Puerto Rico’s Rep in US Congress confident in achieving statehood
SAN JUAN – With results favoring statehood in Sunday’s plebiscite, Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González believes that “the moment of equality for Puerto Rico has arrived.”
González, who has served as Puerto Rico’s representative in Washington since January, referred to the results of 97% of the vote as a “clear mandate” to begin the process to decolonize the island via statehood.
“Everyone had the opportunity to vote. Half a million of those who voted on Sunday did so in favor of equality as American citizens,” the resident commissioner said on the referendum’s results, in which statehood garnered 502,616 votes (97.18%), while free association / independence obtained 7,779 votes (1.5%), and the current territorial status got 6,821 votes (1.32%).
González, of the New Progressive Party (NPP), reiterated that “elections are determined by those who vote, not by those who stay home.”
“It is clear that the majority of Puerto Ricans want statehood. That is why leaders from certain factions urged people not to vote, because they knew that the current territorial status and independence were going to lose,” she said in a phone interview with Caribbean Business.
The official, who can only cast committee votes in Congress, said last week that many members of congress from both national parties told her they would respect and support the will Puerto Ricans.
The resident commissioner was hopeful these legislators would help her convey the will expressed by voters to the rest of Congress, “that statehood is the only real alternative to Puerto Rico’s territorial status, and that that territorial condition has limited and disadvantaged the island’s economy.”
“Not only will I pressure my colleagues and the leadership in Congress to listen to the voices of these American citizens, but more importantly, to respect the will of voters. The time has come for equality in Puerto Rico,” González emphasized in a written statement released Sunday.
The NPP official dismissed the low voter turnout—only 23% of voters participated—and noted that there have been events in the United States that have registered low voter participation as well.
“Democracy belongs to those who vote. All results of any voting process is awarded to whoever draws the largest number of votes, regardless of the percentage of participation,” she stressed.