The Democratic Party of Puerto Rico sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asking her to support statehood for Puerto Rico for the same reasons she supports statehood for Washington, D.C.
“We are grateful for your support,” the letter begins, citing the Speaker’s support for equal treatment of Puerto Rico under Medicaid and other federal programs. “But the truth remains, as long as Puerto Rico continues to be a territory and the fundamental issue of statehood is not addressed by Congress, U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico will always be treated differently when invoking their rights as equal citizens under the law.”
The letter goes on to detail the basic inequality Puerto Rico experiences as a territory of the United States. Residents of Puerto Rico, even though they are U.S. citizens, cannot vote in presidential elections and do not have Senators or voting members of he House of Representatives.
“The fact is that the president and Congress approve laws and establish policies that affect the daily lives of the island residents without the consent of the governed.”
The writers remind Speaker Pelosi of the exemplary military service of citizens from Puerto Rico, recalling the death of Elis Barreto-Ortiz, one of hundreds of Puerto Rican soldiers who have given their lives for the United States without equal representation in American Democracy.
The letter continues with a reminder of fundamentals. “The 2016 Democratic Party platform states, ‘Puerto Rico should be able to vote for the people who make their laws, just as they should be treated equally’ and the belief that they ‘should determine their ultimate political status from permanent options that do not conflict with the Constitution, laws, and policies of the United States.’ The only way Puerto Rico can achieve equal treatment under U.S.laws and voting rights is by becoming a state.”
Reminder of statehood votes
The letter goes on to cite the pro-statehood votes of 2012 and 2017. The writers point out that the Democratic National Committee voted to support statehood for Puerto Rico in 2017. They remind Pelosi of the devastation of Hurricane Maria and the sluggish federal response. They also refer to the Gallup poll showing that 66% of Americans on the mainland support statehood for Puerto Rico.
“The experience of the past two years in relation to the federal response is further evidence of the neglect and discrimination allowed under our current undemocratic status,” the letter goes on.”For all these reasons and many more, the leadership of the Democratic Party of Puerto Rico supports the admission of Puerto Rico into the Union.”
The letter concludes with a call for Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic leadership in Washington to do what is right, noting that “the hopes and aspirations for equality of the people of Puerto Rico rest in the leadership and members of the Democratic Party in the United States Congress.”
The letter is signed by Charles Rodriguez, Johanne Velez, Maria “Mayita” Melendez, and Luis Davila-Permas.