The Democratic Party of Puerto Rico has released a “Resolution in support of the will of the People of Puerto Rico for statehood and to advocate for the admission of Puerto Rico as a State of the Union in Congress and in all proper forums.”
The resolution begins with a reminder of the negative consequences of territorial status for 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 U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico do not have full representation in their national government since they cannot vote for President of the United States while residing in the island. Nor do they elect Senators or Representatives to the U.S. Congress and only have a sole Resident Commissioner who cannot vote on the House floor.
WHEREAS Puerto Ricans have served proudly in the U.S. Armed Forces since 1917 with almost 200,000 veterans, nine recipients of the 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’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 the absence of firm foundations for sustained economic development within the island’s own society.
WHEREAS the continuation of territorial status allows unequal and discriminatory treatment of Puerto Rico, which in turn represents an extension of economic stagnation and instability.
It goes on to point out that President Biden, a Democrat, and the Democratic Party platform specifically support statehood for Puerto Rico:
WHEREAS the 2020 Democratic Party Platform states that the unequal treatment of Puerto Rico’s residents must end.
WHEREAS President-elect Joseph R. Biden has expressed that “statehood would be the most effective means of ensuring that residents of Puerto Rico are treated equally, with equal representation at the federal level”.
WHEREAS President-elect, Joseph R. Biden has expressed that “the people of Puerto Rico must decide, and the United States federal government must respect and act on that decision”.
The resolution also pointed out that full democratic representation of Puerto Rico in the United States political process is possible only with statehood.
The resolution then turns to the November 2020 plebiscite:
WHEREAS the people of Puerto Rico, through a valid form of self-determination had the opportunity to express their will regarding statehood for the islands—a simple question with a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer on November 3, 2020.
WHEREAS the plebiscite vote was carried in a free and fair manner, and the process had full participation from people and parties from across the political spectrum and was not boycotted by any political party or organization in Puerto Rico.
WHEREAS nearly 97% of the voters who cast a ballot for a gubernatorial candidate on November 3, 2020, regardless of party, also cast a ballot in the plebiscite held that same day.
WHEREAS the absolute majority of the voters in Puerto Rico voted ‘Yes’ to become a State of the Union, by 200,000 votes more than any local party or candidate received in the general election held on the same day.
Following the explanation of the decision, the resolution itself is this:
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, BY THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF PUERTO RICO:
Section 1. Support the will of the People of Puerto Rico for statehood and to advocate for the admission of Puerto Rico as a State of the Union in Congress and in all proper forums.
Section 2: This Resolution shall come into effect immediately after its adoption.
Puerto Rico’s Democratic Party is therefore committed to advocate for statehood, the choice of Puerto Rico voters.
It remains to be seen whether Democrats in Congress will honor the position of the Puerto Rican Democratic party, but Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) has taken a leading role in respecting the wishes of local Puerto Rican leaders. Last week, she tweeted, “A clear majority of Puerto Rico voters want the territory to be a state. It’s hard for me to understand those who live in a state and enjoy all the benefits of statehood, but oppose statehood for our fellow U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico.”