Last week, supporters of the Puerto Rico Status Act (HR 8393) assembled in Washing to advocate on behalf of the proposal. Activities began with a march to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. which highlighted the role of Puerto Rican service to the U.S. military.
Later in the day, Governor Pedro Pierluisi and Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR) held a press conference in support of the bill. They were joined by Puerto Rico state senator Keren Riquelme; former Speaker of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives José Aponte; members of the Shadow Delegation; citizens advocates, including veterans; and elected officials from Puerto Rico.
The bill calls for a binding plebiscite among statehood, independence, and free association, which is a form of independence. It promises to end Puerto Rico’s territory status and give the choice of a more democratic future political status to the voters in Puerto Rico.
Governor Pierluisi said, “It is a bill that is fair, that is correct. The time has come to put an end to colonialism.” He spoke about the numbers of Puerto Ricans who fought to defend the United States during World War II and the inequality faced by veterans. “We are demanding equal treatment, not special treatment.”
“I’m very proud to stand with this group of leaders, veterans, and advocates, most of them my constituents from Puerto Rico, to support and call for passage of H.R. 8393, the Puerto Rico Status Act,” said González-Colón. “I was proud to work alongside colleagues to draft a compromise bill that puts us on a clear and definitive path towards solving the Island’s political status dilemma. As Puerto Rico’s sole representative in Congress, I will continue fighting for the Island’s 3.2 million Americans and our quest to end over one hundred years of inequality and second class citizenship.”
Progress of the bill
HR8393 was approved by the House Committee on Natural Resources. It has 45 cosponsors as of this writing, including 9 Republicans.
Pierluisi said in a TV appearance that he expected the bill to go to the floor of Congress for a vote before the end of the month. Asked during the press conference about whether the bill is high enough priority to be fitted in, he said that the bill is crucial. Holding a territory against its expressed will in a colonial relationship, he said, should be very embarrassing for the United States.
Gonzalez-Colon pointed out, “The people of Puerto Rico have voted for equality, they have voted for statehood and it is up to the United States Congress to uphold the position of 3.2 million American citizens in Puerto Rico.”
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