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An Open Letter to President Obama from NAUS

The National Association for Uniformed Services (NAUS) has written an open letter to President Obama asking him to end the second class U.S. citizenship for Puerto Ricans.

The letter begins with a plea:

Please, join American Patriots [and] help get the Federal Government to end a second class US Citizenship. This complex equal rights quandary that affects millions is not only about a “Group” Vote on the status question, but, more important, it’s about protecting individual civil rights in our representative democracy-where the US citizen should be the epicenter of our Republic, not the undemocratic territorial control of the land… We must end political oppression with truth and fairness!

A reminder of the historical context follows, concluding with, “In 1917, Congress erred in imposing on Puerto Rico a statutory “second class US citizenship” (without all rights responsibilities, & benefits) that doesn’t permit loyal US citizens (including fighting US veterans) to vote in Federal elections nor have just representation in the Congress that determines their destiny.”

The letter summarizes the results of the plebiscite and suggests that the United States has two honorable courses available:

  • [E]nd an undemocratic Federal Territorial Status that goes against the grain of our American democracy; start the transition process (which should not take more than 3-5 years) to admit Puerto Rico as the 51st State of our Union.”
  • [P]romptly conduct a federally sanctioned Plebiscite that is non-territorial & self-determined… truthfully define US Constitutional options… which are: 1. Statehood…(or) 2. Independence.

The letter notes that a territory of the United States cannot enter into an equal pact of any kind with the United States government. This has been confirmed repeatedly by many authorities in discussions of a possible “Enhanced Commonwealth.” NAUS points out that Puerto Rico would have to become an independent nation in order to enter into a treaty with the United States on its own behalf.

The letter continues with a discussion of the value of Puerto Rico to the United States, listing the military value, the resources, and the people of Puerto Rico:

Our Nation is formed by the union of States [each with its] own State sovereignty, identity, uniqueness, diversity. US citizens in PR, like other states, are a very complex group of people that are legally born US citizens- part of our US multi-ethnic and beautiful “Tapestry” of vibrant colors that is united and bonded together by common values and purpose for the good of all.

The letter touches on the idea that Puerto Rico is somehow too foreign or too different from other states to be incorporated successfully into the Union and rejects that claim.

“We must stop confusing the people by calling PR a ‘Commonwealth’,” the letter concludes. “Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King (who stood for a government of the People and equality) would be appalled that the US Territory of PR is still an undemocratic dinosaur of our trite colonial past!”

Finally, there is a petition for action on the question of Puerto Rico’s status, and supporting notes. See the PDF file of the letter.


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