US Attorney General: Status Plan Reflects “President’s commitment” and His Own

U.S Attorney General Eric Holder yesterday told the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee that funds the Justice Department the department’s budget legislation to provide for a plebiscite to finally determine the political status aspirations of the citizens of Puerto Rico “reflects” the President’s “commitment to work with Congress to provide a mechanism for the people of Puerto Rico to decide their own fate.”

“That is our view,” he added, providing his own endorsement for the proposal before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations.

Under the measure, $2.5 million would be appropriated to the Justice Department to give to the Puerto Rico Elections Commission for a plebiscite on options to “resolve” the “future” status of the territory.  The monies would be used for voter education and a public vote on the issue if the attorney general finds the education materials and plebiscite options do not conflict with the Constitution, laws, and policies of the United States.

The plebiscite could be on one or more options among statehood, independence, and nationhood in a free (non-binding) association with the U.S., which would resolve the issue of the territory’s ultimate status, as well as, possibly, the current territory status, which could not.

The Justice Department review as to consistency with Constitution and Federal laws and policies is required because Puerto Rico’s “commonwealth” party has proposed governing arrangements that Federal officials have said conflict with the Constitution and Federal laws and policies and the party continues to do so.

Even before Holder’s appearance, Justice Department officials had begun to brief Subcommittee members on the appropriation.

Holder’s explanation was made in response to statements by Subcommittee member Jose Serrano (D-NY), the most senior member of Congress of Puerto Rican origin and a champion of democracy for the territory.

Serrano noted that the budget measure “is an important response to a ballot question that was on the ballot last November in Puerto Rico, whether the people of Puerto Rico wanted to remain in their current status or to change to something different” and that the “Puerto Rican people on that day clearly voted for change.”

In the November plebiscite under local law, 54% cast ballots against the current territory status and more than 61% of the vote was for statehood. But the governor and legislature majority narrowly elected at the same time disputes the plebiscite.

The White House recognized that this would stall Puerto Rico’s statehood petition in Congress.  So, it decided to put the question of the territory’s future status to voters again under Federal auspices so that the results could not be disputed by key Puerto Rico elected officials.

Serrano added that the “funding is the logical next step” in the process and that, “after 115 years, is it time to resolve the political status of Puerto Rico.”

Representing a district with a large percentage of people of Puerto Rican origin, Serrano also pointed out that the “funding is an important step to me and to millions of Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico and in the 50 States in defining a process that will allow Puerto Rico to truly determine the constitutional relationship that it wants to have with the United States.”

2 Comments

Dennis O. Freytes

President’s Obama Proposal on Puerto Rico Status
US President Obama’s “PR Political Status Funding Proposal” that provides Puerto Rico’s Elections’ Commission (CEE) $2.5 million for a local Plebiscite has some political distortions and problems.

The Proposal is a step in the right direction, but, it:
1. Doesn’t call Puerto Rico (PR) by its US Constitutional name: US Territory; but, uses political terms not found in the US Constitution, like: “Commonwealth” or ELA-“Free Associated State”–which aren’t PR’s true Status. But, are esoteric distorted words that Politicians made up for PR’s local Government- that is under the will of Congress; fools People as to the true un-democratic Federal Status of PR.
2. It maintains the un-democratic US Territory Option with a repressive statutory 2d Class US Citizenship (no vote/ just representation) that Puerto Ricans rejected; and conflicts with equal civil rights; runs against the grain and Soul of our representative Democracy.
3. Leaves action in the hands of the local PR Parties/ CEE, when, it’s the responsibility of the Federal Government (Congress) to define truthful US Constitutional Options; ensure protected individual civil rights; conduct a sanctioned Plebiscite through the CEE.

Per US Constitution–PR can only be: a State or Territory under the sovereignty of the US. Besides, the only two Non-Territorial Statuses are: Statehood or Independence, period.

In the final analysis, the duty of the Federal Government (Congress) is to: end political subjugation through a non-territorial self-determined Plebiscite with constitutionally defined Options that don’t distort the truth or fool People; let all that have “standing” Vote (born in PR with nonpermanent US Citizenship). Honest PR Plebiscite option definitions are:
1. Statehood allows: US Constitution; permanent US Citizenship-all rights, responsibilities & benefits; State Sovereignty and Identity…
2. Independence allows: PR Sovereignty; PR Constitution; PR Citizenship; ends protection and full benefits of US Constitution…
• Associate Independence (Free Association/ ELA Soberana)…is a form of Independence with Pact. It should be carefully explained (…with PR Citizenship, PR Constitution…)
• Remember: A Nation can’t be sovereign or enact a pact when under the loyalty, Citizenship & Constitution of another Nation.
• A Pact can contain certain benefits, but, it comes with responsibilities; ceding of certain sovereign rights until the Pact is terminated by either side; with no opportunity for Statehood/ permanent US Citizenship.
*The US Territory Option shouldn’t be in play because it’s undemocratic; has been rejected!

The complex US Territory of Puerto Rico’s equal rights quandary, that affects millions, is not only about a “Group” Vote on the status question, but, more important, it’s about protecting individual civil rights in our representative democracy-where the US Citizen should be the epicenter of our Republic, not the US Government’s un-democratic territorial control of the land!

Puerto Rico has been the oldest US Territory in history (115+ years)! It’s time– to stop political rhetoric, excuses, misinformation, and spins that fool People. Patriots must end Political oppression and closet bigotry; move on to advance our American Democracy; ensure equal application of the US Constitution/ US Citizenship no matter where you reside under our American Flag!
XXX
(Dennis O. Freytes: American Veteran; Former Valencia College Trustee; Professor PMS/Dept. Director University of Puerto Rico)

Dennis O. Freytes

TO: US Congress; US President Obama; US Supreme Court; American Patriots; MEDIA
RE: End 2 Class US Citizenship/ Inequality; Puerto Rico’s Un-Democratic Territorial Status!

The complex US Territory of Puerto Rico’s equal rights quandary, that affects millions, is not only about a “Group” Vote on the status question, but, more important, it’s about protecting individual civil rights in our representative democracy-where the US Citizen should be the epicenter of our Republic, not the US Government’s un-democratic territorial control of the land & People… Join American Patriots to do right; help get the Federal Government to advance our American Democracy; end 2d Class US Citizenship.

Our factual history states: in 1898, the U.S invaded Puerto Rico (PR), as part of the Spanish American War, and forcefully took it as a spoil of combat…made it a US Territory (Colony) that falls under the absolute un-democratic control of the Federal Government (per the *U.S. Constitution Article 4, trite Territorial Clause that states: “The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory…or property belonging to the U.S.”)

In 1917, Congress erred in imposing on PR- a statutory “2d Class US Citizenship” (without all rights responsibilities, & benefits) that doesn’t permit loyal US Citizens (including fighting US Veterans) to vote in Federal elections nor have just representation in the Congress that determines their destiny nor permanent US Citizenship, under our USA Flag–actions that conflicts with the spirit of our democracy; constitutional amendments!

During 1901-1922, the “Insular Cases” were decided by Federal Courts- that wrongly interpreted the US Constitution in shaping PR’s un-democratic political relationship and 2d Class US Citizenship; stated Balzac– the US Constitution did not apply equally to all US Citizens in the un-incorporated Territory… (“…because of different origin and language …”; couldn’t govern themselves…– which is bigotry…).

This iconic American Hispanic Civil Rights issue that strikes at the Soul of our Democracy-“consent of the governed”– has not received the National attention it merits! But, now we must be fair; soar above political rhetoric, demagoguery, lies, misinformation, excuses…; educate the gullible and all on the truth; advance our democracy; ensure equality; break Puerto Rico’s trite Territorial un-democratic shackles.

President Obama said: “We commit to moving the resolution of the status issue forward with the goal of resolving it expeditiously.” Well, now it’s time for bold leadership! We must ensure the Equality Dream of our beloved Dr. Martin Luther King comes true; apply the US Constitution equally-protect all US Citizen’s individual civil rights no matter where they reside under our gran Flag!

A representative Government should serve the People, not be their Master; unfairly subjugate them with no right to just representation in Congress. There is no true democracy without equal representation; protected individual civil rights. We must end political oppression with truth & fairness (no political rhetoric, distortion or spin)! Even if one US Citizen can’t Vote…it is one too many!

Per US Constitution–PR can only be: a State or Territory under the sovereignty of the US. Besides, the only two Non-Territorial Statuses are: Statehood or Independence, period. We need to stop using, when referring to PR’s Status: “Commonwealth” or as translated in Spanish-ELA (Free Associated State) because these are terms not found in the US Constitution that distort the truth and fool People. They are esoteric political names for a local government allowed under the will of Congress.

PR held an internal plebiscite (Nov. 2012). About 78%+ voted–resulting: 54% (958,915) want to end the current Territorial Status (ELA-Free Associated State)…; 61+% (824,195) voted for Statehood; and only 5.55% (74,812) for total Independence. (ELA Soberano-which wasn’t properly defined- got 33%).

However, the political cover-up, misinformation, and misinterpretation of the results have begun; some are trying to discredit a democratic Plebiscite where everyone had the opportunity and duty to vote; the results are clear (even if some Voters left some questions in blank… The Governor got elected with 47%): a Non-Territorial Status through Statehood won! The democratic vote must be respected!

After 115 years of non-action, the Federal Government must not obfuscate nor provide discriminatory excuses, but, educate, and promptly intervene to protect all individual civil rights; end an un-democratic Federal Territorial Status that goes against the grain of our American democracy; start the transition process (which should not take more than 3-5 years) to admit Puerto Rico as the 51st State of our Union or conduct a sanction Federal Plebiscite between only Non-Territorial Options (Statehood or Independence.)

In the final analysis, the duty of the Federal Government (Congress) is to: end political subjugation through a non-territorial self-determined Plebiscite with constitutionally defined Options that don’t distort the truth or fool People; let all that have “standing” Vote (born in PR with nonpermanent US Citizenship). Honest PR Plebiscite option definitions are:
3. Statehood allows: US Constitution; permanent US Citizenship-all rights, responsibilities & benefits; State Sovereignty and Identity…
4. Independence allows: PR Sovereignty; PR Constitution; PR Citizenship; ends protection and full benefits of US Constitution…
• Associate Independence (Free Association/ ELA Soberana)…is a form of Independence with Pact. It should be carefully explained (…with PR Citizenship, PR Constitution…)
• Remember: A Nation can’t be sovereign or enact a pact when under the loyalty, Citizenship & Constitution of another Nation.
• A Pact can contain certain benefits, but, it comes with responsibilities; ceding of certain sovereign rights until the Pact is terminated by either side; with no opportunity for Statehood/ permanent US Citizenship.
*The undemocratic US Territory Option should not be in play because it contains a repressive statutory 2d Class US Citizenship (no vote/just representation) that Puerto Ricans rejected; and conflicts with equal civil rights amendments of the US Constitution; runs against the heart of our representative democracy…But, if it is to be an option, use a constitutional definition not Commonwealth or ELA:
3. US Territory: Limited un-permanent US Citizenship under the will of Congress (no right to vote in Federal Elections; have just Representation in Congress); un-equal application of the US Constitution; no State Sovereignty…, but, Congress will continue allowing a local Government under the Territorial Clause that states…

Besides, the Federal Government/Justice Department should move to overturn the US Supreme Court Balzac decision (1922) which is to US Citizens in Puerto Rico what Plessy v. Ferguson (“separate but equal” doctrine) was to African Americans before Brown v. Board of Education. Let’s not be incongruent-the US Constitution should equally apply to all US Citizens residing in PR; under our grand USA Flag! If not, there is discrimination; voter segregation…– no Federal consent of the governed!

We must overcome the un-fair oppressive tactics of the misinformed, closet bigots… hidden agendas; not discriminate or provide poor age old excuses (consensus, language…) to keep PR an un-democratic US Territory. We are dealing with born US Citizens… More Spanish is spoken in the States than in Puerto Rico or Spain! (US is the 2d largest Spanish Nation in the World.)

Puerto Ricans are born US Citizens-the 2d largest American Hispanic segment of our US population- about 9 million strong with most residing in the States (5m) & 4m in PR– whose Ancestors (roots/ heritage) led to the discovery of Florida; brought advance civilization (of the times), Christianity, Horses, Cattle, Pigs… to the settlement of the USA– 107 years before the Pilgrims landed… Plus, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and Cubans fought together in the US War of Independence with General George Washington.

Puerto Rico (with more population than 24 States) is the oldest Territory in US History; has bravely defended the US Flag (since 1898) to include the US 65th Infantry Regiment (Borinqueneers) that suffered segregation, discrimination, and un-equal US Citizenship, yet, bravely fought for all of us. Its Colors were passed to the PR National Guard which is serving, along with other Patriots from PR, in the Global War on Terrorism. They loyally sacrifice; fight… shed blood in defending the US–for the good of all.

NOTE: General of the Armies (5 Stars) Douglas MacArthur once said: “…the Puerto Ricans…of the gallant 65th Infantry on the battlefields of Korea by valor, determination and a resolute will to victory give daily testament to their invincible loyalty to the United States…They write a brilliant record of achievement in battle and I am proud indeed to have them in this command. I wish that we might have many more like them!”

PR is a valuable US Territory, with an educated work force, that serves, among other things, as a unique open market that fuels about one million American jobs; buys $20.4 billion in US Goods & Services; is the US world’s eighth trading partner and 4th largest purchaser of goods, an important defense outpost, a big pool for military personnel…; buys more products from the U.S. mainland than many larger countries such as Italy, Russia or China; is a pharmaceutical, Microsoft Computer Programs…center of Excellence!

Our Nation is formed by the union of States (focused on Equality, Justice, Liberty…for all)-with own State sovereignty, identity, uniqueness, diversity… US Citizens in PR, like other States, are a very complex group of people that are legally born US Citizens- part of our US multi-ethnic and beautiful “Tapestry” of vibrant colors that is united and bonded together by common values and purpose for the good of all. They are very proud of their roots, linage, and heritage as part of the shared macro Western culture. Plus, as most enlighten US Citizens, they believe in: God, love, truth, fairness, justice…; are hard workers, family oriented; community servants…– US values engrained!

Abraham Lincoln & Martin Luther King (which stood for a government of the People and equality) would be appalled at this wrongful status of affairs! US President Regan said: it was an “un-natural” state (favored statehood); is among other US Presidents, Gov. Jeb Bush, Rep. Serrano, Attorney General Thornburg…and Others that favor ending a 2d Class US Citizenship; un-democratic Territorial Status.

The original Territorial Clause was written in another era…when the founding Fathers (with no Women, Blacks, or Hispanics participation; some had slaves…) were more focused on uniting sovereign States…forming a representative democracy under a Federal Government…, organizing the boundaries of the US… not on an equal US Citizenship. But, our democracy has evolved with its amendments! Today, US Citizenship equality (per the US Constitution’s Amendments/Bill of Rights) is more important.

We now own our Constitution; not our fore Fathers! If there are constitutional contradictions–conflict between the old un-democratic Territorial clause (land domain laws) and the Bill of Rights and other amendments, the Federal Courts should favor individual civil rights…; ensure the US Citizen is the focus of our democracy…Plus, the 14th Amendment states that you are a US Citizen if you are born in a State or Naturalized… The only Status that can guarantee an equal and permanent US Citizenship is Statehood.

My Father (Celio Freytes Menendez) and Mother (Gloria E. Gonzalez Marrero) asked me to take on this righteous quest that affects millions of 2d Class US Citizens– that want to have equal civil rights as other Citizens do. My Father has the Combat Infantryman’s Badge-with star (World War II & Korea); fought with the Hispanic segregated US 65th Infantry (The Borinqueneers). My Mother was a Teacher and Social Worker. They deserve better treatment! On their behalf, and millions of other patriotic loyal US Citizens— join me in this just cause!

“Canto claro-como Gallo de Manati”: Individual Civil Rights are totemic to our democracy; must be protected against “Federal political oppression” or like former US Patriots said, the “tyranny of a majority”! Territories are undemocratic dinosaurs of our trite colonial past! Congress with truth, fairness, & justice must promptly do right: ensure equal US Citizenship; admit the US Territory of Puerto Rico as the 51st State of the Union or give them Independence!

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