Respect the will of the people of Puerto Rico
Reps. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), American citizens residing in a state – New York – in which they enjoy the rights, benefits and responsibilities of the full citizenship, have presented legislation in Congress undeserving of the will of the vast majority of the 3.2 million citizens of Puerto Rico. By proposing the undemocratic formula of a so-called state-of-the-status assembly – which would be conformed by an elite group of political leaders without the effective presence of the people – both congresswomen not only hinder the real and logical solution to Puerto Rico’s colonial problem, but they show no respect and dismiss as something of no importance the wishes overwhelmingly expressed, not once, but on three recent occasions by the voters of the territory of Puerto Rico. They demand the end of the prevailing colony by converting the territory into a state of the federal union, instead of encouraging the elitist position of the leaders of the current colonial regime, established in 1917 under the Jones Act, and by the name of Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (or Estado Libre Asociado) in 1952. Aware that they do not have the majority support of the people to maintain the current colonial status, in the case of the members of the Popular Democratic Party, nor to implement their separation of Puerto Rico from the United States, in the case of the independentists –Velázquez and Ocasio-Cortez should assert their power in the center of the plenary political authority over Puerto Rico, which is Congress, to respect the Puerto Rican majority decision.
Since the 1993 plebiscite, the current colonial regime has not enjoyed the support of Puerto Ricans, and consequently, we are governed by a minority regime. Precisely, facing the inertia of Congress in taking the necessary steps to respond to most American citizens residing in Puerto Rico, our people returned to the polls in 2012, adopting a strong and unequivocal position against the continuation of the colonial regime called “of the associate free state.” Fifty four percent of voters rejected the current political status and 62 percent expressed a preference for the option of political equality for the Puerto Rican U.S. citizens – that is, demanding Puerto Rico’s admission as the 51th state of our nation.
Again, in 2017, in another status consultation, a robust 97.13 per cent of voters chose political equality – enjoyed by Velázquez and Ocasio-Cortez – which is the ideal decolonizing option for Puerto Rico. That is the repeated mandate of Puerto Ricans who must be supported by both congresswoman in Congress. Meanwhile, here in Puerto Rico, it is up to Puerto Ricans to send to them and to the whole Congress their firm and energetic call for political equality for Puerto Rico by voting yes to statehood in the plebiscite on Nov. 3.
Carlos (Johnny) Méndez Núñez is Speaker of Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives.
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