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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Pro-statehood attorney calls PR a ‘de facto incorporated’ US territory in local court filing

By The Star Staff

In an unusual move, Gregoria Igartúa, a pro-statehood attorney, submitted in local court this week a filing whose heading said “commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a de facto incorporated territory of the U.S.” instead of just commonwealth of Puerto Rico as is customary.

Igartúa said he did not violate any of the civil procedure laws.

“The document was stamped by the court’s secretary,” he said.

He shared the document with the STAR but left out the names of the parties because the matter relates to a divorce proceeding.

The pro-statehood attorney used the wording to emphasize that Puerto Rico is in fact an incorporated territory of the U.S. in transit to statehood and not just an unincorporated territory, a thesis he has defended in the courts and in Congress. He noted that not only do all federal laws apply in Puerto Rico, but the island also pays over $3 billion in U.S. taxes.

He told U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) in June of last year to declare Puerto Rico an incorporated territory, “which de facto it is.”

“Congress has assimilated us gradually since 1898 into a federalist relation to be like a de facto incorporated territory,” Igartúa said.

The STAR contacted the island’s courts last week regarding the filing but did not get a response.

The island’s relationship to the United States is slated to take a front seat this year as a result of the recent plan of adjustment to restructure some $33 billion in debt.

On Oct. 13, Oct. 21 and Nov. 2, 2021, the Title III bankruptcy court certified to the U.S. attorney general various challenges to the constitutionality of the Plan of Adjustment for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Public Building Authority, and the Employee Retirement System, that has been proposed by the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA).

U.S. Acting Assistant Attorney Brian Boynton and Stephen Muldrow, a U.S. attorney, last week informed the court that the United States will defend the constitutionality of PROMESA.

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