On Election day 2020, boricua voters were asked in a local, non-binding referendum: “Should Puerto Rico be immediately admitted to the Union as a state?” The “Yes” option won by 52.5% or 655,505 voters. “Even with five parties against the referendum, the US Department of Justice’s refusal to support this process and the pandemic, our people were clear and a majority elected state,” Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi, who was elected in November and belongs to the pro-state New progressive party (PNP), said. “Questioning and ignoring people̵
While the state won the referendum, Pierluisi himself obtained only 33% of the cabinet, the first time a major party candidate has not reached 40%. Both chambers of the Puerto Rican legislature are now controlled by his opposition, the pro-commonwealth party Democratic People’s Party (PPD). And the state candidate for pro-independence Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) locked in a historic 14% of the vote, a double-digit winner that the party had not achieved since the 1950s. Depending on who you ask, the results either indicate strong support for statehood separate from the island’s partisan policy – or they show that Puerto Ricans remain as divided as ever in terms of status issues.
Hugo Rodríguez, a former senator candidate for independence, said the referendum is not representative of what the boricuas want. “The United States has been here in Puerto Rico for more than a century, spreading federal money to many people and persecuting the independence movement,” he said. “After all that time, it has a small margin – only 53% for state life. This can not be seen as a victory for the state movement. ”
But strengthening Pierluisi’s case is that nearly two in three Americans support Puerto Rican statehood. Nationally, there is also more attention to the archipelago’s colonial status than ever before due to a series of cascade crises in recent years: the catastrophic Hurricane Maria with its 3,000 deaths and 139 billion $ In compensation, the downward economic spiral caused by the government debt crisis. , and a series of devastating earthquakes just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Locally, Puerto Ricans have revolted against the status quo: The ousted government of Ricardo Roselló in 2019, gave 30% support to minority candidates in the November election, and has forged networks of mutual aid to fill the void left by the government.
Democrats from the state, who are not surprisingly friendly to the idea of Puerto Rico as a 51st state, now have majorities in the House and Senate. And President Biden, who personally supports statehood, fought to work with representatives of every status opportunity to “engage in a just and binding process.”
Florida Democratic Rep. Darren Soto and Puerto Rico’s non-voting GOP Rep. Jennifer Gonzalez-Colón focuses on Biden’s personal beliefs statehood with the Puerto Rico Statehood Admissions Act. Their bill provides a straightforward path: Puerto Ricans would vote again on state life, but this time the election would be federally binding. The measure is supported by the entire Democratic delegation in Florida, home to over one million Puerto Ricans. The bill, which has bipartisan support in the House but not the Senate, offers a path similar to what Alaska and Hawaii followed to become states, Soto said. (González-Colón did not respond to a request for comment.)
Despite the fact that state formation has been part of the platform of the Democratic National Committee for almost a decade, the bill faces opposition from an important democrat. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said in recent months that he will not support a bill on statehood because the recent referendum showed “there is no consensus there is division” on the status issue. He added that he is concerned about local legislation that could speed up the process of Puerto Rico becoming a tax haven for the rich.
The other elephant in space is how hostile the GOP has been to the idea of Puerto Rican statehood. Republicans claim it would automatically mean adding two seats in the Democratic Senate, and the Conservatives would “never” gain control of the hall again. The consequence would be “socialism”. Despite this fear confusion, the GOP has supported making the island a state in its platform for the last two elections. In practical terms, the bill would require 60 votes to be passed in the Senate, and those are numbers that Soto and Gonzalez-Colón do not yet have. Two potential GOP allies, sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott from Florida, have said they prefer to make Puerto Rico a state, but have not yet signed the latest push. “They have to step up,” Soto said. “They were happy enough to count their support for state life as they ran for election and got votes from Puerto Ricans across the state. Now is the time for action. ”
Meanwhile, Hugo Rodríguez’s party, PIP, supports legislation put forward by New York reps Nydia Velázquez and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents the state with the second largest boricua settlement in the United States. United States, ”Rodríguez said. “We have to confront Congress with their responsibility to solve the problem.”
The AOC-backed Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act, which has been approved by over 80 progressive organizations, would create a “status convention” consisting of delegates elected by Puerto Rico voters. These delegates would be responsible for coming up with long-term alternatives to the island’s territorial status – whether it be statehood, independence, a free association or other options – and developing transitional plans for each. The options were put to the vote among the Puerto Rican people in a federally binding election. “This is not a general election, this is an election to end colonial rule,” the rep said. Velázquez. “It is an election that recognizes that it is inherent in the people of Puerto Rico to determine their political future.”
The action had about 30 more co-sponsors, including a Republican senator, than the state bill at the time of its introduction. “For decades, referendums and referendums have done more to delegitimize and undermine a process of self-determination than to promote it. They have been led unilaterally by a party without input from other duly elected parties and Congress, “said a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez.
A similar measure, creating a constitutional convention known as HR5, was introduced locally by the PPD pro-commonwealth in January. HR5 would not be binding and would require a choice to determine whether Puerto Ricans want to move forward with the self-determination process. Although the measure could potentially pass in the PPD-controlled legislature, it is unlikely that it will be signed into law by Government Pierluisi.