Democratic National Committee Approves Resolution for Admission of Puerto Rico as the 51st state

The Democratic National Committee unanimously approved a Resolution demanding both the admission of Puerto Rico as the 51st state and parity in disaster relief aid.

The resolution, approved on October 21st, directly ties Puerto Rico’s economic situation to its current political status. “[T]he current territorial status has substantially contributed to the demise of its economy and to the depression it has endured for the last decade,” the resolution notes.

The resolution also highlights the 2016 Democratic Party Platform declaration that “Puerto Ricans should be able to vote for the people who make their laws, just as they should be treated equally…”

In a forceful conclusion, the resolution states that “that the Democratic National Committee hereby calls upon the Democratic members of the 115th Congress to respond to the democratic will of the people of Puerto Rico by approving legislation on the admission of Puerto Rico as the 51st state of the United States of America.”

Read the full resolution below:

To call upon the Democratic members of the 115th Congress to respond to the democratic will of the people of Puerto Rico by approving legislation on the admission of Puerto Rico as the 51st state of the United States of America; and to respond to the damages and destruction in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria by approving legislation that includes a sufficient, equitable, and an appropriate relief aid package for the benefit of the people of Puerto Rico.

WHEREAS, Puerto Rico was colonized by Spain in 1493 and became a United States territory in 1898 by the Treaty of Paris which ended the Spanish-American War making Puerto Rico the oldest colony of the world and the longest held territory in the history of the United States.

WHEREAS, the persons born on the island are U.S. citizens by federal law since 1917 and carry an American passport.

WHEREAS, the insular government of the U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico exercises authority similar to that of the governments of the 50 states, is subject to federal law, and the island residents pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, but receive less funding in several federal programs when compared to other U.S. states.

WHEREAS, besides the abovementioned, U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico do not have full representation in their national government, since they cannot vote for the President while residing in the island. Nor do they elect Senators or Representatives to the U.S. Congress, having only a sole Resident Commissioner, who can only sponsor legislation and vote in committees of the House of Representatives to which he or she is assigned.

WHEREAS, Puerto Ricans have served proudly in the U.S. Armed Forces since 1917 with over 200,000 veterans, nine recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor, and over 25,000 active members in uniform protecting our freedoms and democracy; however, they cannot vote for their Commander-in-Chief.

WHEREAS, Puerto Rico is not treated equally with the states under many statutes, including key laws regarding health care, education, infrastructure and revenue measures that have a significant impact on the lives of its citizens.

WHEREAS, Puerto Rico’s treatment under the current territorial status has substantially contributed to the demise of its economy and to the depression it has endured for the last decade; it creates uncertainty, a short-run approach to economic policy, a practice and ideology of reliance on special treatment by the U.S., and continual failure to build up bases for economic development within the island’s own society.

WHEREAS, the longstanding policy of the United States has been that the American citizens of the territory have a right to self-determination to decide their future political status.

WHEREAS, Puerto Rico held a public election on the question of statehood in 2012, wherein 54% of voters rejected the current territorial status, and 61% of those voters chose statehood over the other options of independence, and nationhood in free association with the United States.

WHEREAS, the 2016 Democratic Party Platform declares that “Democrats believe that the people of Puerto Rico should determine their ultimate political status from permanent options that do not conflict with the Constitution, laws and policies of the United States” and that “Puerto Ricans should be able to vote for the people who make their laws, just as they should be treated equally…”.

WHEREAS, on June 11, 2017, Puerto Rico held a status plebiscite to reaffirm and ratify the people’s will previously expressed in the 2012 plebiscite in favor of statehood.

WHEREAS, the results of said plebiscite, as certified by the Puerto Rico Elections Commission, reflect a 97.18% support for statehood, 1.50% support for independence and free association; and 1.32% for the current territorial status.

WHEREAS, many prominent members of Congress, including members of the House leadership, have recognized the results of said plebiscite and have spoken in favor of Puerto Rico statehood.

WHEREAS, on September 20, 2017 Hurricane Maria, the most powerful, destructive and most devastating hurricane to ever hit Puerto Rico made its way across the island; taking lives, wreaking havoc, and leaving millions without power and running water.

WHEREAS, the response to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria by federal officials was unreasonably delayed, insufficient, inadequate, and inherently unequal when compared to the aid provided to other states affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma this same year.

WHEREAS, perpetuation of the territorial status allows for an unequal and discriminatory treatment, which in turn represents a continuation of economic stagnation and instability.

WHEREAS, it is morally and legally wrong for the United States of America, a world model for democratic principles, to maintain in the 21st Century over 3.4 million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico deprived of their full-fledged U.S. citizen rights when they have voted against remaining a territory and repeatedly through the ballot box endorsed becoming a state of the Union.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Democratic National Committee hereby calls upon the Democratic members of the 115th Congress to respond to the democratic will of the people of Puerto Rico by approving legislation on the admission of Puerto Rico as the 51st state of the United States of America.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Democratic National Committee hereby calls upon the Democratic members of the 115th Congress to respond to the damages and destruction in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria by approving legislation that includes a sufficient, equitable, and appropriate relief aid package for the benefit of the people of Puerto Rico.

Submitted by: Charles Rodríguez (PR), Johanne Vélez (PR), Hon. María “Mayita” Meléndez (PR), and Luis Dávila (PR)

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