The Puerto Rico Statehood Commission went to Washington to put the Tennessee Plan into operation.
The seven members of the Commission:
- Former Governor Carlos Romero Barcelo
- Former Governor Pedro Rosselló González
- Former Governor Luis Fortuño
- Former Senate President Charlie Rodríguez Colón
- Baseball Hall of Fame member Iván Rodríguez Torres
- GOP Committee representative Zoraida Fonalledas
- Brigadier General Félix Santoni
This bipartisan commission spoke today in Congress, presenting their credentials and requesting statehood for Puerto Rico.
Governor Rossello spoke, too, saying, “It is the right time” for Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union.
“This is a historic day for Puerto Rico,” Rossello said, reiterating his commitment “to make sure that Congress and the people of the world know the will of the people of Puerto Rico.”
“Being a colonial territory for over 500 years is just not sustainable,” the governor said. “The cause of that second class citizenship is that we are not a state… This is the year for Puerto Rico. This is the year we bounce back from Hurricane Maria but also from 500 years as a colony.”
For the first time, he remarked, most of the people in the U.S. know that residents of Puerto Rico are citizens of the United States. The response to the disaster also showed everyone, he said, that Puerto Rico is not treated equally with the States.
“This is the civil rights issue of this time,” Rossello insisted. “It is inconceivable in the 21st century for the greatest democracy in the world to have a colonial territory.
“The US, the standard bearer of democracy, has unfinished business. It does not have the moral standing to go to Cuba, to Iraq, to Venezuela and preach democracy and civil rights if it doesn’t do it it in its own back yard.”
The governor also said, reiterating points made over the past few days, that he intended to organize the Puerto Rican community. “We will actively support those who support equality for Puerto Rico,” he said. “It is a great day for Puerto Rico. It is a great day for the United States. It is a great day for Civil Rights..”
In response to a question from the Washington Times, the governor explained the process of becoming a state that lies ahead of Puerto Rico:
He said that there will be an Admissions Act from Congress which would include a binding referendum and a self-executing act leading to statehood.
Jenniffer Gonzalez spoke of “120 years under the U.S. flag, being U.S. citizens, but second class.” She referred to the controversy over the 2012 and 2017 votes, both of which supported statehood. “The people who vote, in all elections, are the ones that make the decision. That is the way that members of Congress are elected.”
Former Governor Luis Fortuno also spoke directly to the assembled members of Congress. “Any Member of Congress, if they moved to Puerto Rico, they would lose their vote,” he said. “If they moved to London, they would not lose those rights… This makes no sense in the 21st century.”