A new way of governing in Puerto Rico
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More than two weeks ago, the American citizens residing in the U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico selected a new path of governing. Out went the old ways, when the state government ignored the will of its people, expending the few resources it had in a massive lobbying effort against the results of the 2012 status referendum in which 54 percent of the voters rejected the current territorial status. It is important to mention that in the same electoral process, the voters selected statehood as a final political relation with the U.S.

The voters also wanted transparency in public service, something they did not get with the soon-to-be past administration, and thus on Nov. 8 came a thunderous response: the voice of the people, expressed in the ballot box, pleaded for change and change it got.

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Come January, this U.S. Territory will have new leadership. A new form of governing based on the people and for the people. We heard the strong voice of our electorate. They gave us a mandate to make a different path. That ‘new way of governing starts with the admission of Puerto Rico as our Nation’s newest State.

For this, we will work hard with the new administration of President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Trump believes Kushner relationship with Saudi crown prince a liability: report Christine Blasey Ford to be honored by Palo Alto City Council MORE, as well as with the newly reelected Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPelosi, Schumer: Trump 'desperate' to put focus on immigration, not health care Trump urges Dems to help craft new immigration laws: ‘Chuck & Nancy, call me!' Sanders, Harris set to criss-cross Iowa MORE (R-Wis.) and the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats slide in battle for Senate McConnell and wife confronted by customers at restaurant Pelosi, Schumer: Trump 'desperate' to put focus on immigration, not health care MORE (R-Ky.).

The governing platform of the GOP, adopted in the party’s national convention this past July, and ratified by the voters in the general election, states that the Republican Party will respect and promote the will of the people of Puerto Rico, free and democratically expressed in the before mentioned status referendum.

The admission of Puerto Rico will be at the forefront of our legislative effort, but we will also tackle many important issues, including economic development, affordable healthcare for our people and a new educational system that leaves no one behind. All of this will be done with a new transparency in governing.

Education is near the top of our agenda, particularly, paying increased attention to the needs of the students with disabilities. It is for this reason that I undertook the step of creating a new, permanent committee in the State House of Representatives to work specifically with this matter, reflecting its importance to our society.

We will also need to find ways to solve one of our Nation’s biggest healthcare problems. In 2011, the Island received almost $5.4 billion, through the Affordable Health Care for America Act, better known as ObamaCare, to provide healthcare coverage to almost 1.2 million Puerto Ricans, up to September 2019. Five years later, the number of people insured by the local government has reached 1.6 million and the federal funds available for the program roughly reaches the $1.8 billion plateau.

Several studies have shown that if the federal government does not act, the original allocation will be depleted by next summer, two years earlier than anticipated. Add to this a repressed employment market and an economy that has been in recession since the third quarter of 2005, and the problems that we face doubled exponentially.

The ‘new way’ of governing starts with these issues but extended to all aspects of our society, that is why we need to become a facilitator to our people. That’s the new way.

Carlos "Johnny" Mendez is the newly elected Speaker of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives.


The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.