González Colón makes pitch for statehood on floor of Congress
By John McPhaul
Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón made a pitch for statehood for Puerto Rico on the floor of Congress Thursday, saying that “on November 3rd, Puerto Rican voters made a clear choice to become a permanent part of this Union, to become a State on equal footing and with equal responsibility to the 50 states.”
“As was done in Alaska and Hawaii, voters were asked a straightforward question: ‘Should Puerto Rico be admitted as a State of the Union?’ A majority, 623,000 of those who cast ballots, voted YES,” the resident commissioner said. “Statehood gained more votes than any candidate or party ticket on the island. I was the most voted-for candidate islandwide, and statehood still received well over a hundred thousand more votes.”
González said the people of Puerto Rico have repeatedly voted to end the island’s territorial status. In 2012, voters answered “No” to the question on continuing the territorial status, and in all votes since then, the majority of ballots for a change have favored statehood.
“Ms. Speaker, the people of Puerto Rico have democratically chosen what their future should be. What is Congress waiting for?” she said. “It is our duty to respect the will of Puerto Rico. This is a direct mandate to move to statehood and it is Congress’ responsibility to do it.”
González said maintaining the current condition cannot be justified by any means.
“There are a lot of assumptions and false claims being made on both sides of the aisle on the issue of Puerto Rico statehood -- claims that are mistaken and only try to invalidate the will of the people,” she said. “The American citizens in Alaska and Hawaii were not met with proposals to try some other different solution or meet some special precondition, so why should we?”
González said Congress needs to respond to the Nov. 3 plebiscite vote to achieve the goal of getting Puerto Rico “a legal status where our American citizens stand on the same footing as those in the rest of the nation.”
“This is the right thing to do,” she said. “Inequality is not sustainable. For over a hundred years our young men and women have fought in America’s wars side by side with fellow citizens from all the states, under the orders of a commander in chief we cannot vote for. For decades, my predecessors and I, lacking a vote on the House floor, have had to plead, with no proportional delegation, against bureaucracy and against both open and tacit discrimination in federal programs and funding.”
The resident commissioner said Puerto Ricans have been a part of the great American family for over 120 years.
“Puerto Ricans are part of what makes the United States what it is today. At work and in schools, in literature, arts, sports, business, law, government, in communities in every state we contribute to the greatness of this nation, and we are proud of that Ms. Speaker -- we embrace being Americans, and we want to be looked at and treated as such by our own government system,” she said. “It is time to get to work to give the people of Puerto Rico the equality that has been long promised but denied. Let’s do it now.”