Local and national organizations make a call to address Puerto Rico's statehood claim
San Juan, Puerto Rico- Three local and national organizations urged Congress to respect the will of the people of Puerto Rico that has been expressed three consecutive times at the polls in favor of Statehood.
The three organizations are the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the Federation of Mayors of Puerto Rico, and the Federation of Municipal Legislators of Puerto Rico; This was announced by representatives Jenniffer González Colón, and Darren Soto, sponsors of H.R. 1522, ‘‘Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act’’.
“Both Congress and this Administration must act upon the claim made by the People of Puerto Rico for statehood, made three consecutive times through their votes, which how the will of the people is measured in our democracy. This claim is recognized by commercial organizations, civil rights organizations, local and national political groups, constitutional lawyers, among others. The support for this claim by LULAC, the largest organization in the United States defending Latino rights, shows that this issue transcends the borders of our territory and that the entire Nation is watching how our government treats its citizens,” said Congresswoman Jenniffer González Colón.
"The support of LULAC and other local organizations for our statehood bill for Puerto Rico further consolidates the need for Congress to listen to the people of Puerto Rico who have made it clear that they want to be our 51st state," said Congressman Darren Soto. "Our brothers and sisters on the island deserve the same representation as those who reside in the states and we will continue working to make this a reality."
“LULAC strongly supports the wishes of the people of Puerto Rico,” says Domingo García, LULAC National President. “It’s long overdue that Congress once and for all do the right thing and resolve this issue. Until we do, we will continue to see the inequality of treatment as we witnessed amid the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017, the earthquakes of 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic since early 2020. Full recovery of Puerto Rico can only happen when it too has both the voice and the vote at the ballot box to be heard. The time is now,” adds Garcia.
For her part, Elsie Valdés-Ramos, National Vice-President for Women and longtime Latino community advocate both in Puerto Rico and the U.S. mainland, highlighted the contributions to the nation by Puerto Ricans including paying federal taxes. “The people of Puerto Rico have earned the right to statehood, both through the electoral process and the decades of contributions and loyalty to the United States. We have done so in every sense of the word, up to and including serving in the armed forces and paying the highest price on behalf of our nation, the loss of our lives. We must no longer be denied, and I trust that this Admiration understands how important it is that Puerto Rico not be left behind”.
The Federation of Mayors of Puerto Rico and the Federation of Municipal Legislators of Puerto Rico addressed letters to the House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman, Raúl Grijalva and Ranking Member Bruce Westerman and to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Joe Manchin, and Ranking Member John Barrasso expressing the organization’s support to HR 1522 and S. 780.
“While each of our municipalities brings its own unique identity and contribution, they all share a common challenge. Under the current territory status, we are unable to provide an equal quality of life to our residents or to generate as many opportunities for our local residents as cities and towns in the states”, reads an excerpt from the letter of the Federation of Mayors of Puerto Rico chaired by the mayor of Guaynabo, Ángel Pérez Otero.
The mayors highlighted that, under the current status of the Commonwealth, the federal government can discriminate against Puerto Rico and the lack of representation and access to power by not being able to vote for the president or more representation in Congress.
“This combination of structural inequality and democratic deficit means that many of our most talented, hard-working and productive residents are being forced to seek equal opportunities and full voting rights only found in the states. This is tearing apart families and communities”, add the mayors.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Municipal Legislators of Puerto Rico, chaired by Luis Carlos Maldonado Padilla, points out that the legislation introduced by Representative Nydia Velázquez (NY) and Senator Robert Menendez (NJ), is not binding“Under the bill, Congress would be under no obligation to implement whichever status option is chosen by the convention and later voted on by the electorate. This would represent a huge setback for voters in Puerto Rico who have engaged in multiple acts of self-determination over the last decade and have shown, with increasing clarity, that Puerto Rico’s voters reject the current territory status and favor statehood above all non-territory options.”.
The Federation of Municipal Legislators noted that “recent polls show 81% of Puerto Rican residents in Florida and 69% of those in New York favor the admission of the island as a state. A majority of Americans have also supported the idea for decades according to Gallup. This is a settled issue on the island as well as across the Nation, and Congress has a moral obligation to act”.