Rep. Luis Gutierrez has introduced legislation to hold a new plebiscite in Puerto Rico that recognizes “the U.S. territory’s sovereign nationhood” and enables voters to choose between independence or free association as the island’s new political status.
“The colonial relationship with the United States has never been starker,” the Congressman explained. “It is time to return sovereignty back to the Puerto Rican people.”
The legislation, which has no cosponsors, was referred to the House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources.
But that doesn’t mean that it didn’t gain any attention. At Change.org, a political action website, 2,083 people have already signed a petition asking Gutierrez to resign from Congress. The petition states that Congressman Luis Gutierrez should resign for: (1) Supporting Oscar López Rivera’s Freedom with the help of activists, (2) Supporting Independence for Puerto Rico instead of supporting Statehood, (3) betraying Puerto Ricans who have supported statehood and not representing the island, and (4) proposing a referendum of independence and free association excluding statehood.
Gutierrez, who represents a congressional district in the State of Illinois, introduced the bill after the Puerto Rico legislature passed and the governor signed into law a contrary proposal providing for a vote between statehood and sovereignty on June 11. If voters choose sovereignty there will be a second vote between independence and free association.
When asked by El Nuevo Dia why he had left statehood out of the bill, Gutierrez pointed out that an up or down vote on statehood had already been proposed (HR 727 in 2016 and HR 260 in 2017). Asked, “What if statehood wins in June’s referendum?” Gutierrez had a surprising answer.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “Independence is an unalienable right.”
Independence is not a right or option available to the fifty states.
A different petition at Moveon.org supports the Gutierrez proposal. The petition states: “Puerto Rico has been under US colonial rule for more than 115 years and its people have never been able to vote for President nor enjoy equal representation in US Congress. To make matters even worse, in November of 2012, the people of Puerto Rico rejected the current colonial relationship with the US in a referendum and US Congress IGNORED the results while Wall Street continues to exploit the island under the current colonial political model. ”
The petition continues, “we whole heartedly SUPPORT Congressman Luis Gutierrez’s recently filed bill HR 900 that would provide FREEDOM to Puerto Rico as a free and sovereign country. It is time to put an end to the corporate exploitation of Puerto Rico. SUPPORT HR 900 by becoming a Co-Sponsor!”
There are 1,375 signatories on the Moveon petition.