The Supreme Court Considers Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle

The Supreme Court held oral arguments yesterday on Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle.

Although the case could represent a significant development in the debate concerning Puerto Rico’s political status, from most indications it appears that the Justices are considering the case within the narrow confines of the Constitution’s Double Jeopardy Clause, which prohibits a second jurisdiction from prosecuting a defendant twice for the same crime.

The issue in Sanchez Valle is whether Puerto Rico should be considered a seperately under the Double Jeopardy Clause because, as the Commonwealth government argues, the people of Puerto Rico enacted their own constitution in 1952, or, rather, Puerto Rican and federal courts represent the same source of authority under the terms of the U.S. Territorial Clause and, likewise, Congress ultimately had to approve the Puerto Rican Constitution for it to have the force of law.

The transcript has been made public and is available here.

Many of the Justices asked questions reflecting the sentiment that a ruling in favor of the Puerto Rico Government need not—and should not—be resolved on the ground that Puerto Rico is a “sovereign”  with powers like those of a nation.  Whether the Court will ultimately rule in favor of the Puerto Rico Government on narrower grounds, however, remains unclear after the oral argument.

The case has drawn a lot of attention in Puerto Rico. An amici brief was filed by a long list of current and former elected and senior appointed officials in Puerto Rico, arguing that “however this Court ultimately resolves the narrow question presented . . . whether the territory of Puerto Rico can be treated as a ‘sovereign’ separate from the federal government for double jeopardy purposes does not bear on the broader question of the territory’s political status or relationship to the United States in other respects.”  The brief further noted that a broad ruling could “have far-reaching and unintended consequences for the long-running political debate over Puerto Rico’s status, as well as for other settled legal questions.”  Signatories on this brief included Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, former Governors Luis Fortuño and Carlos A. Romero-Barceló, former Puerto Rico Senate Presidents Kennth McClintock, Thomas Rivera Schatz, and Charles  Rodríguez, former House Speakers and current members Jenniffer González and José F. Aponte-Hernández, former House Speaker and Puerto Rico appellate judge Zaida Hernández-Torres, and former Attorneys General Guillermo A. Somoza-Colombani, Antonio M. Sagardía-De Jesús and José A. Fuentes Agostini.

The biggest news coming out of the Sanchez Valle case, however, has been the arguments made by the United States Department of Justice in its amici brief.  In what could be the strongest executive branch statement on Puerto Rico’s status since the Clinton administration’s 2001 memorandum signed by Assistant Attorney General Robert Raben, the Justice Deparment explained that “United States territories are not sovereigns. The Constitution affords no independent political status to territories but instead confirms that they are under the sovereignty of the United States and subject to the plenary authority of Congress. It has long been settled that “there is no sovereignty in a Territory of the United States but that of the United States itself.”  The Court therefore has recognized that territories are not separate sovereigns under the Double Jeopardy Clause. Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, and it therefore is not a sovereign for double jeopardy purposes.” (citations omitted)

The U.S. Justice Department further argued that “The events of 1950-1952 did not transform Puerto Rico into a sovereign. Before 1950, Congress had progressively authorized self-government in Puerto Rico. As a further step, in 1950 Congress permitted the people of Puerto Rico to adopt a constitution, which Congress approved with revisions in 1952.  Those events were of profound significance for the relationship between the United States and PuertoRico, but they did not alter Puerto Rico’s constitution-al status as a U.S. territory. The United States did not cede its sovereignty over Puerto Rico by admitting it as a State or granting it independence. Rather, Congress authorized Puerto Rico to exercise govern-ance over local affairs. That arrangement can be revised by Congress, and federal and Puerto Rico officials understood that Puerto Rico’s adoption of a constitution did not change its constitutional status. The ultimate source of sovereign power in Puerto Rico thus remains the United States.”

Finally, the Bar Association of the U.S. Virgin Islands filed an amicus brief bringing up a perspective from one of the other U.S. territories: “[T]his Court’s decision in the present matter will have
critical import not only to Puerto Rico but also to the other United States territories–including, at the very least, the Virgin Islands. If this Court decides that Puerto Rico is a separate sovereign for the purposes of the Double Jeopardy Clause, that decision arguably could be extended to the Virgin Islands and its citizens. The VIBA’s concerns with the extension of this decision to the Virgin Islands mirror its issue with the position that the Petitioner has taken in this appeal: it saddles the territories with the burdens that go along with being a state but awards them none of the benefits. This is where Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands share additional similarities, though somewhat less glamorous. Neither territory has representation in the United States Senate and each has only one non-voting delegate in the House of Representatives. Neither territory is entitled to electoral votes for President.”

13 Comments

Dennis Freytes

Hi! The US Supreme Court will hear two Puerto Rico cases starting JAN 13, 2016: Sanchez Valle (Double Jeopardy) and Government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Debt Restructure). Please, see my below comments. Publish/Share!
**US Supreme Court: End Federal Tyranny-Free Puerto Rico!**
“Canto claro como un Gallo Boricua de Manati!”
The complex US Territory of Puerto Rico’s equal rights; status quandary- that affects millions of discriminated US Citizens, is not only about a “Group Vote” on the status question. But, more essentially crucial, it’s about– the highest precepts, morals, and ideals of our US Republic’s Constitution– Equal treatment under just laws; due process; equal application of the US Constitution to ALL US Citizens—with protected individual civil rights! This is about fair opportunity in a level playing field; the Soul and Spirit of our representative democracy—consent of the governed; true justice for all!

How can we (including the US Supreme Court) tolerate discrimination against millions of Puerto Ricans–2d Class US Citizens (includes American Veterans) that can’t vote for their US President/Head of State nor have just representation in the US Congress that determines their final destiny, nor full benefits or parity in laws that other fellow US Citizens enjoy? It’s simple, you either support Equality for ALL US Citizens or you discriminate!

Thus, the US Supreme Court, in two Puerto Rico cases, Sanchez Valle (Double Jeopardy) and Government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Debt Restructure), should look broadly at the racist root causes of PR’s structural Status crisis that impacts on all Puerto Rico’s issues (Civil Rights, Fiscal, Debt, Economy, Parity in Federal Laws-Double Jeopardy, etc.) as it deliberates on a decision; follow the excellent well documented presentation of the US Solicitor General—which was accurate in defining Puerto Rico as a US Territory, under the plenary powers of US Congress, per the US Constitution.

Former Chief Judge Torruella (Boston 1st Circuit) states, “The Supreme Court continues to cling to this anachronistic remnant of the stone age of American constitutional law notwithstanding that the doctrines espoused by the “Insular Cases” seriously curtail the rights of several million citizens… of the US.”

Reflecting on over 118+ years of US un-democratic control of Puerto Rico, Torruella further says: “the disparity of rights that result from this relationship has in my opinion for too long been relegated to the back burners of American constitutional thought and dialogue…” and “whatever the future holds for this island, its people should strive for the equality which has too long eluded them”.
**(Please, See Notes for more extracts of comments from former Supreme Court Justices, US Attorney Generals, Presidential Reports, and others that agree—it’s time to ensure equal US Citizenship; end Puerto Rico’s trite Territorial status.)

The time has come for the US Supreme Court to take action; make right—true Justice—that ensures an Equal US Citizenship; cut Puerto Rico’s federally undemocratic territorial shackles by overturning un-just laws; getting Congress to act on a non-territorial Status.
• Not limit the decision to just the “Double Jeopardy or Debt Restructuring Cases”; but, move to tear down veiled racism, biased, and discrimination, against Puerto Ricans—found in the:
o Treaty of Paris (1898)—the US acquires Puerto Rico from Spain as Booty of War with no guaranteed human/civil rights for Puerto Ricans…
o Foraker Act (1900—sets the stage where some Congressmen called Puerto Ricans “aliens, mestizos, not fit to governed themselves…”). Invented terms, like “unincorporated” not found in the US Constitution… or used on other US Territories before they became States…
o Jones Act (1917)—where a non-permanent statutory (by law) 2d Class US Citizenship was imposed on Puerto Ricans (no Plebiscite or Referendum was held)—without all rights, responsibilities, and benefits that other US Citizens enjoy under US jurisdiction.
o The Insular Cases (1901-1925+); especially Bidwell—that had the same Justice that decided Plessy vs Ferguson (Blacks are equal but, separate) which was overturned by Brown vs Board of Education sustained the “unincorporated” term, not found in the US Constitution…
o Balzac decision (1922) where the US Supreme Court, made up terms (like: Puerto Rico is an “unincorporated US Territory…more foreign than domestic…belongs to, but, is not part of the US “, after a statutory 2d Class US Citizenship had been given! These discriminating Terms are not found in the US Constitution; were never applied to other Territories before.
o THUS, it was determined– Congress can discriminate in applying the US Constitution to US Citizens residing in the “unincorporated” US Territory of Puerto Rico; can take away a statutory US Citizenship—of those born in Puerto Rico… (Per Presidential, US Justice Department Report).
• The Federal and US Supreme Court, in deciding Cases in our evolved US Constitution-we own)–should give more weight to the Constitutional Amendments that protects the US Citizen (with equal rights)-the building block of our US Republic’s representative democracy system OVER the trite federally undemocratic Territorial Clause (that wasn’t meant to be forever before Puerto Rico).
• Also rightfully declare, based on the treatment of previous Territories that all became States: the intent of the original Territorial Clause was meant to transition a US Territory to Statehood or Independence, not to hold a US Territory (like Puerto Rico) undemocratically captive by the Federal Government/Congress forever! Especially when all previous Territories, before Puerto Rico, were never treated as “Unincorporated” Territories, such as Puerto Rico is now treated (based on invented non-constitutional terms rooted on racism and discrimination).
• Ensure an EQUAL US Citizenship by revoking veiled biased parts of Laws enacted by Congress (Foraker Act and Jones Act); and parts of the US Supreme Court Insular Cases (1901-1925), e.g.: Bidwell (1901) and Balzac (1922) which misinterpreted our evolving US Constitution (that we today own); and allowed Congress to wield veiled un-just powers that discriminate (differentiate) in applying the US Constitution (as sustained in Harris vs Rosario)—even today!

The US Citizen (with protected Individual Civil Rights), is more central to our US Constitution—it is what Constitution is all about. Thus, the Constitutional Amendments should trump the Territorial Clause that was meant to be a transition stage. The Federal Government is there to fairly serve the Citizens; not be their Master. I can go on; but, hope that by now, you can see the illuminating light of Justice!

In the sum– for Liberty to prevail for all US Citizens-the epicenter of our US Republic, it is recommended that the US and Puerto Rican Justice Departments lead and Champion, with all American Patriots of True Grit, the fight for Equality-a just cause– get our Federal/US Supreme Courts to:
1. Overturn all laws and Supreme Court Decisions that are rooted in racism and discrimination that includes Balzac and other Decisions. (Please, see Notes below.)

2. Direct Congress (which never has acted) to promptly conduct a sanctioned non-territorial Plebiscite with constitutional defined options (see notes for details): STATEHOOD: YES or NO (respect the local Vote of November 2012-where 61.1% voted for Statehood; about 5% for Independence—that in other local Plebiscites, never gets more than 3-5% of the VOTE– because most Puerto Ricans cherish their US Citizenship; are loyal to the US Constitution).
• Alternative Plebiscite: STATEHOOD (with US Citizenship; US Constitution; State Boricua Identity and State Sovereignty…) VS INDEPENDENCE-with Pact VS INDEPENDENCE-Total- -WITH Puerto Rican Citizenship and PR Constitution… A Nation can’t be sovereign with the Citizenship and Constitution of another Nation… (Please, see Notes for details.)
3. Besides, rule that all statutory (by law) loyal US Citizens, that reside in the States, have a permanent US Citizenship by virtue of their State Residency– where due process; equal treatment of the Law applies… (Right now their statutory US Citizenship is in question; because Congress can take it away; have standing to VOTE in any Plebiscite where the outcome can affect them.)

Since, PR became a US Territory in 1898– it has bravely sacrificed, shed sweat, blood and tears–under the American Flag– till today!

US Puerto Ricans (with an educated work force; about 9 million strong-PR and States) have worked hard, sacrificed and made great valuable contributions (that includes creating hundreds of thousand US Jobs), as they work with all US Citizens–for the good of our beloved USA! Besides, Puerto Rican Ancestors (roots) settled; help develop and defend America—107 years before the Pilgrims!

Plus, Puerto Rican Ancestors fought in the US War of Independence, and other Wars- supporting the US Flag; help protect our USA! Thus, the US belongs to Puerto Ricans too; demand to be treated fairly/equally like others are! Today, Puerto Rico is more integrated into the US than other US Territories that became States…

US Citizens in Puerto Rico “suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” because of the suzerain Federal Government’s almost 120 years federal subjugation and indifference in taking action to redress a wrong! We hope the Federal and US Supreme Courts will ensure Equality! With truth and reason—WE will Overcome!

Dennis O. Freytes MPA, MHR, BBA; American Veteran (former Commander of Infantry, Special Forces, Airborne…); Community Servant Leader; Former Professor (PMS) Director/Commandant ROTC Officer School-University of Puerto Rico; Trustee Valencia College…

NOTES:
• Since Puerto Ricans, voted in a local Plebiscite (NOV 2012) for Statehood (certified results: 61+%; Independence: 5%), the Federal Government should first PASS, with defined Constitutional clear options:
• H.R. 727–Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Process Act— STATEHOOD: YES or NO
*NOTE 1: This bill must be amended to add defined constitutional options; allow all statutory US Citizens to Vote no matter where they reside because they have standing as the outcome can affect them.
EXAMPLE: STATEHOOD YES or NO: CHOOSE ONLY ONE:
YES____ STATEHOOD (EQUALITY)
MEANS: The US Territory of Puerto Rico will enter the “Union of the United States” as Equals– with a permanent US Citizenship, under the US Constitution, with—equal rights, responsibilities, and benefits; State Boricua Identity; State Sovereignty; State Constitution.
NO ____ REMAIN a US TERRITORY (INEQUALITY)
MEANS: Puerto Rico remains a federally undemocratic US Territory–per the US Constitution Territorial Clause that states: “Congress shall have the power to dispose of and make all rules and regulations pertinent to the Territory or Property belonging to the US”; also, per the US Supreme Court Insular Cases (includes Balzac), and other Decisions, that permits the US Congress to discriminate in applying the US Constitution to the “unincorporated” US Territory of Puerto Rico–allowing an unequal US Citizenship without all rights, responsibilities or benefits or a permanent US Citizenship-if born in Puerto Rico; NO VOTE for US President/ Head of State or just representation in US Congress (while residing in Puerto Rico).

ALTERNATIVE:
An alternative is for Congress to conduct a sanctioned democratic Referendum between constitutionally defined Non-Territorial Options that will once and for all resolve PR’s unequal incongruent Status.
STATEHOOD vs INDEPENDENCE-with Pact vs INDEPENDENCE -Total

CHOOSE ONLY ONE of the US Constitutional Non-Territorial Options:
_____STATEHOOD
MEANS: The US Territory of Puerto Rico will enter the “Union of the United States” as Equals– with a permanent US Citizenship, under the US Constitution, with—equal rights, responsibilities, and benefits; State Boricua Identity; State Sovereignty; State Constitution.
_____ INDEPENDENCE- WITH PACT (Free Association or ELA Soberana or any other Name)
MEANS: The US Territory of Puerto Rico would become a Sovereign Entity with Puerto Rican Citizenship, under a Puerto Rican Constitution, but, with a PACT of Association with the United States; which terms need to be negotiated; can be terminated by any of the Parts.
*NOTE: Statutory (by law) US Citizens (born in Puerto Rico; no matter their residency) have a non-permanent US Citizenship that can be lost, unless the Congress decides to extend the US Citizenship by Pact or Treaty (up to a point) or to those residing in the States by Naturalization.
_____INDEPENDANCE-TOTAL
MEANS: The US Territory of Puerto Rico would become a Sovereign Entity with Puerto Rican Citizenship (under a Puerto Rican Constitution) with no negotiated Associated Pact or Treaty.
*NOTE: Statutory (by law) US Citizens (born in Puerto Rico) have a non-permanent US Citizenship that will be lost (with all Federal benefits-Social Security, MEDICARE, MEDCAID, etc.) for all residing in a Sovereign Puerto Rico; unless the US Congress decides to Naturalized those statutory US Citizens residing in the States. Plus, all US Federal Funding would cease (Health, Defense, Security, Education, Transportation, etc.).

It’s time, to stop discrimination; political distortion! The US and Puerto Rico’s Justice Departments most do their duty–take up the just cause-equality fight to the Federal/ US Supreme Courts—until they do true justice; not continue to abide by faulty pass biased decisions rooted in racism, and discrimination! The US Citizen comes first! The US President; US Congress; Federal/US Supreme Courts are there to serve and fight for its US Citizens, not suppress them!

Dennis Freytes

**US Supreme Court: End Federal Tyranny-Free Puerto Rico!**
“Canto claro como un Gallo Boricua de Manati!”
The complex US Territory of Puerto Rico’s equal rights; status quandary- that affects millions of discriminated US Citizens, is not only about a “Group Vote” on the status question. But, more essentially crucial, it’s about– the highest precepts, morals, and ideals of our US Republic’s Constitution– Equal treatment under just laws; due process; equal application of the US Constitution to ALL US Citizens—with protected individual civil rights! This is about fair opportunity in a level playing field; the Soul and Spirit of our representative democracy—consent of the governed; true justice for all!

How can we (including the US Supreme Court) tolerate discrimination against millions of Puerto Ricans–2d Class US Citizens (includes American Veterans) that can’t vote for their US President/Head of State nor have just representation in the US Congress that determines their final destiny, nor full benefits or parity in laws that other fellow US Citizens enjoy? It’s simple, you either support Equality for ALL US Citizens or you discriminate!

Thus, the US Supreme Court, in two Puerto Rico cases, Sanchez Valle (Double Jeopardy) and Government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Debt Restructure), should look broadly at the racist root causes of PR’s structural Status crisis that impacts on all Puerto Rico’s issues (Civil Rights, Fiscal, Debt, Economy, Parity in Federal Laws-Double Jeopardy, etc.) as it deliberates on a decision; follow the excellent well documented presentation of the US Solicitor General—which was accurate in defining Puerto Rico as a US Territory, under the plenary powers of US Congress, per the US Constitution.

Former Chief Judge Torruella (Boston 1st Circuit) states, “The Supreme Court continues to cling to this anachronistic remnant of the stone age of American constitutional law notwithstanding that the doctrines espoused by the “Insular Cases” seriously curtail the rights of several million citizens… of the US.”

Reflecting on over 118+ years of US un-democratic control of Puerto Rico, Torruella further says: “the disparity of rights that result from this relationship has in my opinion for too long been relegated to the back burners of American constitutional thought and dialogue…” and “whatever the future holds for this island, its people should strive for the equality which has too long eluded them”.
**(Please, See Notes for more extracts of comments from former Supreme Court Justices, US Attorney Generals, Presidential Reports, and others that agree—it’s time to ensure equal US Citizenship; end Puerto Rico’s trite Territorial status.)

The time has come for the US Supreme Court to take action; make right—true Justice—that ensures an Equal US Citizenship; cut Puerto Rico’s federally undemocratic territorial shackles by overturning un-just laws; getting Congress to act on a non-territorial Status.
• Not limit the decision to just the “Double Jeopardy or Debt Restructuring Cases”; but, move to tear down veiled racism, biased, and discrimination, against Puerto Ricans—found in the:
o Treaty of Paris (1898)—the US acquires Puerto Rico from Spain as Booty of War with no guaranteed human/civil rights for Puerto Ricans…
o Foraker Act (1900—sets the stage where some Congressmen called Puerto Ricans “aliens, mestizos, not fit to governed themselves…”). Invented terms, like “unincorporated” not found in the US Constitution… or used on other US Territories before they became States…
o Jones Act (1917)—where a non-permanent statutory (by law) 2d Class US Citizenship was imposed on Puerto Ricans (no Plebiscite or Referendum was held)—without all rights, responsibilities, and benefits that other US Citizens enjoy under US jurisdiction.
o The Insular Cases (1901-1925+); especially Bidwell—that had the same Justice that decided Plessy vs Ferguson (Blacks are equal but, separate) which was overturned by Brown vs Board of Education sustained the “unincorporated” term, not found in the US Constitution…
o Balzac decision (1922) where the US Supreme Court, made up terms (like: Puerto Rico is an “unincorporated US Territory…more foreign than domestic…belongs to, but, is not part of the US “, after a statutory 2d Class US Citizenship had been given! These discriminating Terms are not found in the US Constitution; were never applied to other Territories before.
o THUS, it was determined– Congress can discriminate in applying the US Constitution to US Citizens residing in the “unincorporated” US Territory of Puerto Rico; can take away a statutory US Citizenship—of those born in Puerto Rico… (Per Presidential, US Justice Department Report).
• The Federal and US Supreme Court, in deciding Cases in our evolved US Constitution-we own)–should give more weight to the Constitutional Amendments that protects the US Citizen (with equal rights)-the building block of our US Republic’s representative democracy system OVER the trite federally undemocratic Territorial Clause (that wasn’t meant to be forever before Puerto Rico).
• Also rightfully declare, based on the treatment of previous Territories that all became States: the intent of the original Territorial Clause was meant to transition a US Territory to Statehood or Independence, not to hold a US Territory (like Puerto Rico) undemocratically captive by the Federal Government/Congress forever! Especially when all previous Territories, before Puerto Rico, were never treated as “Unincorporated” Territories, such as Puerto Rico is now treated (based on invented non-constitutional terms rooted on racism and discrimination).
• Ensure an EQUAL US Citizenship by revoking veiled biased parts of Laws enacted by Congress (Foraker Act and Jones Act); and parts of the US Supreme Court Insular Cases (1901-1925), e.g.: Bidwell (1901) and Balzac (1922) which misinterpreted our evolving US Constitution (that we today own); and allowed Congress to wield veiled un-just powers that discriminate (differentiate) in applying the US Constitution (as sustained in Harris vs Rosario)—even today!

The US Citizen (with protected Individual Civil Rights), is more central to our US Constitution—it is what Constitution is all about. Thus, the Constitutional Amendments should trump the Territorial Clause that was meant to be a transition stage. The Federal Government is there to fairly serve the Citizens; not be their Master. I can go on; but, hope that by now, you can see the illuminating light of Justice!

In the sum– for Liberty to prevail for all US Citizens-the epicenter of our US Republic, it is recommended that the US and Puerto Rican Justice Departments lead and Champion, with all American Patriots of True Grit, the fight for Equality-a just cause– get our Federal/US Supreme Courts to:
1. Overturn all laws and Supreme Court Decisions that are rooted in racism and discrimination that includes Balzac and other Decisions. (Please, see Notes below.)

2. Direct Congress (which never has acted) to promptly conduct a sanctioned non-territorial Plebiscite with constitutional defined options (see notes for details): STATEHOOD: YES or NO (respect the local Vote of November 2012-where 61.1% voted for Statehood; about 5% for Independence—that in other local Plebiscites, never gets more than 3-5% of the VOTE– because most Puerto Ricans cherish their US Citizenship; are loyal to the US Constitution).
• Alternative Plebiscite: STATEHOOD (with US Citizenship; US Constitution; State Boricua Identity and State Sovereignty…) VS INDEPENDENCE-with Pact VS INDEPENDENCE-Total- -WITH Puerto Rican Citizenship and PR Constitution… A Nation can’t be sovereign with the Citizenship and Constitution of another Nation… (Please, see Notes for details.)
3. Besides, rule that all statutory (by law) loyal US Citizens, that reside in the States, have a permanent US Citizenship by virtue of their State Residency– where due process; equal treatment of the Law applies… (Right now their statutory US Citizenship is in question; because Congress can take it away; have standing to VOTE in any Plebiscite where the outcome can affect them.)

Since, PR became a US Territory in 1898– it has bravely sacrificed, shed sweat, blood and tears–under the American Flag– till today!

US Puerto Ricans (with an educated work force; about 9 million strong-PR and States) have worked hard, sacrificed and made great valuable contributions (that includes creating hundreds of thousand US Jobs), as they work with all US Citizens–for the good of our beloved USA! Besides, Puerto Rican Ancestors (roots) settled; help develop and defend America—107 years before the Pilgrims!

Plus, Puerto Rican Ancestors fought in the US War of Independence, and other Wars- supporting the US Flag; help protect our USA! Thus, the US belongs to Puerto Ricans too; demand to be treated fairly/equally like others are! Today, Puerto Rico is more integrated into the US than other US Territories that became States…

US Citizens in Puerto Rico “suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” because of the suzerain Federal Government’s almost 120 years federal subjugation and indifference in taking action to redress a wrong! We hope the Federal and US Supreme Courts will ensure Equality! With truth and reason—WE will Overcome!

Dennis O. Freytes MPA, MHR, BBA; American Veteran (former Commander of Infantry, Special Forces, Airborne…); Community Servant Leader; Former Professor (PMS) Director/Commandant ROTC Officer School-University of Puerto Rico; Trustee Valencia College…

NOTES:
• Since Puerto Ricans, voted in a local Plebiscite (NOV 2012) for Statehood (certified results: 61+%; Independence: 5%), the Federal Government should first PASS, with defined Constitutional clear options:
• H.R. 727–Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Process Act— STATEHOOD: YES or NO
*NOTE 1: This bill must be amended to add defined constitutional options; allow all statutory US Citizens to Vote no matter where they reside because they have standing as the outcome can affect them.
EXAMPLE: STATEHOOD YES or NO: CHOOSE ONLY ONE:
YES____ STATEHOOD (EQUALITY)
MEANS: The US Territory of Puerto Rico will enter the “Union of the United States” as Equals– with a permanent US Citizenship, under the US Constitution, with—equal rights, responsibilities, and benefits; State Boricua Identity; State Sovereignty; State Constitution.
NO ____ REMAIN a US TERRITORY (INEQUALITY)
MEANS: Puerto Rico remains a federally undemocratic US Territory–per the US Constitution Territorial Clause that states: “Congress shall have the power to dispose of and make all rules and regulations pertinent to the Territory or Property belonging to the US”; also, per the US Supreme Court Insular Cases (includes Balzac), and other Decisions, that permits the US Congress to discriminate in applying the US Constitution to the “unincorporated” US Territory of Puerto Rico–allowing an unequal US Citizenship without all rights, responsibilities or benefits or a permanent US Citizenship-if born in Puerto Rico; NO VOTE for US President/ Head of State or just representation in US Congress (while residing in Puerto Rico).

ALTERNATIVE:
An alternative is for Congress to conduct a sanctioned democratic Referendum between constitutionally defined Non-Territorial Options that will once and for all resolve PR’s unequal incongruent Status.
STATEHOOD vs INDEPENDENCE-with Pact vs INDEPENDENCE -Total

CHOOSE ONLY ONE of the US Constitutional Non-Territorial Options:
_____STATEHOOD
MEANS: The US Territory of Puerto Rico will enter the “Union of the United States” as Equals– with a permanent US Citizenship, under the US Constitution, with—equal rights, responsibilities, and benefits; State Boricua Identity; State Sovereignty; State Constitution.
_____ INDEPENDENCE- WITH PACT (Free Association or ELA Soberana or any other Name)
MEANS: The US Territory of Puerto Rico would become a Sovereign Entity with Puerto Rican Citizenship, under a Puerto Rican Constitution, but, with a PACT of Association with the United States; which terms need to be negotiated; can be terminated by any of the Parts.
*NOTE: Statutory (by law) US Citizens (born in Puerto Rico; no matter their residency) have a non-permanent US Citizenship that can be lost, unless the Congress decides to extend the US Citizenship by Pact or Treaty (up to a point) or to those residing in the States by Naturalization.
_____INDEPENDANCE-TOTAL
MEANS: The US Territory of Puerto Rico would become a Sovereign Entity with Puerto Rican Citizenship (under a Puerto Rican Constitution) with no negotiated Associated Pact or Treaty.
*NOTE: Statutory (by law) US Citizens (born in Puerto Rico) have a non-permanent US Citizenship that will be lost (with all Federal benefits-Social Security, MEDICARE, MEDCAID, etc.) for all residing in a Sovereign Puerto Rico; unless the US Congress decides to Naturalized those statutory US Citizens residing in the States. Plus, all US Federal Funding would cease (Health, Defense, Security, Education, Transportation, etc.).

It’s time, to stop discrimination; political distortion! The US and Puerto Rico’s Justice Departments most do their duty–take up the just cause-equality fight to the Federal/ US Supreme Courts—until they do true justice; not continue to abide by faulty pass biased decisions rooted in racism, and discrimination! The US Citizen comes first! The US President; US Congress; Federal/US Supreme Courts are there to serve and fight for its US Citizens, not suppress them!

Dennis Myers

I would group the two Independance options together for clarity. With or without a compact, PR would still be an independent nation. We can assume a close relationship with the United States because of our shared history. Even without a treaty between us, if someone were to invade an independent PR, the US would respond. While I support statehood, I think splitting the other side does a disservice to them.

Luis Arroyo

REFERENDUM; STATEHOOD VS SEPARATE SOVEREIGNTY.
IF SOVEREIGNTY WINS, A SECOND VOTE BETWEEN INDEPENDENCE & FREE ASSOCIATION.

OR, A REFERENDUM;
PERMANENT UNION WITH US. Yes or no.
IF PERMANENT UNION WINS A SECOND VOTE;
INCORPORATED TERRITORY VS STATEHOOD.

Chris

I wholeheartedly agree with the proposal for statehood vs independence referendum.

I don’t know why Pierluisi is so fixated on a statehood yes or no referendum when that will just allow colonialists an easy way out: vote no. Puerto Ricans need to be forced to confront reality and the best way for that is to pit statehood vs independence.

Dennis Myers

he is focused on that because no other territory was ever offered that choice. It was US state, yes or no. Except for those territories congress decided they didn’t want to ever be states, which they “gave” independence to, like The Philippines and American Samoa.

Chris

I also like Luis Arroto’s proposal, something along those lines is also the recommended approach of the White House Task Force.

Chris

The problem with this approach is that Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico, etc did not have half of their electorate advocating for the status quo territorial status. Support for statehood was nearly unanimous.

The only way Puerto Rico will become a state is if the Populares are forced to vote for statehood. The best way to achieve that is a statehood vs independence referendum.

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