Bill Gates Says the Way U.S. Treats Puerto Rico is “Just Wrong”

In a Rolling Stone interview published yesterday, Bill Gates is quoted as saying that the way the U.S. treats Puerto Rico is “just wrong.”

Answering a question about income inequality in the United States, the richest man in the world responded:

“When we get things right, it benefits the entire world. The world’s governments don’t copy everything we do. They see some things we do – like the way we run our postal service, or Puerto Rico – are just wrong. But they look to us for so many things. And we can do better.”

Gates brings up a point also noted by Ronald Reagan and many other high profile individuals over the years – that the United States’s role as a champion of democracy is compromised by its possession of Puerto Rico, and that the island’s status as a U.S. territory is an issue for all Americans.

 

5 Comments

Luis Angel Ramos, M.A.

Interesting comment coming from a non-politician… As a born New Yorker raised in my parent’s hometown of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico; I am Pro-Ameican and Pro-Statehood for the Comonwealth of Puerto Rico with a true equivalent treatment for Puerto Rico as any other State. This equality should be represented in the Statehood Ageement provided by Congress as the People of Puerto Rico already voted for Statehood. And as former Governor of Puerto Rico said to Congress in the 1993 Plebycite (when Miss Puerto Rico, Dayanara Torres, won Miss Universe), “This Statehood Agreement is not equivalent compared to any other US State and therefore an insult to me and my People… American Citizens… We don’t want the deal Hawaï got which made them consider a divorce”.

Anthony Montague

I have just sent a letter to the Editor in the San Juan Star precisely commenting on our servile status as a colonial territory. Kudos for Bill Gates

mario vargas

the oldest colony in the world. It is time to decide, we go toward statehood or independence. No other choice should be given. There is only left or right on our future. 4 million second class citizenship and 5 million more living the 1st class citizenship in mainland USA . Ironically, independentitas, pro-commonwealth and statehooders move to mainland looking for better life and better jobs. Congress must act, NOW.

Dennis Freytes

Bill Gates is a Patriot of true Grit! Because:
End 2d Class US Citizenship; Unfair PR Status, Now!
The complex US Territory of Puerto Rico’s equal rights quandary- that affects millions of discriminated US Citizens, is not only about a “Group Vote” on the status question, but, more essentially crucial, it’s about equal application of the US Constitution to all US Citizens; ending institutional discrimination; advancing-protecting individual civil rights in our representative democracy-where the US Citizen should be the epicenter of our Republic, not the US Government’s un-democratic territorial control of the land & People.

Facts are: In 1898, Puerto Rico (PR) was forcefully taken by the US as a spoil of war…; turned into a federally un-democratic US Territory. Then, in 1917, Congress imposed a statutory “2d Class US Citizenship” (without all rights/ benefits)–that doesn’t permit loyal US Citizens (including fighting US Veterans) residing in PR to vote in Federal elections (for their US President/Head of State) nor have just representation in the Congress that determines their destiny nor permanent US Citizenship!

Three main sources of this despotic power are: the un-democratic original Territorial Clause (states: Congress shall have the powers to dispose of and make all rules and regulations pertaining to the Territory or Property belonging to the US…); the discriminatory vestiges of the “Insular Cases” (1902-1922+); & Federal Government inaction!

The un-democratic Territorial Clause was written during the original framing of the noble US Constitution when the focus was to unite States; develop the boundaries of the Nation…with a central Federal Government responsive to a “We the People” (selective few). Then, only about 20% of US Citizens could vote. (Women, Blacks, Hispanics…could not vote.) Because of the racist/institutional biased era, it was not centered on today’s evolved essence of our democracy-true “consent of the governed”–the US Citizen with protected equal individual rights!

The Constitutional amendments have tried to redress this…but, millions of US Citizens are still suffering Federal discrimination/oppression because of faulty interpretations by Federal Courts that fail to give priority to the individual civil rights amendments …; inaction of the Federal Government to act or amend the Constitution– to leave no doubt that the US Citizen (with protected individual civil rights) is the linchpin of our representative democracy!

During the Insular Cases (Bidwell & Balzac), Federal Courts wrongly interpreted the Constitution & determined: PR is an “un-incorporated” US Territory–“more foreign than domestic-belongs to, but, is not part of the US”… (Words not found in our Constitution; not applied before to other Territories becoming States). This allows Congress to wield veiled un-just powers that discriminate (differentiate) in applying the US Constitution (as sustained in Harris vs Rosario)–till today! The disguised discriminatory vestige of the “Insular Cases” puts in contention that statutory US Citizens have full-equal protection under just laws; acquired rights…! This is un-acceptable in our Democracy; un-American! Let’s spotlight the truth!

Some Congressmen and Federal Judges (of the time- racist era), as they coined the above unfair Insular Terms made outrageous biased comments, such as: “Because of different origin and language… Puerto Ricans were inferior… mestizos; could not govern themselves”.

The Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner which represents about 4 million US Citizens (proportionally equal to six US Representatives and two US Senators)–has no vote in Congress! This isn’t just representation!

Many US Judges to include, Former Chief Judge Torruella (US 1st Circuit Court of Appeals) in his Book-has critiqued the judicial system and compares the “Insular Cases” (1901-1922), that defined the status of Puerto Rico to Plessy v. Ferguson (separate but equal doctrine to justify racial segregation) that was overturned with Brown v Board of Education (1954)– to Puerto Rico’s case of un-democratic inequality (2d Class US Citizenship).

Besides, statutory US Citizenship is conferred by a Law that can be revoked by Congress… It isn’t fully protected by the US Constitution’s 14th amendment (states that you are a US Citizen if you are born in a State or Naturalized– most likely applies to Individuals, not to a “differentiated” Ethnic Group classified unjustly by Congress-born on “foreign” territorial land)…

President W. Bush Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status Report–after years of analysis by the US Justice Department (page 9/not refuted by any other Reports), states: “If P.R. were to become independent… those who had U.S. Citizenship only by statute would cease to be citizens of the United States, unless a different rule were prescribed by legislation or treaty.”

Former US Attorney General and Under Secretary of the United Nations Thornburgh states: The ruling of the Supreme Court in Rogers v. Bellei 401 U.S. 815 (1970), regarding the nature of statutory citizenship is consistent with the conclusion that even a statutory extension of the Fourteenth Amendment to Puerto Rico could not limit the discretion of Congress to amend or repeal that statutory extension; would not prevent Congress from changing laws defining the citizenship of people born in Puerto Rico.

I say: if there is a conflict between the original Territorial Clause and the civil rights Constitutional amendments —equal US Citizenship should triumph! We should not have a discriminatory “2d Class US Citizenship”!

Our Constitution only recognizes two forms of government under the sovereignty of the US: one for States another for Territories. Thus, PR’s true status is that of a federally beleaguered US Territory.

But, some try to hide/distort the truth or use speculation to fool people…; others don’t know the facts or don’t care– provide comfort to people that act to keep an un-equal, un-democratic, and un-dignified 2d Class US Citizenship/PR territorial status! They cover up the truth when referring to PR’s Status as “Commonwealth” (in Spanish-ELA-Free Associated State- a contradiction). These terms are political esoteric names (not found in the US Constitution) used to camouflage a local regulated government–allowed some broad powers, but, still under the un-democratic territorial control/will of Congress.

Many in PR are forced to pay Federal taxes (without just representation), such as: Social Security, Medicare, Payroll, and other indirect/invisible taxes, but, US Citizens there don’t get full benefits…

PR’s economic growth is linked to the US economy, but, hamstrung by many imposed US regulations which kill free market competition… As an island possession of the US, they must use American Ships (which are more costly/un-competitive; raises immensely the cost of products and services-including electricity)… This along with the territorial status (which fuels un-certainty) and other factors– adversely affects PR’s economy; negates a “Free Market” with competition, and incentives for capital investment…; stifles economic growth, creation of good jobs…

Where is the Patriotic outcry against an aged wrong? Where are the MEDIA, President Obama/Justice Department, Congress, Federal Courts, American Patriots… on ending this institutional discrimination quagmire? We must follow the illuminating examples of President Lincoln, Dr. King, and other Patriots (of true grit)! Enough with unfair excuses, distortions, political spins, speculations… that fool and subjugate loyal US Citizens! Today, American Citizens (with equal rights, responsibilities, and benefits) should be the focus of our “We the People” representative Democracy!

The Federal Government’s actions (for over 116 years) — oppress; discriminate; negate our constitutional civil rights amendments; conflicts with the spirit of our democracy! An un-democratic Territorial Status has a negative impact on the US (morally/otherwise); PR’s economy, quality of life… Plus, it causes an exodus of millions (in search of the American Dream) to the Mainland.

Puerto Ricans feel they are a part of the US (with the majority living in the States). They cherish their US Citizenship; have contributed immensely to the settlement and forming of the US-since 1513 (107 years before the Pilgrims landed) to include fighting for our liberties in the War of Independence (1776) under General Washington and other Wars until today, and since 1898 fighting for our democracy (WW-I, WW-II, Korea, and all other Conflicts) under the US Flag!

Please, respect Puerto Rico’s local plebiscite Vote Results (Nov. 2012): end Territorial Status: 54% (958,915); Statehood: 61+% (824,195); Independence 5% (74,812) … (Total Voted: 78%)

The Federal Government has been benevolent in many ways, but, still it doesn’t treat Puerto Rico equally or fairly. US Citizens, from Puerto Rico, don’t have full civil rights; don’t receive all benefits; are under the will of Congress with no just representation or federal voting rights. It’s the duty of the Federal Government to take action; Congress must:
• Enact HR-2000 (“Puerto Rico Status Resolution Act”- yes or no vote on Statehood) with companion bill S. 2020; ratify the democratic majority decision!
• If not, conduct a self-determined PR Plebiscite with constitutionally non-territorial defined Options (that don’t fool people)…, but, achieve political equality. The only constitutional non-territorial options are: Statehood or Independence (Total or with Pact)
Forms of Independence include: Free Association, ELA Soberano…– means: Separate Sovereignty under PR Citizenship and PR Constitution; loss of US Citizenship, benefits, & protection of US Constitution–with no opportunity for permanent US Citizenship or Statehood… — but, with an association Pact-that can contain certain benefits, and arrangements. However, a “Pact” surrenders certain PR sovereign rights until it is terminated by either side… Thus, this is “back door Independence” (“Independencia por la cocina”)!

*Remember: A Nation can’t be sovereign or enact a pact when under the loyalty, Citizenship, & Constitution of another Nation…
*Enhanced ELA is not constitutionally viable because the US Territorial Clause is explicit on what are the despotic powers of Congress over a US Territory.
* Let all statutory US Citizens (born in PR) Vote no matter their US residency because the outcome affects them (could lose a statutory US Citizenship)—thus, have legal standing.

We must guard against “the tyranny of a majority”! It’s the patriotic obligation of the Federal Government to take action/educate; end institutional discrimination; overturn the Insular Cases…—enact HR-2000/S.2020 (Statehood yes or no vote) or a Plebiscite with defined Non-Territorial options (Statehood or Independence)– lead the effort to protect individual civil rights; ensure equality in a representative democracy for ALL! Patriots of true grit-shall overcome!
XXX
(Dennis O. Freytes: US Army Ret.-Former Commander of: Infantry, Special Forces, Airborne…Units; Professor PMS/ROTC Dept. Director University PR; Trustee Valencia College; VP NAUS SE Region; Community Servant)
**NOTES: The Federal Government has been benevolent in many ways, but, still it doesn’t treat Puerto Rico equally or fairly. US Citizens, from Puerto Rico, have defended the USA; integrated with common US values, US principles, support US Constitution, and in other ways–but, are treated unequal (have 2d Class US Citizenship)!

Congress has passed many good Laws to incorporate PR, like: allowing Puerto Rico to elect its own Governor (1948), US Law 600-Federal Relations Act (1950) that allows Puerto Rico its local Constitution (1952-with a local form of Republican government but, still under the will of Congress). There are a number of Laws and Federal Programs that treat Puerto Rico almost like a State of the Union. Plus, the designation of a Federal Court District (under Article III of the US Constitution); the presence of the principle Federal Agencies on the Island; and the integration of Puerto Rico’s culture to the Macro USA National Western Culture… have all closed the breach of Puerto Rico of the 1898 to the now USA Puerto Rico that sacrifices, serves, defends and spills blood for the USA—deserves to be a full Partner with the US.

But, the Federal Government has the power to change any Laws pertaining, and discriminate (differentiate) in applying the US Constitution to Puerto Rico which flies in the face of a just representative democracy!
MAKE A DIFFERENCE: CONTACT US PRESIDENT, CONGRESS & MEDIA NOW!
Act to ensure equal application of the US Constitution; US Citizenship for ALL-under our US Flag!
***PR Internal Plebiscite Results (Nov. 2012): End current Territorial Status (ELA): 54%;
Statehood: 62%; Independence: 5%—-RESPECT THIS DEMOCRATIC VOTE!
PETITION: “We petition our US Government to uphold the essence of our representative democracy: consent of the governed, equal application of the US Constitution, & equal individual civil rights for all by ending the federally un-democratic trite territorial status of Puerto Rico; a 2d Class US Citizenship where millions of born US Citizens & US Veterans can’t vote in Federal elections nor have just representation in Congress that determines their destiny nor a permanent US Citizenship– through a self-determined sanctioned Plebiscite with defined constitutional non-territorial options: Statehood or Independence; ensure equal US Citizenship for ALL under our noble USA Flag!
*WEB SITES: White House Page: WE the People- URL: http://wh.gov/dTUb

ASK ELECTED OFFICIALS; JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: What actions will you take to ensure equal protected individual civil rights for all; equal application of the US Constitution; end Puerto Rico’s trite un-democratic and federally oppressive US Territorial Status; advance our representative democracy?
TWEET: *Advance our democracy with protected Civil rights for all; end unequal US Citizenship & Puerto Rico’s undemocratic Territorial Status!
CONTACT–Take Action for the good of all!
*US Senators- http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm;
*US Congressmen: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
*US President: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact
*White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs (President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status):
http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/iga/puerto-rico
*Mail: President’s Task Force Puerto Rico Status, Attn: Mr. David Agnew, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20500.

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