Jeffrey L. Farrow

Jeffrey L. Farrow, Co-Chair of President Clinton’s Interagency Group on Puerto Rico, Testimony before the House Natural Resources Committee, October 4, 2000, p. 15-16.  Although it is called a commonwealth proposal, it is for a very different governing arrangement than the present one.  It is also different from the commonwealth in the only other status referendum in Puerto Rico in recent decades, and it differs from the commonwealth proposal that the leaders of the party made to you in 1997.

The proposal’s fundamental elements include Puerto Rico would be a sovereign nation but in a permanent union with the United States under a binding agreement; the United States would continue to grant citizenship and all assistance currently granted to residents; the Commonwealth would determine the application of other Federal laws and be able to enter into agreements with other countries.

The proposal includes a combination of aspects of different statuses.  Many people may find the combination attractive.  As stated, though, the combination is an incompatible mixture of benefits of national sovereignty and benefits of a U.S. status.  Many of the individual elements would be appropriate under one status or another, but others are impossible or unacceptable.

The positions we are expressing cannot be expected to change.  Most are based on requirements our government lacks the power to change or so basic that they are not really discretionary.  Our positions were developed by permanent officials of the agencies involved as well as by administration appointees.  They are generally consistent with bipartisan decisions of this committee and the Senate committee.

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