Understanding Free Association

Freely Associate States

Puerto Rico is currently a possession, or territory, of the United States. It could also become a State or a nation with its own sovereignty.

As a nation, Puerto Rico could sign a Compact of Free Association (COFA) with the United States, creating especially close ties as a Freely Associated State.  Either nation could unilaterally terminate the relationship.

For decades, some leaders in Puerto Rico have claimed that Puerto Rico could  become an “enhanced commonwealth.” Sometimes called “perfected commonwealth” or “developed commonwealth,” this idea includes cherry-picking among federal laws in their application to Puerto Rico and creating a completely new relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States. All three branches of the federal government have rejected this option.

As it has become clear that “enhanced commonwealth” is a non-starter, some of its supporters have started suggesting that Puerto Rico can have that brand new relationship under “Free Association.”

In 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) expressed concern that voters might confuse the two options. In rejecting the text of a proposed plebiscite ballot, the DOJ made sure Puerto Rican voters understood that “Free Association” is an option only after independence. The Compact of Free Association between the United States and the nations that are now Freely Associated States are deals between sovereign nations, not between a territory and the United States.

Read more about Free Association:

Get the basics. This article explains just what Free Association is and how it works.

Is it possible to repackage a rejected “enhanced commonwealth” status as “free association”?

The federal government has said clearly that Puerto Rico as a Freely Associated State could not count on keeping U.S. citizenship. Read the statements made by every branch of the government.

See how the federal government has responded to efforts to relabel “enhanced commonwealth” as “Free Association.”

What would a Compact of Free Association between Puerto Rico and the United States look like?

Territories tend to receive more generous health benefits than Freely Associated States.

In Free Association arrangements, either side can change the deal at any time. Puerto Rico cannot, for example, guarantee that the United States will allow citizens of a republic of Puerto Rico to keep their U.S. citizenship forever. See how the law works.

Puerto Rico could become a Freely Associated State, but it’s necessary to be aware of the possible drawbacks.

 

As Puerto Rico moves forward, it’s essential that voters and lawmakers alike understand what a Freely Associated State is and how that status would affect residents of Puerto Rico.

Updated August 20, 2019

3 Comments

Dennis Freytes

Commonwealth or ELA (Free Associated State) are esotoric (no meaning) political Terms not found in the US Constitution–which only recognizes four forms of Government, under the sovereignty of the US–one for: States; Territories; District of Colombia; Indian Tribes. Under the US Constitution the status of Puerto Rico is US Territory. However, the US Congress, under the Territorial Clause and US Supreme Court Insular Cases can allowed the Government of Puerto Rico to be called a Commonwealth or ELA. But, the US Congress is not above the US Constitution to allow for “Enhanced ELA” with sovereignty as another Status outside the Territorial Clause. Puerto Rico has no soverignty unles it becomes a State or has Independence. The Federal Government-US Congress must provide– EQUALITY+PROGESS=STATEHOOD with DIGNITY!

Dennis Freytes

Commonwealth or ELA (Free Associated State) are esoteric (no meaning) political Terms not found in the US Constitution–which only recognizes four forms of Government, under the sovereignty of the US–one for States; Territories; District of Colombia; Indian Tribes.

Under the US Constitution, the status of Puerto Rico is US Territory. However, the US Congress, under the Territorial Clause and US Supreme Court Insular Cases can allow the Government of Puerto Rico to be called a Commonwealth or ELA.

But, the US Congress is not above the US Constitution to allow for “Enhanced ELA” with sovereignty as another Status outside the Territorial Clause. Puerto Rico has no sovereignty unless it becomes a State or has Independence.

The Federal Government-US Congress must provide– EQUALITY+PROGESS=STATEHOOD with DIGNITY

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.