Organizations in the US ask Congress to give way to Ocasio-Cortez legislation to resolve the status of Puerto Rico

NEW YORK – More than 85 Puerto Rican organizations that advocate from the United States for the needs of this territory sent a letter to the main Democratic leaders in the federal Congress, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumerso that they give priority to the legislation presented by the representatives Nydia Velázquez and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortezto promote a Constitutional Assembly of Status as a solution to the colonial problem on the island.

The letter that has been circulating since yesterday on the Power4PuertoRico websiteone of the entities that signed the document, states that the proposal of the “Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act” Introduced in the House of Representatives in August of last year, it is the “best” and “truly democratic” legislation to solve the problem of the island’s political status that Puerto Ricans have faced for 123 years.

According to the signatories of the letter, the proposal for a Status Convention is the most inclusive way to submit all non-colonial options to Puerto Ricans and let them decide.

“Progressives around the country closely follow the current debates about Puerto Rico. As you know, there are different opinions on how to resolve the colonial status. However, only Puerto Ricans should have the authority and the right to decide the future of Puerto Rico. To this date, there has not been a fair, transparent, and binding process at the federal level for Puerto Ricans to determine their political status. It is time for that to change and that is why we urge your support to support the right to a self-determination process that is fair and inclusive of all non-territorial options,” the letter begins.

A referendum that is neither inclusive nor decisive

In the opinion of the members of the organizations that include SEIU, Black Lives Matter Greater New York, Vamos Puerto Rico, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Faith in Action, Indivisible y Open Society Policy Center, the last referendum on November 3 promoted by the ruling New Progressive Partywhose leaders favor statehood for the island, was not an inclusive and decisive process, since, among other things, only a little more than 50% of registered voters participated.

“While some may argue that Puerto Rican opinion regarding political status was settled by the referendum results administered during the November 3, 2020 election, that is not the case for two reasons. First, only 54.72% of registered voters participated in the referendum, making the narrow margin by which the ‘yes’ to statehood vote won (52.52%) not decisive. Second, the referendum — a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for statehood — was non-binding, did not include a transition plan or an educational campaign on the consequences of voting, and did not include other political status options. groups in favor of the project of the democratic representatives of New York.

“This is not a substitute for the deliberative process contemplated in the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act, through which democratically elected members for the status convention consult with the congressional committee on definitions and transition plans for the different status options, with Puerto Rico finally deciding its political future with a final vote”, the document expands.

The activists also highlight in the letter that the Constitutional Assembly of Status is in line with the course of action of self-determination that favors the President Joe Biden to solve the political problem of Puerto Rico, since it includes representatives of the different status options.

The Puerto Rican Legislature would be in charge of initiating the process to create the Convention, whose delegates must be elected by the Puerto Rican voters. The measure provides for a congressional negotiating commission to answer key questions about the status transition process such as the payment of federal taxes, language, among others.

This process has not been carried out in Puerto Rico, a “Free Associated State” not recognized by international law, despite the seven referendums promoted by the majority political parties and carried out since 1967.

“This body would develop a long-term solution for the status of Puerto Rico, whether it be statehood, independence, free association or any other option that is not the current territorial ordering,” Velázquez and Ocasio Cortez said in a column on NBC. shortly after introducing the legislation.

Governor of Puerto Rico and resident commissioner in Washington promote another bill

The governor of Pedro Pierluisi and the resident commissioner in Washington, Jennifer Gonzalez – Without the right to vote in Congress, they go for the opposite line to that of the Democrats and they made it clear during their administration in the federal Capitol this week.

Puerto Rican leaders supported the legislation of the Florida Representative Darren Sotofor the island to be admitted as a state of the union immediately.

Pierluisi traveled to the federal capital earlier this week to participate in the filing of the admission project that was submitted by González y Soto, named “Puerto Rico Statehood Admissions Act”.

The measure establishes that, if approved by Congress, Puerto Ricans on the island will participate in a federally binding election promoted by the local government to decide if the island should be immediately integrated as a 51st state of the United States. If the majority favors For statehood, the US president must confirm the results and set a date for the island to officially become a state.

The resident commissioner explained at a press conference in front of the Capitol that this is the first time that the Government of Puerto Rico formally requests the president and Congress to admit the island as a state. “This has never happened before. So I think that it is a crucial moment in history to make things happen”, stated González, who also highlighted the bipartisan nature of the bill.

It is not clear how the referendum held last November will be complemented, if at all, with the provisions of the bill presented in Congress.

The New York Journal He contacted Pierluisi’s press staff weeks ago to request an interview on this and other issues and this medium has not yet received a response to the request.

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