Skip to comments.Puerto Rico Democratic boss: Party 'cannot support' AOC/Velazquez status bill
Posted on 09/08/2020 11:24:23 AM PDT by SJackson
Puerto Rico Democratic Party Chair Charles Rodríguez on Friday called on congressional Democrats to oppose a bill proposed by New York Democratic Reps. Nydia Velázquez and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to decide the territory's status through a convention.
"The proposed legislation allows a group of delegates to decide and impose an option. In a democracy, we should trust the people to make their own decisions rather than rely on a selected few to decide for the people," wrote Rodríguez.
The Velázquez/Ocasio-Cortez bill has pulled Congress into the island's core political debate, which defines party affiliation at a local level.
In his letter, Rodríguez lauded the Velázquez/Ocasio-Cortez bill, which has been embraced by the left-leaning Popular Democratic Party, for taking "steps to pursue a resolution to Puerto Ricos centuries-old colonial problem by introducing legislation that addresses this issue."
"We agree with them that Puerto Ricos current unequal and undemocratic status is simply unsustainable," wrote Rodríguez.
But Rodríguez panned the core of the proposal, which he said the island's Democrats "cannot support as currently drafted."
Rodríguez and the New Progressive Party (PNP), a pro-statehood coalition of moderate Democrats and the island's Republicans, have been especially critical of the proposal's timing, as a yes/no referendum on Puerto Rico statehood will be on November's ballot.
"We urge you to encourage voter participation in the upcoming referendum called by the elected officials on the island who ran on a platform that guaranteed the people their right to vote to determine their future political status," wrote Rodríguez.
"The upcoming referendum will provide a voice to our people and constitutes a valid form of self-determination," he added.
The November referendum will be the third since 2012. In 2012 and 2017, statehood won by wide margins, but the votes were marred by low participation and a lack of federal endorsement.
Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced (R) was unable to get the Department of Justice to approve the statehood question on the ballot for 2020. Vázquez Garced will not be on the ballot, after losing the PNP primary to former Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi (D).
Still, a strong showing for statehood could prove difficult for members of Congress particularly Democrats to ignore.
Statehood proponents have been on the offensive since 2016, when the U.S. Supreme Court decided a case known as Sánchez Valle, affirming Puerto Rico's status as a territory under the constitution.
Opponents of statehood for decades had argued in favor of maintaining the "free associated state" a hybrid sovereign status decried by statehood supporters as a Cold War relic which lost its appeal after Sánchez Valle.
"It's called a territory but we are a colony. It was named the free associated state, it was falsely alleged at the United Nations that we had autonomy," said Carlos Romero Barceló, one of the founders of the PNP, in a recent interview with The Hill.
Under the Velázquez/Ocasio-Cortez bill, the Status Convention "would develop a long-term solution for Puerto Ricos status, be that statehood, independence, free association or any option other than the current territorial arrangement," wrote the two congresswomen in an essay presenting their plan.
A spokesman for Velázquez was critical of the letter.
Anyone familiar with Puerto Rican politics knows this letter is just a thinly veiled attempt to myopically push for statehood. The legislation the Congresswoman authored provides an inclusive, truly democratic mechanism for resolving the status issue by allowing delegates duly elected by the Puerto Rican people to formulate a proposal that could then be ratified in a direct election by the Islands residents. Thats why progressives are rapidly coalescing around the bill to the consternation of those virulently opposed to any approach except statehood, said a spokesman for Velázquez.
Ocasio-Cortez's office did not immediately return a request for comment on this story.
Rodríguez decried their proposal, saying it would further delay resolution on Puerto Rico's status, and because such a convention could eventually impose a solution only supported by a minority, or maintain the current structure.
"In the end, the proposed bill creates a convoluted process which would ultimately delay a status resolution, as Congress would not have any commitment to act on the results, thus perpetuating current unincorporated territorial status," wrote Rodríguez.
The current status, once defended by its proponents as an appropriate middle ground between sovereignty and political proximity to the United States, has lost its luster as Puerto Rico essentially declared bankruptcy and Congress enforced its sovereignty over the territory's finances in 2016.
But both parties have remained split on Puerto Rico's sovereign status, accusing each other of using the debate as a proxy to gain political power.
Romero Barceló criticized Velázquez for proposing the bill, saying she "intends to put [status] in the hands of a small, select group."
"She has used Puerto Rico to acquire power in Congress," said Romero Barceló. "Nobody votes for her here."
And Romero Barceló said Ocasio-Cortez is "confused," because "she said she believed in the right for equality for all Puerto Ricans."
"The only way equality can be achieved is through statehood," he added.
But Federico de Jesús, a political consultant and former deputy director for the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, said November's referendum is marred by the current PNP administration's "corruption and mismanagement."
Pelosi, Schumer warn GOP coronavirus bill 'headed nowhere' Celebrities offer exclusive experiences in campaign to mobilize young... Vázquez Garced became governor in 2019 after the resignation of former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló (D) over a series of scandals involving misogynistic language in group chats, and has herself been the subject of corruption allegations.
"Many fear the referendum is a ploy to get the statehood vote out to get the PNP to win," said de Jesús.
"They hope it papers over all of the mismanagement and all of the scandals," he added.
“In a democracy, we should trust the people to make their own decisions rather than rely on a selected few to decide for the people,” wrote Rodríguez”.
1. Rodriguez sees true.
2. AOC will want to get rid of Rodriguez.
Hidden underneath in PR: they like being on the dole. They get money, without being accountable.
PR would soon be A Cuban satellite and a Venezuelan puppet!................
You Are Right!
The Dem politicians do, but most Puerto Ricans don’t. They do very well in the US - even the impoverished ones brought in to NYC and other places as labor during WWII - because like most Hispanics they’re very entrepreneurial.
PR was getting better, and then left kicked out the Navy base, which was a great job and prosperity provider, and also of course supported many small businesses.
Because of the odd status of PR, the leftist state employee unions have a lot of power there, and they’ve relentlessly prevented any attempt to improve PR.
The last time PR had a GOP governor, he did a great job and they were very happy with him...he was defeated, although only narrowly, by the SEIU.
PR would soon be A Cuban satellite and a Venezuelan puppet!.”
Better they do that as an independent country than as a US state.
Free Puerto Rico!
Puerto Rico periodically holds plebiscites to determine the will of the people as to the status of the island. They can choose independence, statehood, or remain as is. Every time the people choose to keep the status as it is.
Independence, when I was there in the 60’s, came in around 0.1%. Statehood, favored by the PR Republicans, came in second, well behind the “as is.”
TY for the further insight.
Clinton also changed the tax on companies (lot of pharmaceutical) in PR.
They left and probably went to China.
When I was there in the 60’s the Puerto Ricans hated the Cubans. The very small group of independistas were the revolutionaries (much like today;s antifa) and they dynamited communication towers and causeed havoc every once in a while. They were small in numbers but a dangerous threat. They were heavily supported with arms and explosives from Cuba whose commandos brought boatloads of munitions into hidden beaches.
The Puerto Ricans I met in my work and in the community were pro-American, some veterans, and mighty good people.
Puerto Rican statehood would mean more Democratic voters, more Democratic votes in Congress and the Electoral College.
I served with a lot of NYC Puerto Ricans in the Marines, early 70s...............
That way it will remain in the current status forever.
The smart thing to do would be to have the first three-way ballot, and then have a second ballot between the two top vote getters. However, this might result in them deciding to be a state, and this would require Puerto Rico's leaders to be smart.
The last time they held one of those plebiscites I believe the three options were almost tied. They each came out between 30 and 40%. I might be wrong though.
They’ve voted several times but statehood has never won a majority of the electorate. Last time the anti-statehood people (unwisely in my opinion) boycotted the referendum.
Yes, thats very true...PR was our major pharmaceuticals manufacturing site until Clinton destroyed that. And yes, most of the companies did then go to China (or India).
One of the things that I read upon the outbreak of this virus was that many people in the medical world wished that we still had pharmaceuticals manufacturing in PR, which was both closer and had quality control.
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