In an article in The Hill, Carlos Mendez, the new Speaker of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives, promised that the November election ushered in “a new way of governing.” For Mendez, the newness focuses on listening to the will of the people of Puerto Rico.
“Out went the old ways, when the state government ignored the will of its people, expending the few resources it had in a massive lobbying effort against the results of the 2012 status referendum in which 54 percent of the voters rejected the current territorial status,” says Mendez. “It is important to mention that in the same electoral process, the voters selected statehood as a final political relation with the U.S.”
The 2012 ballot included two questions. First, voters were asked whether they wanted to continue as a territory of the United States. As Mendez reminded readers, 54% said no. There was a second question, asking the preferred relationship with the United States: independence with or without a Free Associated State agreement with the U.S., or statehood. 61% of voters chose statehood.
“We heard the strong voice of our electorate,” writes Mendez. “They gave us a mandate to make a different path. That ‘new way of governing’ starts with the admission of Puerto Rico as our Nation’s newest State. For this, we will work hard with the new administration of President-elect Donald Trump, as well as with the newly reelected Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).”
Mendez went on to mention the economy of Puerto Rico and the healthcare system as issues which also need to be addressed. “The ‘new way’ of governing starts with these issues but extended to all aspects of our society, that is why we need to become a facilitator to our people,” he concluded. “That’s the new way.”
Carlos J. “Johnny” Méndez Núñez has been a member of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives since 2004. He is a statehood supporter.