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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

NPP secretary general: Push for territorial incorporation is not without validity

New Progressive Party Secretary General Carmelo Ríos Santiago

By The Star Staff

New Progressive Party (NPP) Secretary General Carmelo Ríos Santiago said Tuesday that while he does not object to a proposal by a sector in the pro-statehood movement that seeks to convince U.S. lawmakers to make Puerto Rico an incorporated territory instead of a full-fledged state, he said the NPP already voted to support HR 8393, the legislation that seeks to end the island’s debate over status.

“The NPP assembly voted to support legislation to admit Puerto Rico as a state,” Ríos, who is also an NPP senator, told the STAR. “That does not mean I oppose any genuine effort from people who support statehood. But there is a mandate that we want equality as a state.”

A sector in the pro-statehood movement believes Puerto Rico is better off convincing the U.S. Senate to make Puerto Rico an incorporated territory rather than seeking statehood. There is opposition in the Senate to the approval of HR 8393, legislation that provides for a plebiscite to be held on Nov. 5 to resolve Puerto Rico’s political status. Specifically, the plebiscite will offer eligible voters a choice of independence, sovereignty in free association with the United States, or statehood.

Pro-statehood lawyer Gregorio Igartúa said the battle for statehood is in a stalemate in part because the Popular Democratic Party continues to press Congress for a status alternative that promotes inequality.

He said that while Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia and Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón have the best of intentions, the statehood movement needs to be more active. “We have to take a more definitive road,” Igartúa said. “The territorial incorporation would get independence and other status options out of the way and pave the way for statehood.”

He also urged the governor to create a statehood commission that can create a plan as to the steps it should follow.

Ríos said meanwhile that while asking U.S. lawmakers to make Puerto Rico an incorporated territory is “less strong” than asking for statehood, he asked, “Why should we make it easier for them?”

In December 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives approved HR 8393 with 233 votes in favor and 191 against. However, the bill does not have a chance in the Senate. Sen. Joe Manchin, who heads the committee overseeing statehood, reportedly said it is not on his committee’s agenda.

Ríos also noted that there “are two views about the legislation.” One view is that the House bill continues to the Senate and another is that new status legislation is needed because it is a new congressional session, with Republicans taking majority control of the House, albeit by a slim margin.

“I tend to believe we have to start again because it is a new Congress,” he said.

In that regard, Ríos noted that President Biden is expected at a winter meeting to reaffirm his support for statehood, which he believes may convince lawmakers to pass the bill.

“I also hope the resident commissioner also does her job to convince Republicans,” he said.

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1 Comment

Ed Lewis
Ed Lewis
Feb 08, 2023

You are either incorporated territory or you are not incorporated. Once you are incorporated, you can NEVER reverse the process. This faces the same hurdles (or more) than statehood. The powers will not approve in our lifetime.

A better angle is the challenge to the Insular Laws. Even the Supremes think that is a good target.

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