At one point during last week’s House subcommittee hearing on Puerto Rico’s political status, Chairman Don Young asked where the witnesses thought Puerto Rico would be in 20 years if there were no change in the island’s status as a U.S. territory.
Rubén Berríos, former Senator in the Puerto Rican Senate and President of the Puerto Rico Independence Party (PIP), foresaw increasing dependence of Puerto Rico on the Federal government. Statehood, he said, is attractive for the wrong reasons, and Puerto Rico would become “a ghetto state.”
“If Congress takes no action and the colonialist PDP prevails in Puerto Rico’s 2016 elections,” he said in his statement, “the undemocratic bankrupt territory of extreme dependency will continue to breed support for statehood.”
Rep. Pedro Pierluisi predicted that more and more Puerto Ricans would move to the States, continuing a trend that has been increasing in momentum for a decade or more. Since the people of Puerto Rico are citizens of the United States, a brief plane ride is all it takes to achieve full citizenship with equal rights in the U.S.
“Quality of life is deteriorating very fast,” he said, “I see a bright future for Puerto Rico because of the potential, the capacity of our people, but we cannot keep losing them. The current status is not providing them with the necessary quality of life… We’re losing them.”
César A. Miranda Rodríguez, Attorney General of Puerto Rico, speaking on behalf of the Governor of Puerto Rico, said, “[w]e see a brighter future for Puerto Rico. We are facing a very difficult situation, in fact a crisis,” he said, “If we reorganize our debt… certainly Puerto Rico can come across and enter into a state of prosperity.”
Chairman Young responded with his own conclusion by stating, “if you’re not going to be a state, become an independent nation, but the status quo is not working.” He added that “you can’t have a group of people that has American status and not have the rights that all other Americans have… this is a black eye on American soil.”