Resident commissioner: Biden presidency is ‘a chance for Puerto Rico to get up to date’
Says new VP Harris represents turning point for women’s rights
By Pedro Correa Henry
Special to The Star
After the inauguration of President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris went off without any disturbance despite lingering fears due to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump, Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón said Wednesday that she feels fortunate that things went according to plan as “it shows what makes the American nation great.”
In an interview with the STAR, González Colón said the next four-year term will begin with a year in which the Biden-Harris presidency will be able to recognize division and differences in the nation and take action as the country faces the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“It was a privilege to witness this inauguration,” González Colón said. “I consider Biden’s message was a message of unity, a message to work as a team, [to work] for a nation for everyone; in that sense, I feel like it’s a chance for Puerto Rico to get up to date in everything we have been requesting for so long.”
As for Harris becoming the first woman -- as well as the first person of South Asian descent and the first Black -- vice president, the re-elected island representative in Congress told the STAR that she felt satisfied and proud about the accomplishment.
“I had the opportunity to bring [then-Sen.] Kamala Harris to Puerto Rico after the hurricanes [Irma and Maria] and she is aware first-hand of the island’s needs,” González Colón said.
“[Harris becoming vice president] is the evidence that this nation is great, that America is for everyone. Seeing women like Lady Gaga, an immigrant’s daughter, Jennifer López, a Puerto Rican woman singing and speaking in Spanish, and [U.S. Supreme Court] Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who administered the presidential oath, we’re talking about different times.”
“Today’s inauguration takes a particular turn because it represents our fight as women, it’s recognizing that doors have opened,” she added. “What should be next is to see a woman becoming the president.”
As for the agenda that she advanced on Monday, the resident commissioner said she hasn’t been able to speak with either the president or vice president, but that she is keeping in contact with the Biden-Harris task force.
For his part, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said via a written statement that the event “represents the end of times of polarization.”
“My presence should remind the entire leadership of the United States government that we deserve dignified treatment as American citizens,” Pierluisi said.
He added that the “moment of equality has arrived” as he said he’ll be working together with González Colón to advocate for statehood following the results of the November statehood “Yes or No” plebiscite.
“Puerto Rico spoke out on November 3 and decided that it wants the same rights enjoyed by our brothers and sisters who reside in the states,” he said.
Pierluisi participated in a meeting at the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration office with Executive Director Carmen Feliciano and the resident commissioner “to outline coordinated strategies regarding the representation of priority issues in Puerto Rico” such as disaster relief funding disbursements and additional federal funds for health and education.
Likewise, the governor and the resident commissioner met with Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.) to “achieve equality for American residents of the island.”