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Rep. Radewagen: Full Equality for Puerto Rico

On March 9, American Samoa Delegate Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R) offered remarks in the House of Representatives in recognition of Puerto Rico’s 105th anniversary of attaining U.S. citizenship.

Her remarks, entitled “Full Equality for Puerto Rico,” came on the heels of related statements made by numerous members of Congress on March 2, the official anniversary date.

“For the past 105 years,” Radewagen began, “Puerto Ricans have served this country with the utmost distinction, especially the more than 235,000 Puerto Ricans that have donned this country’s uniform.”

Radewagen went on to express her thoughts specifically as a delegate from another territory.

“Puerto Ricans have spoken, and it is time for us to listen. As a Member of Congress from a territory, I can tell you that a lot has been said in recent years about the status of U.S. territories and their place in America. A lot of the noise that has been generated has been from people and groups outside the territories, who cannot comprehend the complexities of life in the territories. In my view, it is up to the people in each of our territories to express their wishes for their own futures.”

Puerto Rico voted for statehood

She went on to remind Congress that Puerto Rico’s voters chose statehood as their preferred status. “On November 3, 2020, a majority of Puerto Ricans answered with an emphatic ‘Yes’ when asked if they wanted to be a state. No ifs, ands; or buts. It is our duty as Members of Congress to immediately follow through on the demands of the people of Puerto Rico, and anything less would do them a great disservice.”

November 3, 2020, was the date of the most recent plebiscite on Puerto Rico’s political status. The ballot simply asked whether Puerto Rico should become a State, as the votes for Alaska’s and Hawaii’s statehood did. 53% of voters said, “Yes.”

This was the third referendum on Puerto Rico’s political status since 2012, and the third time statehood won.

Support for HR 1522

Radewagen continued, “During this time of celebration, I would also like to bring to the House’s attention the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act, which would grant Puerto Rico statehood. I wholeheartedly support this bipartisan piece of legislation that simply executes the wishes of the people of Puerto Rico.”

“I am proud to stand with my good friends Representatives Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon of Puerto Rico and Darren Soto of Florida as they seek to deliver for Puerto Ricans,” Radewagen concluded.

The reference here is to HR 1522, the Puerto Rico Statehood Admissions Act. This bill calls for Congress to offer statehood to Puerto Rico. Voters on the Island would then have an opportunity to ratify the vote — to accept the offer of statehood. If they voted “yes” again, Puerto Rico would become a state.

See the full speech on p. 60 of the Congressional Record for March 9, 2022. 

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