Official Statement Chairman Carlos Romero-Barceló

(August 26, 2020-Washington, D.C.) – “Yesterday, Congresswomen Nydia Velázquez (D-NY-07) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14) two Democratic members of the New York delegation, proposed a bill for Puerto Rico to choose its political status through a constitutional convention whose rules would be prescribed by Congress. The bill is calling for a select few, a limited club of elites, to determine the future of the island. Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez has represented herself in New York and in the other 49 states as a spokesperson for the 3.3 Million U. S. citizens who reside in Puerto Rico, although she has never been voted for by them.  She has used the alleged support to gain political leverage in Congress. When Puerto Rico is admitted as a state, we will have four members of Congress and two Senators and Nydia Velázquez will lose her alleged representation. She will cease to be able to speak for the U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico.  

While the legislation she proposes, touts for “self-determination” and respect for the will of the people of Puerto Rico, it does just the opposite. The process she proposes would have rules and definitions prescribed by Congress and not by a democratic process of election by the American citizens who call the island home. A real “self-determination” process can only be achieved by the people of Puerto Rico casting their votes on a democratic process in an election like the referendum ordered to be held by Act 51-2020 on November 3rd, 2020.  The referendum ballot will read “Puerto Rico should be admitted as a state- Yes or No”. Exactly as the referendum held in Alaska and Hawaii and most, if not all, the territories admitted into the union. 

It is worth noting, as many have remarked, that the bill filed by Congresswoman Velázquez has the support of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) that has historically supported the colonial-territorial status of our island which they named “Commonwealth”, defending an option they can’t or won’t define and confusing many on the mainland. However, this is not surprising since Congresswoman Velázquez, prior to becoming a Congresswoman on the U.S. House of Representatives served as the New York Regional Director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs (PRFAA) office under Governor Rafael Hernández Colón (PDP), supporter of the colonial-territorial (Commonwealth). Congresswoman Velázquez, recently endorsed for Governor, for the PDP primary on the island, a candidate that actively supports the colonial-territorial status for Puerto Rico. 

However, I am surprised by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s decision to introduce this legislation when she ran on a campaign that fiercely defended the power of the people against the establishment and has publicly proclaimed the right of American citizens of Puerto Rico to demand equality. On one of her first’s videos, AOC states that she was born, like many Puerto Ricans, in a place where a zip code determines whether you are entitled to equality or not. It should be incumbent upon American citizens who live in Puerto Rico to determine the island’s political future and choose democratically and freely what status they support in an election. We don’t have to agree on the status option, but we can agree that the power to vote, the freedom to choose, is the basis of a democracy and that is precisely what America is about. I stand up to demand the right of the American citizens in Puerto Rico to equal political and economic rights and obligations, which like you once said, takes political courage. What has been accepted as a valid referendum to decide if a territory wants to be admitted as a state o not, must be accepted for Puerto Rico. In a referendum to decide “yes or no” to admission, everybody has a place to vote. They either demand to be admitted or not. 

After the 2017 hurricanes, the ongoing earthquakes, and the COVID-19 pandemic, Puerto Rico’s colonial-territorial status further exacerbated the unacceptable inequities and unjust treatment of the colonial territorial status.  I have made it my life’s goal to achieve equality for our island, with this in mind, I urge those who believe in democracy, in America, and in our right to choose, to support us and join our fight for equality.” 

###

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *