White House Director of Hispanic Media Luis Miranda issued a statement last night clarifying President Obama’s position on the recent Puerto Rico plebiscite vote in which 54% of voters selected to terminate Puerto Rico’s territorial status and 61% of the voters who chose a new political status for Puerto Rico selected statehood.
“To clarify, the results were clear, the people of Puerto Rico want the issue of status resolved, and a majority chose statehood in the second question,” the statement of Mr. Miranda read. “Now it is time for Congress to act and the Administration will work with them on that effort, so that the people of Puerto Rico can determine their own future.”
This statement followed a White House press briefing yesterday afternoon, in which Press Secretary Jay Carney was posed the following question: “[T]his last time around, 61 percent of Puerto Ricans voted for statehood. Is the President going to be helping us or trying to make it easier or trying to make it faster? What is he going to do for us?”
Carney’s initial response to the questioner’s pointed inquiry was off-the-cuff. He looked into the audience and explained, “Well, I think the outcome was a little less clear than that, because of the process itself.” Then he glanced down at his notes and haltingly read the following statement, looking up at the audience with occasional breaks before returning to his script:
“What I can tell you is that the people of Puerto Rico have made it clear that they want a resolution to the issue of the Island’s political status. Consistent with the recommendations of the Task Force report, Congress should now study the results closely and provide the people of Puerto Rico with a clear path forward that lays out the means by which Puerto Ricans themselves can determine their own status. This administration, as you know, is committed to the principle that the question of political status is a matter of self-determination for the people of Puerto Rico and the Task Force on Puerto Rico Status will work with Congress to address this important issue. In addition to the question of status, the Task Force continues to work with Congress, the people of Puerto Rico, and its leaders to address the concerns of four million U.S. citizens who call Puerto Rico home by implementing their 2011 report’s recommendations to promote job creation and economic development, education, health care, clean energy, and to improve security.”
The official statement read by Carney closely mirrored a joint statement issued on Friday by David Agnew and Tony West, co-chairs of the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s status,which emphasized how Puerto Rico “made it clear” it wants to resolve its political status.