Jenniffer González, the new Resident Commissioner for Puerto Rico, is confident that the time is ripe for statehood for Puerto Rico, according to an interview with Caribbean Business. Gonzalez, along with incoming governor Ricardo Rosselló, intends to work aggressively for statehood for Puerto Rico. She believes that she will be able to work with Donald Trump and his cabinet.
Trump made a statement regarding Puerto Rico’s status earlier this year, saying, “There are 3.7 million American citizens living in Puerto Rico. As citizens, they should be entitled to determine for themselves their political status. I am firmly committed to the process where Puerto Ricans might resolve their status according to Constitutional and Congressional protocols. I believe the people of Puerto Rico deserve a process of status self-determination that gives them a fair and unambiguous choice on this matter. As president I will do my part to insure that Congress follows the Constitution. The will of the Puerto Rican people in any status referendum should be considered as Congress follows through on any desired change in status for Puerto Rico, including statehood.”
González pointed out that she has worked directly with Reince Priebus, Trump’s Chief of Staff, and is on good terms with the Republican Party, which will continue to control both the Senate and House of Representatives. “The national Republican Party has supported Puerto Rico’s decolonization via statehood, just like former presidents and presidential candidates,” she said. “The moment we live in is historic. The three U.S. government branches have refuted the fallacy of the bilateral pact and uncovered the island’s embarrassing colonial reality. The moment to act is now, and the Republican Party, of which I will be a majority member in the next Congress, is tracing a decolonizing route.”
Gonzalez is referencing several events from 2016 that delegitimized the concept of “enhanced commonwealth” as an agreement between Puerto Rico and the United States which could evolve into a special relationship. A number of statements from Congress made it clear that this idea is not viable. The Supreme Court also ruled in more than one case that Puerto Rico, as a territory of the United States, has no sovereignty. And President Obama signed PROMESA, a bill creating a fiscal oversight board for Puerto Rico. “Puerto Ricans are American citizens,” Obama said at that time, “just like folks in Maine or Oklahoma or New Mexico.”
González intends to move Puerto Rico from its current “embarrassing colonial reality” to statehood, and believes that the Republican unity among Puerto Rican and federal leadership will provide an opportunity to make that vision a reality. She described her idea of the role of Resident Commissioner as an ambassadorship.
“In this role as commercial and economic development ambassador,” Gonzalez said, “the Commissioner, official representative of the people of Puerto Rico in the federal capital according to federal laws, must serve as a link between industry, the local government, and the federal government.”
González intends to introduce a bill for Puerto Rico statehood as soon as she is sworn in in January.