The debate over the status of Puerto Rico has been going on for the last 112 years to no avail. The latetest attempt at reconciling the political status of the island came in the form of a bill passed by the house on April 29th called the Puerto Rico Democracy Act.
The Act, AKA “HR 2499” in short states the following:
HR 2499, as approved by the House, stipulates that Puerto Ricans will hold a plebiscite in for voters to choose whether to: a) “…continue to have its present form of political status” (in relation to the U.S.) or b) “…have a different political status.” If voters choose the second option, a second plebiscite is required to choose among four status choices: 1) Independence; 2) Sovereignty in Association with the United States; 3) Statehood or 4) Commonwealth, or status quo.
The National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights (NCPRR), the largest Puerto Rican civil and human rights organization in the United States has found some issues with the bill. They claim:
The bill is contradictory, since Puerto Ricans voting to change their status in the first stage, will still have to revisit the status quo option in a second vote, which completely undermines the purpose of the first stage vote.
They also complain that “ballots for the plebiscite will only be in English, despite constituting a potential a violation of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, which protects language minorities such as Puerto Ricans to receive ballots in their own language. ”
I have to say I kind of agree with NCPRR about their concerns with this. It sounds like poli-tricks. Just another stalling of an issue that needs a resolution. What’s also is confusing is the timing of this bill. The day after the bill was passed in the House of Representatives, nearly every media outlet dubbed it the “Statehood Bill.” Conservative commentators have spoken of the “impending” statehood of Puerto Rico, stirring anti-Hispanic rhetoric amidst the current immigration debates, and causing fear that the US will add two Puerto Rican senators and six members of the House through this legislation.
I agree that the senate should not vote this into law and instead find a better resolution of the status of Puerto Rico which would allow for the unification of the eight million Puerto Ricans who dividedly inhabit the United States. In doing this, they should propose legislation respecting the critical civil and human rights objectives at issue. Not just find another way to keep confusing the issue or stalling. All it does is keep us as a people divided on it, which seems to be their overarching goal. I don’t know about you but I’d like a new issue to fight over as a Puerto Rican in the United States.