Committee on Natural Resources Report

Committee on Natural Resources Report, Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2007 (H.R. 900), Report No. 110-597, April 22, 2008, pp. 5,9 and 11.  Since the mid-1970’s. . . the Puerto Rican economy has stagnated and fallen well behind that of the nation as a whole.  In 1984, Hernandez Colon was re-elected as Governor on the pledge to focus his attention on the economy rather than status.  The [Natural Resources] Committee was asked to conduct hearings on the state of the Puerto Rican economy.  These hearings made it plain that economic solutions on the Island are largely tied to political solutions.  Policies that are appropriate for a prospective State may not be appropriate for a prospective independent nation, and vice-versa.  Accordingly, Puerto Rico’s lack of direction towards a permanent political status made it difficult to devise federal policies towards the Island that were sensible and informed.

Puerto Rican leaders do not want Puerto Rico to be a territory.

One hundred and ten years after Puerto Rico was acquired from Spain, its 3.9 million U.S. citizens still have an unsettled political status.  All peoples are entitled to a form of government that provides for equal voting representation in the making and implementation of their laws.  Puerto Rico’s current status, as a form of government subject to congressional authority under the Territory Clause, cannot be considered permanent, even if called “commonwealth.”  Although Congress has the authority to manage the self-determination process for Puerto Rico based on constitutionally-viable options, a Congressionally-sponsored vote in Puerto Rico has never taken place in more than a century under U.S. sovereignty.

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