(April 14, 2021 – Washington, DC) – Today, Governor Pedro R. Pierluisi testified before the House Committee on Natural Resources in support of H. R. 1522 the “Statehood Admission Act” at the hearing entitled the “Insular Affairs Legislative Hearing on Puerto Rico Political Status”. In addition to the “Statehood Admission Act” the Committee considered H.R. 2070 “The Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act 2021”.
In his testimony, the Governor reaffirmed his commitment to defend the will of the people of Puerto Rico expressed on the November 3, 2020 straightforward yes or no plebiscite in which a clear majority voted in favor of statehood. He also reiterated his support for H.R. 1522 the “Statehood Admission Act”, a legislation, that if approved, would enable Congress to grant the terms and conditions by which Puerto Rico would be admitted as a state of the Union and for the first time offer statehood to the U.S. citizens on the Island. He also highlighted that the offer of admission could be accepted or rejected in a final referendum.
Governor Pierluisi explained that H.R. 1522 does not force or impose statehood on Puerto Rico; it only offers statehood, as the majority wants it, and provides a proven mechanism and the legal means for statehood. In his testimony, the Governor stated that statehood for Puerto Rico will translate into equal rights, responsibilities, full representation in the U.S. Congress, and equal treatment under all federal laws, policies, and programs. He also highlighted that Puerto Ricans would participate in the U.S. presidential elections to elect the leaders that implement the laws they live under.
On the other hand, he described H.R. 2070, the “Self-Determination Act”, as the farthest thing from self-determination presenting a convoluted process and including unknown options or choices that Puerto Rico’s voters have already rejected. Additionally, he stated that H.R. 2070 not only ignores the will of the people of Puerto Rico – who already voted in favor of statehood – but it aims to dictate to Puerto Ricans what their will should be. The Governor urged those who favor self-determination to support what Puerto Rico’s voters already freely determined, that they wish to be on equal footing with their fellow Americans.
The Governor highlighted how in its history Congress has not shied away from taking a stand, supporting what is morally correct in the face of injustice. He underlined how Congress, against great opposition, championed women’s right to vote, African Americans right to vote, and supported the civil rights movement. In his statement, the Governor urged members to stand on the right side of history and remind them of the thousands of Puerto Ricans who have bravely fought and died for our democratic ideals, while they cannot enjoy the rights for which they are fighting for.
“Today, we choose to stand on the right side of history, upholding the principles of democracy, fighting for equality, and respecting the will of the people of Puerto Rico. The time for excuses – of Congress not interfering, or that no option had a majority, or even that Puerto Ricans needed consensus – is over – members of Congress can no longer hide behind support for self-determination because our people spoke with their vote and chose statehood. And in a democracy, the majority wins.” said Governor Pierluisi.
“While I recognize that our Nation has much to do, this is not the first time that Congress has stood up, against great opposition, to ensure that we upheld the principles on which our Union was founded. History stands on the side of equality and democracy. This legislation (H.R. 2070) it’s the epitome of colonialism. We must come together and grant equality to the American citizens that live on the Island.” concluded Governor Pierluisi.
The Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, Hon. Steny Hoyer, thanked Governor Pierluisi for his strong leadership on the fight for statehood for Puerto Rico, “I am proud to cosponsor Rep. Soto’s legislation and participate in today’s hearing. Puerto Ricans deserve the opportunity to decide their own political status, and through multiple plebiscites they have consistently expressed a preference for statehood, which I have supported for more than thirty years. The people of the Island and of the mainland share a common purpose and common destiny as fellow Americans. Statehood would make certain that Puerto Rico is no longer shortchanged by the federal government when it comes to allocation of resources, full representation in Congress, as well as a more robust and rapid response during natural disasters. I thank Gov. Pierluisi for testifying at the hearing today and for his strong leadership in the fight for statehood and self-determination for Puerto Rico.”