• The Star Staff

Velázquez, Ocasio-Córtez file bill to resolve Puerto Rico’s debate over status

By The Star Staff

U.S. Reps. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Córtez (D-N.Y.) announced in an op-ed piece earlier this week that they have introduced legislation that seeks to resolve Puerto Rico’s debate over its status.

In a piece published by NBC on Tuesday, the lawmakers said the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act, if approved, would instruct Puerto Rico’s Legislature to establish a so-called status convention that would explore and develop a long-term solution for the status of the U.S. territory, be that statehood, independence, free association or any option other than the current territorial arrangement.

They noted that Puerto Rico’s problems and others stem from its unique, longstanding colonial status, which has resulted in the island’s residents being treated as second-class citizens.

“The time to remedy this situation has come, but it must be done correctly. Puerto Rico needs to be afforded the freedom to design its own future,” they wrote. “That’s why the two of us, both members of Congress of Puerto Rican descent, have introduced the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act.”

The members of the convention would be elected by commonwealth voters, they noted.

Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón said in a statement that she does not support Velázquez and Ocasio-Córtez’s bill. She said the bill by the two representatives from New York demonstrates a lack of respect for the people of Puerto Rico and the democratic process in the territory.

“This proposal rejects the equality of Puerto Ricans and our desire to become a state,” González Colón said. “What my colleagues are proposing is to live as a colony permanently.”

“The bill would delay resolving the fundamental issue of the territory — and the economic benefits that equality would bring — for years,” she added.

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