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Pierluisi Requests Guidance from the Obama Administration on Status Vote

Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico’s only representative in the U.S. Congress, wrote a letter to President Obama on January 6th, 2015, asking for either the President or Attorney General to provide guidance to the people of Puerto Rico as to whether a federally sponsored yes-or-no vote on statehood would satisfy the requirements of the January 2014 federal law calling for a new plebiscite in Puerto Rico .

Pierluisi began by noting that “[b]etween 2009 and 2014, much ground has been gained by those of us who have dedicated our lives to achieving equality for Puerto Rico through statehood, the only democratic and dignified status option that has broad public support on the island.”  Pierluisi then enumerated the gains the statehood movement has achieved:

  • The Federal government has made it clear that there are only two real options for Puerto Rico’s status, statehood and independent nationhood perhaps within a compact of free association which either nation could terminate. “Your administration and Congress have consistently rejected the status proposal called ‘enhanced commonwealth‘,” Pierluisi pointed out. Making it clear that there is no possibility of enhanced commonwealth allows Puerto Rico to make a choice between the real options rather than putting further investment into a potential status that will never become a reality.
  • HR 2499, the bill which allowed the historic plebiscite of 2012, was passed by the House of Representatives.
  • The 2011 Report from the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico confirmed that Puerto Rico is a territory, that enhanced commonwealth is not an option, and that Puerto Rico’s economic woes stem from the current territorial status.
  • President Obama made the first visit to Puerto Rico by a sitting president since President Kennedy’s 1961 visit, and pledged support for Puerto Rico’s self-determination.
  • The 2012 plebiscite found that 54% of the voters rejected the current territorial status and 61% chose statehood from the viable options.
  • The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing on Puerto Rico’s status in 2013 at which they publicly acknowledged that the people of Puerto Rico had rejected territory status, and that resolution of the island’s status was necessary.
  • $2.5 million was set aside for the first Federally-sponsored plebiscite, to be held in Puerto Rico to resolve at last the question of status.

Pierluisi went on to point out that it has been nearly a year since the $2.5 million in funding was approved. He acknowledged that much of the delay in putting the law into action has been caused by the local government of Puerto Rico, while also pointing out that the law does not dictate how the ballot should be structured.  He emphasized that the federal appropriation “does require the U.S. Department of Justice to ensure that any option of the ballot is combatable with the constitution, laws and public policy of the United States. ”

Pierluisi further explained that the law has “expose[d] and deepen[ed] divisions within the island’s Popular Democratic Party, which currently controls the governorship and both chambers of the Legislative Assembly.”  He predicted that if Party leader are able to agree on a status proposal, it would “almost certainly be rejected by the federal government as inconsistent with U.S. law or policy.”

In light of this delay, Pierluisi reminded President Obama of his own simple proposal: a yes or no vote on statehood. The other viable option, independent nationhood, has gained only single digit support in previous plebiscites. The “enhanced commonwealth” option has been soundly rejected by the U.S. government, which would have to agree to it for this option to be put in place. Pierluisi pointed out that opponents of statehood can vote against statehood with such a referendum, and that the results of this vote would be clear and unquestionable.

“I ask that you or the Attorney General formally respond to this letter,” he concluded, “advising the people of Puerto Rico whether your administration concurs with my conclusion that a ballot which poses the following question satisfies all the requirements of the federal law enacted in January 2014.”

The question Pierluisi references is this:

Shall Puerto Rico be admitted into the Union as a state?
Yes___         No___

Copies of the letter were also sent to Attorney General Eric Holder, Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch, Director of White House Intergovernmental Affairs and Co-Chair of the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status Jerry Abramson, and Acting Associate Attorney General and Co-Chair of the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status Stuart Delery,

Read the letter.

11 thoughts on “Pierluisi Requests Guidance from the Obama Administration on Status Vote”

  1. I find it ironic that it was Hector Ferrer (PPD colonialist) who originally proposed the statehood yes or no referendum back in 2010. Makes you wonder who’s side Pierluisi is really on. IMO the referendum should be statehood vs independence thus guaranteeing that statehood wins by a landslide.

    1. What the USA has to do is comply and act accordingly to its own Constitution and recognize, support and foster the People of Puerto Rico’s right to Liberty and Independence and stop paying attention to and financing those servile people who are NOT “Americans” but want to continue living off the “dollar tree”.

        Their right to LIBERTY? YES.
        Calling them (fake) “AMERICANS” living off the “DOLLAR TREE” confirms your bias.

  2. The “popular” (populist) Commonwealth party ‘s Ferrer wanted a statehood up/down vote ONLY because GOP Governor Fortuño of the statehood party was very unpopular.
    Fortuño was a victim of his own success in reducing the island deficit by reducing the island’s abnormally large labor force. Government is the largest employer!!
    The commonwealth party hires everybody in return for Commonwealth pArty votes.
    Everytime the stAtehood party reduces government, the PDP commonwealth pArty asks for “punishment/castigo “vote against statehood “to punish the governor”.

    This time around the commonwealth pArty is unpopular (pun intended) therefore THEY WILL NEVER ALLOW A PLEBISCITE MUCH LESS A STATEHOOD VOTE DURING THIS DISASTROUS COMMONWEALTH COLONIAL DISASTROUS ADMINISTRATION. That’s the real reason the “popular”commonwealth party shelved the plebiscite with the $2million.

  3. The simple truth is without proper representation in Congress Puerto Rico cannot move forward. WE can fight and die for our country but we cannot vote for the President of our country, sounds like a civil rights issue?

  4. The question “Shall Puerto Rico be admitted as a state” SHOULD NEVER BE ASKED WITHOUT BEING PART OF AN ADMISSIONS ACT!
    The Hawaii question (identical to Pierluisi’s text and the inspiration for Pierluisi’s text) was part of The Hawaii admissions act.
    A list of “conditions” were outlined followed by “Shall Hawaii be admitted as a state?” HR 2000 and S2020 were identical in this regard.

    The Populist Democrat Party /PDP aka “Commonwealth” party has for over 50 years convinced generations that statehood is impossible, that America is “racist” against a state a Puerto Rican state. Yet this same ” commonwealth party pays Charlie Black and Prime Policy millions to lobby in congress against statehood by disparaging PR and its residents as “welfare island”. In reality its the Populist Democrat party aka Commonwealth”commonwealth” party that seeks to perpetuate PR as a territory haven for corporate welfare, federal tax evasion, and playground for The super rich.

    Without AN ADMISSIONS ACT detailing conditions, The Commonwealth party will use their liberal media allies to run fearmongering commercials portraying statehood as a danger.
    Among The Commonwealth”commonwealth” party lies about statehood.
    1 Loss of Spanish and forced English only,despite The first and tenth amendments for freedom of speech on former and state rights ( including language) on The latter.
    2 “You will ALL lose your homes with statehood for you must pay property taxes with statehood. Puerto Ricans already pay property tax under “CRIM”. The Commonwealth party is DEMAGOGING AND SPREADING FEAR OF A NON EXISTENT FEDERAL PROPERTY TAX.

    With an ADMISSIONS ACT, residents who favor permanent union but traditionally vote ” commonwealth” will realize two things;
    1 this is The real deal.
    2 The “Commonwealth” party lies about statehood never coming or offered to PR.
    Without AN ADMISSIONS ACT detailing conditions set by Congress, The plebiscite is just another local nonbinding vote where The plebiscite”commonwealth” party will ask for “Punishment vote” against statehood.

  5. Stop hiding truths! Hawaii WAS NOT a NATION/ETHNIC COUNTRY when invaded and taken over by the USA. Like Alaska, Hawaii still had a native population that occupied 16% of its total population, and the rest were Japanese and American inhabitants plus a few people from other Islands/Nations. Puerto Rico has a People occupying it, People with our own culture, language, history, interests, personality, and national pride. The USA supports its presence and dominion of our Island/Country with food coupons. The US has NEVER, EVER, absorbed a NATION as a State. The “statehood’s” keep that theme alive so as to be able to “base and ideologically support” a political party; it’s their only weapon. That’s reality and the rest is bazoofia.

  6. Hawaii and Texas were most certainly sovereign nations at the time of their annexation to the US.

    Puerto Rico in comparison is NOT, and has NEVER been a nation. There is not such thing as Puerto Rican nationality. People living in Puerto Rico have always been nationals of a larger nation state: Spain or the United States. Puerto Ricans do not exist as a separate people, they are really just Americans who live on a Caribbean island. This entire “nation” concept was developed by Luis Munoz Marin to draw attention away from the growing statehood movements in Alaska and Hawaii in the 1950s. This is why he created the ICPR. “Puerto Ricans” do not exist in a nationality concept. Sure, they exist as a people the same as Texans or New Yorkers but they are not a nationality.

  7. BTW Luis, we would love to have you as a poster over at the Puerto Rico TOPIX forum. We have a great collection of statehooders and pro-federalist “commonwealth” supporters. I think you would be a welcome addition!

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