Washington - Although the measure is blocked this Congress session, for the Equality Commission the bill Democrat Darren Soto (Florida) introduced seeking to make Puerto Rico a state with just a three-month transition process, is among the "many victories" that commission achieved last year.
“It´s undeniable that resolving the political status of Puerto Rico is an issue currently being discussed at the highest levels of government as well as in the media,” wrote the chairman of the Commission, former governor Pedro Rosselló González, in presenting Equality Commission annual report.
Sixteen Democrats and five Republicans support Soto´s bill.
According to the members of the Equality Commission, part of the efforts in favor of the statehood proposal include, among other things, a people's forum in Florida, meetings with 12 senators and 62 House representatives, and presentations in the U.S. media.
The document was delivered to the government of Puerto Rico on June 30, days before the Telegram chat scandal came to light.
As the New Progressive Party (PNP) was turning its back to Ricardo Rosselló Nevares, his father, Rosselló González resigned from the Equality Commission and the party on July 21, upset by the fact that the PNP leadership and his colleagues in the Commission rejected his son.
The report, delivered to both the former governor and the chairs Puerto Rico's House and Senate, also stands out for not including expressions - mainly from the government of Donald Trump and the Senate Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell, against statehood.
The document includes Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) hearing, held in Boulder, Colorado on October 5, 2018 where they discussed the complaints filed by Rosselló González and attorney Gregorio Igartúa alleging that the United States violates the human rights of Puerto Rico's residents by not allowing them to vote for President or for Congress members.
The report mentions Rosselló Gonzalez's presentation before the IACHR. However, it does not refer to the presentation made by the U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), Carlos Trujillo, who on behalf of the Trump government told the IACHR that the U.S. government does not consider that statehood won the 2012 and 2017 local plebiscites, and that, on the contrary, the U.S. government does not see consensus in Puerto Rico about the island´s political future.
Nor does the report include that in September 2018 President Trump gave an absolute no to statehood and that last June McConnell warned that as long as he leads the Senate Republican majority he will not give way to any bill seeking statehood for Puerto Rico or WashingtonD.C., proposals he links to the Democrats and their interest in controlling Congress.
Another significant omission is what Republican Representative Rob Bishop (Utah) warned in November 2018, that Puerto Rico must hold a "statehood: yes-or-no" referendum to move forward the debate in Washington, since the U.S. Department of Justice could not validate the 2017 results in time and that has enabled the opposition to challenge them.
According to the Equality Commission report, part of the efforts has been focused on seeking alliances with U.S. organizations.
The report highlights that Charlie Rodríguez, one of only two members of the Commission who did not turn his back to former Governor Rosselló Nevares, focused his efforts on contacting "Puerto Rican and Hispanic allies" in Central Florida. In that section, the report notes that the Tampa City Council passed a resolution in favor of statehood in a 7-0 vote.
Meanwhile, the report also adds that Alfonso Aguilar was in charge of working to support statehood on behalf of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), whose national board, despite temporarily setting aside its summer 2018 resolution backing statehood, decided October 2018, to reaffirm its "strong support" for that status alternative for the island. Aguilar, like the other Republicans on the commission, was the most vocal in calling for the resignation of former Governor Rosselló Nevares.
Aguilar has also been the liaison with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which has supported statehood for years, according to the report.
The document includes recent polls showing that a majority of voters in Florida and New York favor statehood for the island.