Ex-House speaker contradicts PIP on island’s relationship with US

By John McPhaul

New Progressive Party (NPP) Rep. José Aponte Hernández said Sunday that the political relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States is a matter of civil rights within the same nation and not a matter of relations between separate nations, as stated by Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) gubernatorial candidate Sen. Juan Dalmau.

The former speaker of the House of Representatives also reiterated that Dalmau seeks to undermine the claim of the people, freely and democratically expressed in the statehood consultation on Nov. 3 where the “yes” option prevailed with 52.3 percent of support.

“Puerto Rico is a colony, the oldest colony in the world. Our nation, the United States, has to rectify that by asserting the will of the American citizens of the island, who on three occasions during the past eight years have voted for permanent union, for equality, for statehood,” Aponte Hernández said in a written statement. “That the PIP, which defended the option of ‘no,’ which was rejected by the majority of the people, now comes to try to bring independence in through the kitchen, claiming that Puerto Rico is a Latin American nation, is an incorrect and false act whose only purpose is to divert attention from the legitimate and official claim of statehood.”

“They want to minimize the 52.3 percent support for statehood, but imagine all the commotion that would be forming if they had obtained a meager 50.01 percent,” Aponte Hernández added. “They would have already proclaimed independence.”

In this way the pro-statehood leader responded to Dalmau, who in a series of letters sent to president-elect Joe Biden’s designated director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Julie Chávez Rodríguez, to his new spokesman for Hispanic affairs, Jennifer Molina, and Raúl Grijalva, who chairs the Natural Resources Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, said the issue of Puerto Rico is about a separate Latin American nation and its right to self-determination.

“Sen. Dalmau has to understand that Puerto Rico has already made its determination, and our people have already voted for statehood three times,” Aponte Hernández said. “If he does not like that determination, achieved in a free and democratic way, it is his business. The ‘no’ option that Dalmau and the PIP defended and campaigned for, lost. The people didn’t want it, the people want the security and equality that only statehood provides. Those letters are nothing more than a regrettable attempt to project what is not, wanting to make the loser the winner. They are also about trying to impose on the people what they do not want, independence. With them they want to confuse and delay the welfare of the people. To say that the lack of equality is not a matter of civil rights is the extreme of unconsciousness and a lack of respect for the people. These attitudes are something that we have and will continue to fight in all forums. The people spoke and we want statehood.”

“Dalmau talks a lot about the votes he got in the general election; because if those are legitimate for his candidacy, in the same way they are legitimate for statehood,” the veteran NPP lawmaker said. “You cannot say one thing yes and another no in a democracy. Statehood won, the people demand it and we are going to do everything possible to enforce this mandate.”

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