Aponte Hernández: US Congress close to approving statehood referendum
By John McPhaul
Veteran New Progressive Party lawmaker José Aponte Hernández said Monday that the U.S. Congress is moving toward offering Puerto Rico a consultation on statehood that eliminates the colony.
The pro-statehood leader also said the “imminent” congressional action has the speaker of the island House of Representatives, Rafael “Tatito” Hernández Montañez, as well as Senate President José Luis Dalmau, “running” to the U.S. capital so that nothing is done about the issue of the island’s political status.
“Today’s [Monday’s] news, where the speaker of the House asks, almost begs, the federal House of Representatives to bring to a vote the status bill of the Democratic congresswomen from New York, Nydia Velázquez and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which is not one of direct consultation with the people and intends to perpetuate the current colonial condition, is an attempt to divert the attention of federal officials before the movement of Congress in favor of a consultation for Puerto Rico without including the colony [as an option],” Aponte Hernández said.
The former House speaker’s statements arose after Hernández Montañez sent a letter to the chairman of the Natural Resources Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) requesting the approval of the House Bill 2070, authored by Velázquez and Ocasio-Cortez, which establishes that Congress would order a status convention (constituent assembly) in Puerto Rico and then a vote for non-territorial alternatives.
“There is not the slightest doubt that the actions of Hernández and Dalmau, the latter asking the chairman of the Natural Resources Committee in the federal House of Representatives, Raúl Grijalva, for more time on that same bill and that the colony be added, are the clear signs that they know very well that statehood is gaining traction among congressmen of both national parties (Republicans and Democrats) and that it is only a matter of time before consensus materializes for a referendum, endorsed by Congress, which will not include no unrealistic option, as is the case with the current colonial condition,” Aponte Hernández said.
“It is simply desperation on the part of the PDP [Popular Democratic Party] leadership, who have realized that the days of the colony are numbered,” he said. “No matter how much the Speaker of the House spends -- in public funds -- against the electoral mandate of the People of Puerto Rico in favor of statehood, our island will be admitted as a new state of the union, because the members of Congress know that as we are it does not work. I say to them, continue with your fight trying to show who has control of that dead one, the colony, as we continue to work for equality.”