

In January, when submitting the admission bill to Congress, González said: “This measure sets the tone for what my congressional work will be: to fight tirelessly to end colonialism in Puerto Rico and to do justice to the more than three million [U.S.] American citizens residing in Puerto Rico by obtaining full equality of rights, which is only possible under statehood.”

The admission bill establishes a process to achieve statehood by 2025, after winning a plebiscite endorsed by Congress under federal law (PL 113-76) and congressional districts are determined according to 2020 Census data.

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