Puerto Ricans demand an end to territory status

Congress last approved Puerto Rico status legislation during the first two years of the Obama administration. After failing to pass the Senate, the territorial government of Puerto Rico decided to hold their own version of the proposed plebiscite in 2012 — 54% of voters rejected the current territorial status for the first time in the history of Puerto Rico.

In November of 2020, Chairman Raúl Grijalva joined 21 House Democrats to recognize Puerto Rico’s 2012 vote against the current territorial status and accused the Trump administration of being “disingenuous” for failing to acknowledge it.

Why now? A unique window of opportunity

The Democrats pulled off an electoral miracle in Georgia, securing a simple majority in the Senate and giving them full control of the federal government. Only by consolidating Democratic support behind a single bill for Puerto Rico can we hope to resolve the archipelago’s status problem in the next two years.

Republican leadership has made it extremely clear that statehood for Puerto Rico, or status resolution for that matter, is not a priority. Risking a Republican takeover would almost ensure the continuation of the archipelago’s colonial status for years to come.

Puerto Rico's economy

According to a 2011 Report by the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status, “identifying the most effective means of assisting the Puerto Rican economy depends on resolving the ultimate question of status.”

Since then, Congress has taken no action on any bill related to status, while wasting no time to implement sweeping austerity measures through the passage of PROMESA. It is, quite simply, unacceptable to keep focusing on patchwork solutions without addressing the fundamental issue of Puerto Rico’s political relationship with the United States.