Puerto Rico’s new Governor, Ricardo Rossello, has called for statehood for Puerto Rico. In the video clip above, he is quoted as saying that “the United States cannot pretend to be a model of democracy for the world while it discriminates against 3.5 million of its citizens in Puerto Rico, depriving them of their right to political, social and economic equality under the U.S. flag.”
This statement was part of Rossello’s inaugural address. He also announced his intention to use the federal funds set aside for voter education and a new referendum on Puerto Rico’s status. These funds were approved by the federal government in 2014, but the former governor, Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla, did not hold the referendum. The funds continue to be available. The delay in setting up the new plebiscite stemmed from the former governor’s insistence on including “enhanced commonwealth” as an option on the ballot, when the federal government had already made it clear that this was not a “viable option” and could not be included.
Former Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi had proposed an up or down vote on statehood, such as those used for both Alaska and Hawaii. Rossello appears to favor a vote between statehood and independence. Voters rejected the status quo in 2012. They also chose statehood among the viable status options, but there has been controversy over that vote. The new referendum is intended to clarify the situation.
However, Rossello leaves no question about his preferred status for Puerto Rico. In the same speech, he announced his intention to use the Tennessee Plan to speed up the process of achieving statehood and his plan to fly to Washington, D.C., to introduce and support a bill for Puerto Rico statehood.
Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon has followed through by introducing a bill requesting statehood for Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States, has been a territory for more than a century, longer than any of the 32 territories which have become states since the formation of the United States.