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Shadow delegation urges Congress to admit Puerto Rico as a state

By on March 6, 2018

SAN JUAN – Members of Puerto Rico’s shadow congressional delegation, known as the Statehood Commission, sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to all members of Congress, urging them to admit Puerto Rico as the 51st State of the Union.

The letter was sent by the commission as part of its task to “create awareness in Washington, DC about the island’s colonial relationship with the United States, and the need to achieve equality through statehood.” The  100th anniversary of Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship marked the occasion.

“As this celebration of 100 years of American citizenship comes to an end, we call on Congress to recognize that the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico live at a disadvantage compared to our fellow citizens in the states. Puerto Ricans are subject to Federal laws but do not have voting representation,” the letter reads.

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During Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s second State of the Commonwealth address Monday evening, he said the agenda to achieve admission as a state would continue to be pursued by the Puerto Rico Statehood Commission.

 

The delegation mirrors the process by which the former Territory of Tennessee petitioned and attained statehood. Tennessee sent a shadow Congressional delegation to Washington, D.C., to demand recognition and statehood. In 1796, Tennessee became the 16th state. Since then, six former territories have successfully carried out similar plans, the last one being Alaska in 1959, a release announcing the letter explains.

The release gives a brief history of the Puerto Rico’s relation to the United States, explaining it became U.S. territory when it was ceded by Spain in 1898. Then, in 1917, “on the eve of America’s entry into World War I, Congress granted citizenship to Puerto Ricans through the Jones-Shafroth Act (P.L. 64-368). Since then, Puerto Ricans have served in all armed conflicts defending America’s interests abroad yet cannot vote for their Commander in Chief.”

Puerto Rico Statehood Commission presented in Washington, D.C.

The 2017 political status plebiscite, where “97% of Puerto Rican voters overwhelmingly supported statehood for the U.S. territory,” is also mentioned as a stepping stone to the creation of the Statehood Commission.

Former Gov. Carlos Romero Barceló (D) and National Committeewoman of the Republican Party of Puerto Rico Zoraida Fonalledas (R) serve as senators in the delegation, while former Gov. Pedro Rosselló (D), former Gov. Luis Fortuño (R), former Puerto Rico Senate President and current State Chair of the Democratic Party of Puerto Rico Charles Rodríguez (D), former Chief of the U.S. Office of Citizenship Alfonso Aguilar (R), and baseball Hall of Famer Iván “Pudge” Rodríguez (I) serve as representatives.

Read the letter here.

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