Democrat criticizes Ocasio-Cortez bill: ‘All Puerto Ricans should have a say’

Stefani Reynolds

A bill recently co-introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) that seeks to address the future of Puerto Rico has sparked criticism among Puerto Rican members of Congress. 

The bill, introduced Tuesday by Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), seeks to determine the U.S. territory’s sovereign status through a “status convention,” as opposed to the referendums preferred by proponents of statehood.

“The legislation that would prompt Puerto Rico’s Legislature to create a Status Convention whose delegates would be elected by Puerto Rican voters,” wrote the two lawmakers in an essay published on NBC News Think.

Rep. Jose Serrano, another Puerto Rican New York Democrat, on Tuesday, expressed skepticism on the bill, tweeting that the decision to change the island’s status “is too important to be left behind closed doors” and “all Puerto Ricans should have a say.”

Ritchie Torres, a New York City councilmember who won the Democratic primary in the race to succeed Serrano, echoed the retiring congressman’s sentiments.

“Wise words from a public servant of incomparable integrity. I am honored to continue your tradition of advocating for true self-determination through direct elections. All Puerto Ricans, not simply party insiders, should have a voice and a vote!” Torres, whose father is Puerto Rican, tweeted.

In their op-ed, Ocasio-Cortez and Velázquez noted that previous referendums “were marred by voting irregularities and dismal participation.”

Puerto Rico will have another yes-no referendum on statehood on the ballot in the November general election. That ballot initiative has not been approved by the Department of Justice, making the results nonbinding. 

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Jose Serrano New York Puerto Rico Puerto Rico statehood U.S. territory
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