Governor marks July 4th with call for ‘complete’ US citizenship for islanders
By The Star Staff
In commemoration of the 247th anniversary of the founding of the United States of America, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia reiterated Tuesday that the democratic rights of freedom and equality, based on the common well-being of the people, is an evolution that must continue and be fully extended to the millions of American citizens residing in Puerto Rico.
“We, the majority of Puerto Rican men and women, are not willing to accept half a citizenship. We want it complete for everyone,” Pierluisi said from the Plaza Paseo del Mar in Cataño, where the central government’s official July 4th commemoration took place. “We are going to continue fighting for that equality, for our soldiers and veterans, for our most vulnerable citizens, for our young and old, for our working class, for our companies, and to have the right to vote for president and have voting representation in Congress.”
The governor, accompanied by host mayor Julio Alicea Vasallo, stressed that a large part of the rights achieved in the American nation are due to the Puerto Rican soldiers who have worn and continue to wear the uniform of the U.S. armed forces and that “liberty, equality, and justice are fought for and demanded, not given up.”
“I have said it and I repeat it, it takes guts to risk and give your life for the principles of freedom and equality that the American nation represents,” Pierluisi said. “But the Puerto Rican guts are even more extraordinary because they come from a man or a woman who gives everything for their nation, without their nation treating them with the equality and respect they have earned.”
During his address, the governor highlighted other contributions that Puerto Rico makes to the United States and how being part of the nation as a state would greatly benefit the island’s millions of residents. As an example, he noted that Puerto Rico, through science, engineering, politics, art, sports, local production, shopping, companies and with tax contributions, contributes to the socioeconomic development of the U.S.
Regarding the protection and services that Puerto Rico has received from the United States since 1898, Pierluisi pointed out how federal laws and the U.S. Constitution, and the defense of the rights to free expression and free association protect the island. Puerto Rico also receives resources for security against crime, drug trafficking and corruption, and assistance in the reconstruction process, he said. Likewise, the United States supports citizens’ health, nutrition, education and retirement with federal funds and initiatives.
However, Pierluisi said that despite the advances in American democracy in such areas as the right to vote, this evolution must continue and extend to the island, preserving Puerto Rican culture and tradition.
“We Puerto Ricans want Puerto Rico to become a state so that our government belongs to the people; we want to vote for the president and have equal representation in Congress so that our government is by the people; and we want the actions of that government and that nation to also seek the benefit of the American citizens who live in Puerto Rico and so be for the people,” the governor said.
Alicea Vasallo, the Cataño mayor, took the opportunity in his welcome message to call for “the right to equality not to be yielded; it is fought for and demanded, firmly, not half-heartedly,” he said in a reference to the struggle to achieve statehood for the island.
“On this day, brothers and sisters and visitors, I invite you to reflect, to continue tirelessly waging the good fight for equality, for justice for American citizens like you, like me, like our children and their children, who inhabit this precious and beloved Borincan soil, to enjoy here the same rights that protect our citizens of the 50 states of the federation of the United States of America,” he added.
The mayor also urged the unity of purpose of all to achieve the common goal of equality for those who reside in Puerto Rico.
“It is up to our elected leaders to fulfill the mandate of this city, when 60% of the Catañeses people voted for the admission of the island as a federated state in the plebiscite held in 2020,” Alicea Vasallo said. “It is NOT time to divert attention, but rather to call for unity in our government to fulfill the sacred vow of our statehood-seeking brothers and sisters.”
The 4th of July celebration was dedicated to the Puerto Rico Department of Disabled American Veterans in honor of the organization’s 50th anniversary. Secretary of State Omar Marrero Díaz read the Proclamation and Dedication of the Act, which Cmdr. Delvis Collazo Rivera accepted. Disabled American Veterans is an organization dedicated to supporting and assisting disabled veterans.
At the Cataño event, Brig. Gen. Collazo Rivera read the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America. Subsequently, from El Morro in Old San Juan, the Puerto Rico National Guard gave the so-called “Salute to the Canyon,” and a group of agencies participated in the traditional July 4th parade.
Likewise, the Mita Congregation Band was present and the group Voice 21 interpreted the official hymns.
During the afternoon, at the Condado Lagoon, a musical show with Atención Atención, Limi T-21, Sonora Ponceña, and the Puerto Rico Concert Band directed by maestro Cucco Peña was slated. The event was to conclude with a light show over the lagoon.