In just a few days, the United States Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsPress: For Trump endorsement: The more sordid, the better Those predicting Facebook's demise are blowing smoke If bitcoin is 'digital gold,' it should be taxed like gold MORE needs to decide the fate of the $2.5 million allocation to Puerto Rico in order to fund an historic status referendum in which the U.S. citizens on the Island will chose between statehood and independence/free association, the only two valid and constitutional non territorial alternatives available to us.
The before mentioned options are the only ones which have been endorsed by the international community, at one time or another, since the middle of the 20th century. Both are also the only alternatives to end, once and for all, more than 129 years of colonial rule by the U.S. There are simply no other true decolonization options available to the people of Puerto Rico.
Last week, several U.S. senators issued a letter arguing against the above mentioned processes because they left out other status alternatives for the voters to evaluate. That statement was inaccurate and, furthermore, it was unconstitutional and contrary to the principles of fairness and transparency for which the U.S. has applied to its jurisdiction over the last 241 years.
The U.S. citizens residing in Puerto Rico are entitled to more than postponements or more delay tactics, we are entitled to a final resolution, which it will be in the form of the June 11 electoral exercise.
Furthermore, all three branches of the federal government have recognized that Puerto Rico is a non-incorporated territory, without any real political power or the ability to growth, hence the referendum does not include the present status.
Last year, a series of incredible developments shook the foundation of Washington regarding our political status.
First was the Executive Branch when in January 2016, then U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli argued that while Puerto Rico has some level of self-governance and its legislature has the power to pass several laws, the Island is still a territory subject to the plenary powers of Congress.
Then came a couple of landmark Supreme Court decisions. First came the much anticipated ruling regarding the famous Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle case. In its decision, the Nation’s highest court unequivocally concluded that, although the Island may have its own constitution, its own government, its own laws, and its own courts— it is not a true sovereign under the U.S. Fifth Amendment’s Double Jeopardy Clause.
The decision stated that Puerto Rico’s true and only real source of prosecutorial authority is the Congress. In her majority opinion, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan concluded that, for double jeopardy purposes, Puerto Rico is not a separate sovereign from the federal government. Again, we are a colony, the world’s oldest one.
The second ruling involved whether or not the local government could have implemented bankruptcy on its public corporations. In an historic decision, the Judges reiterated that Puerto Rico is not a State, nor does it have the legal framework to set laws related to bankruptcy procedures, that the Congress does not approve.
Finally Congress, approved H.R. 5278, better known as PROMESA, a comprehensive bill aimed at establishing an Oversight Board to assist the Government of Puerto Rico, including instrumentalities, in managing its public finances. PROMESA, which was brought about as a result of poor management by the local government, reaffirms Congress’ plenary powers over the Island and its almost 3.6 million U.S. citizens. In a nutshell, the passing of this historic bill accentuated the colonial nature of the political relation that currently exists.
There are simply only two path towards self-governing in Puerto Rico: statehood and independence/free associations; both are in the June 11 ballot.
I urge Secretary Sessions to immediately release the allocation of $2.5 million assigned to the U.S. Department of Justice in the Fiscal Year 2014-15 by then-President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaGOP infighting takes stupid to a whole new level Politics must accept the reality of multiracial America and disavow racial backlash To empower parents, reinvent schools MORE, with the objective of resolving the more than a century-old political limbo of the relation between Puerto Rico and the United States.
Jose Aponte-Hernandez is a state representative in Puerto Rico and is the former Speaker of the House for the territory.
The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.