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Puerto Rican Legislature Calls on Congress to Act

The Puerto Rican legislature has enacted a concurrent resolution calling upon Congress and President Obama to implement the November 6 plebiscite results and “end, once and for all, [Puerto Rico’s] current form of territorial status” and begin the process of making Puerto Rico a state.

The six-page resolution, passed on December 11th, describes the three status options included on the ballot and conveys the plebiscite results. Noting that “the results of the plebiscite could not be clearer,” the resolution text points out that the roughly 78% voter turnout was “the biggest participation in any of the status plebiscite held on the island,” and even greater than the percentage of voters who ratified the Commonwealth Constitution in 1952.

The resolution also touches on numerous issues that have been considered in the context of the plebiscite vote, including the growth of the Hispanic demographic within the United States, judgments by the international community on the United States for possessing a territory, the history of confusion in Puerto Rico’s past plebiscites that involved a “New Commonwealth” option, and the mass migration of Puerto Ricans in search of new opportunity in the fifty states.

The document, which was approved in both Spanish and English, concludes by requesting statehood “so that the U.S. citizens who reside in Puerto Rico may enjoy the same rights, benefits, and responsibilities as the citizens of the States of the Union, including the right to vote and to equal representation in Congress and vote in presidential elections, as well as the full extension to Puerto Rico of the powers reserved to the States or the people by the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

This is not the first time that the Puerto Rican legislature passed a concurrent resolution urging congressional action to end the island’s territorial status.  In 1997, the Puerto Rican legislature sent a resolution requesting Congress “to respond to the democratic aspiration of the American citizens of Puerto Rico,” and guarantee “the prompt decolonization of Puerto Rico through a plebiscite sponsored by the Federal Government.”  In a 1994 concurrent resolution, the legislature noted that the United States “has jurisdiction over any matter which alters or modifies the political status of Puerto Rico” and asked for its assistance in advancing self determination.

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