Congressional Controversy Over New Self Determination Bill

U.S. Representatives Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) introduced federal legislation last week calling for a new convention in Puerto Rico at which delegates would do away with the Island’s current status as a U.S. territory and recommend a new political status for Puerto  Rico.

Delegates would be elected by Puerto Rican voters in an election conducted according to terms yet to be determined by the Puerto Rican legislature.

The proposal would also establish a Congressional Bilateral Negotiating Commission to provide advice to convention delegates. This new Commission would have the authority to develop recommendations for the delegates regarding the various self-determination options on constitutional issues and policies related to areas including taxes, U.S. citizenship and culture.

The new bill recognizes that the Puerto Rico legislature already has the ‘inherent authority” to call for a status convention.

Congress responds

The response from Rep. Velazquez’s congressional colleagues was mixed. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) joined her fellow New Yorker in supporting the bill. Other members of Congress of Puerto Rican descent and/or who represent large Puerto Rican communities were more critical.

The harshest criticism came from Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez Colon, who complained, “How is it possible that these congresswomen who do not live the problems that those of us in the colony experience day by day, who enjoy all the privileges of a first-rate American citizenship, want to impose on us a totally undemocratic process where a tiny minority of people decide over the direct vote of the majority of Puerto Ricans?”

“This is not only unacceptable to the people I represent but highly reprehensible,” she concluded.

Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY), a native Puerto Rican and longtime supporter of decolonization for Puerto Rico tweeted, “I believe that all Puerto Ricans should help determine the future of the island — not just a few. Changing Puerto Rico’s status (a career goal of mine) is too important to be left behind closed doors — all Puerto Ricans should have a say.”

Serrano, who will retire at the end of the current congressional session, added further, “I have always supported an end to the colonial commonwealth status. The horrific inequities and harms of the past few years have made clear why Puerto Rico needs either statehood or independence. But that choice shouldn’t be limited to a club of elites,” he said referring to the closed convention.

Serrano’s probable successor, Ritchie Torres, also spoke out on social media against the bill. He responded to Serrano’s tweets, saying, “Wise words from a public servant of incomparable integrity. I am honored to continue your tradition of advocating for true self-determination through direct elections. All Puerto Ricans, not simply party insiders, should have a voice and a vote!”

Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) joined the conversation with two tweets: “The people of Puerto Rico, thru their elected representatives, have chosen to hold a “yes-or-no” referendum on statehood in Nov.—the fairest & simplest way to proceed. If voters confirm they want statehood, I’ll work with both parties to pass a bill making the territory a state,” she wrote. She continued, “Statehood is the only status option that will give the American citizens who live in Puerto Rico true democracy and equality, which is what they deserve and have earned.”

Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL) echoed his colleagues, tweeting, “We have a plebiscite on the Island coming up this November. If the people of #PuertoRico choose statehood, then the next steps for Congress are pretty clear. We vote to admit them to the union. In such a scenario, there would be no need for this bill.”

One Comment

Dennis Freytes

*Puerto Rico Status Convention is Deceptive!*
The US REPs Velazquez and Ocasio proposal for a “Puerto Rico Status Convention” has some deception (is a “Pig with lipstick—Puerca de Juan Bobo”); fails constitutional muster with Options not in the US Constitution; will delay Fair Treatment-Equal Rights for US Territory of Puerto Rico (since 1898-with more US Citizens-American Veterans than 22 States); leaves to Elites a decision the People should directly make! The only Constitutional non-Territorial-Equality options are: Statehood or Independence (without or with a PACT-called “Free Association”).

The US Congress is not above the US Constitution to relinquish its powers (under the outdated–Federal undemocratic Territorial Clause: 1787 or discriminatory/racist Insular Cases: 1901-1925+); or let Puerto Ricans consider unconstitutional non-territorial Options, like the PPD (Partido Popular Democratico) “ELA-Soberana” (Sovereignty with US Citizenship and Benefits). Also, the PPD and some Others try to cover up that “Free Association” is “Independence” with a Pact; is not a STATUS… A Nation can’t be Independent with the Citizenship of another Nation! (Our US Constitution doesn’t allow it)! A PR Status Convention is a waste of time because it is Congress that determines Puerto Rico’s fate, per the US Constitution, not based on a made-up status…

Puerto Ricans (integrated born US Citizens-American Veterans)– cherish their US Citizenship; have voted in CERTIFIED Plebiscites (that Constitutionally count) for STATEHOOD (2012 & 2017); are against Independence (which only got 2-5% of the vote) in the last 6 Plebiscites; elected a Government for Equality through Statehood…; have made many valuable contributions to our USA, since 1513-when their Ancestors came to the now US—107 years before the Pilgrims; fought in the US Revolutionary War… until Today. Puerto Ricans sacrifice; shed sweat, blood, and tears for our noble US! Plus, Polls (Gallop…) show majority support for Statehood (both in the States and Territory).

Puerto Ricans want admission to our “UNION of STATES” with– permanent US Citizenship, Benefits and Responsibilities; State—Identity (Boricua traditions, customs, and heritage); Constitution, Flag, and Sovereignty (like other States have). In the US UNION– each State complements/strengthens the others; UNITE for the Good of All!

FIX: After 122+years of Federal discrimination–All should support Fair Treatment-Equal Rights for ALL “WE THE PEOPLE”; get the Federal Government to provide Puerto Ricans—
EQUALITY + PROGRESS = STATEHOOD with DIGNITY.
*NOTE: An Alternative: Congressional sanctioned Plebiscite between the only Constitutional non-Territorial Options: Statehood vs Independence (without or with a PACT); not keep providing Excuses that discriminate.

UNITED with Truth, Reason, Courage, and Civic Action for the Good of ALL!
XXX
Dennis O. Freytes (MPA; MHR; BBA)-Florida Veterans Hall of Fame; Community Servant Leader
XXX
*Velazquez, Ocasio; PPD- try to sell another “Pig with Lipstick”!*
Velazquez fails to mention her previous support for the PPD (“Partido Popular Democratico”) where they disguised Territory as “Commonwealth” or “ELA-Free Associated State” to fool People as to the true Constitutional Status! Besides, Ocasio has supported PR “Sovereignty” which deceitfully means “Independence” for Puerto Rico (por la cocina).

The only non-territorially Options, un our US Constitution are—STATEHOOD (keep US Citizenship/Benefits) or INDEPENDENCE (without or with a PACT—can be called Free Association; loss of US Citizenship/Benefits).

Today, the PPD is again trying to deceive People by its Candidates, for Governor and Resident Commissioner, opting for Puerto Rico “Soberano”/ “Sovereignty” but, without calling it “Independence”; want to keep US Citizenship with benefits… which it is unconstitutional; the Federal Government has rejected.

Velazquez, Ocasio, and the PPD want to sell another Pig with Lipstick (“Puerca de Juan Bobo”) to fellow US Citizens in the US Territory of Puerto Rico by wanting a PR Status Convention that will further delay Puerto Rican EQUALITY!

Puerto Ricans are integrated; cherish their US Citizenship; have voted against Independence 6 times (which never receives more than 2-5% of the Vote)! The best OPTION is for the Federal Government to provide Puerto Ricans:
EQUALITY + PROGRESS = STATEHOOD with DIGNITY!
XXX

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