(June 1, 2020 -San Juan, P.R.) –Members of Puerto Rico’s Shadow Congressional Delegation, known as the Equality Commission, sent a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives and to the Senate urging them to support the upcoming “Yes or No” Statehood Plebiscite on November 3, 2020. On May 16, 2020, Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced signed Law 51-2020 in an effort to end the geographical discrimination against the U. S. citizens who live in Puerto Rico. This bill has the endorsement of the Equality Commission, the New Progressive Party (PNP), Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner and Washington Representative, Congresswoman Jenniffer González Colón, President of the State Senate, Thomas Rivera Schatz, and President of the State House, Carlos ‘Johnny’ Méndez Núñez.
In its letter, the shadow U. S. Senators and the shadow members of the House of Representatives highlight Puerto Rico’s historical colonial-territorial relationship to the United States, emphasizing the unequal treatment of the 3.2 million U.S. citizens residing on the island. Additionally, the letter mentions thousands of U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico who have proudly served in the Armed Forces and are currently unable to vote for the President of the United States, their Commander-in-Chief. Furthermore, it outlines several arbitrary policies of Congress and the President in the nation’s political and economic relationship with Puerto Rico as a territory, that limit the island’s opportunity to maximize its economic potential.
The letter highlights that for the first time, the options on the ballot will be “yes” or “no” and will have the same wording as those used in the plebiscites of Alaska and Hawaii. How can anyone claim that the “yes” or “no” plebiscite in Puerto Rico is unconstitutional?
It is important to point out that independence as an option, has never received more than 5.5% of the vote in previous plebiscites. A “Yes” or “No” vote will enable voters who are opposed to statehood to freely and democratically express their political opposition, creating an equal right for all voters to cast a ballot supporting or opposing statehood. If Puerto Rico were to become a state, based on its current population, it would be entitled to four Members of Congress and two Senators, plus equal political and economic rights with our fellow citizens in the 50 states.
All shadow Senators and Members of Congress will continue to advocate for the equality for the 3.2 million U.S. citizens residing in Puerto Rico. Women, African-Americans and LGBTQ’s have been recognized as entitled to equality. How can Congress and the President keep searching for excuses to justify their geographic discrimination against their fellow citizens who live in Puerto Rico? After one hundred and three (103) years of disenfranchisement as U. S. citizens, we are tired of waiting for equality. We demand statehood now!