Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González. (GFR Media) (semisquare-x3)
Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González. (GFR Media)

Baltimore – Yesterday, after reviewing its most recent resolution, the Board of the National Association for the Advancement ofColored People (NAACP) reiterated its "strong support" for statehood and confirmed its endorsement for Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González´s bill.

 However, the NAACP National Board eliminated the reference to the June 2017 plebiscite and that statehood had obtained an overwhelming support of 97 percent.

The NAACP leadership -the main African-American organization for civil rights-, maintained the part in which they affirm that Commissioner González’s bill 6246 "is a major step towards realizing the democratic will of the U. S citizens of Puerto Rico, establishing a transition process that would result in the formal admission of Puerto Rico as a state of the United States."

The organization also reaffirmed the call to its members to learn about "the history and diversity of the Puerto Rican people, the vast majority of whom are US citizens" and the challenges they face specially before the "slow and inadequate response of the federal government" to the emergency unleashed by Hurricane María.

The original resolution was approved on July 17, just after Governor Ricardo Rosselló addressed the group at the NAACP convention in San Antonio, Texas.

But, it was rescinded hours after its approval last July, when NAACP leaders expressed doubts on the turnout of the 2017 plebiscite and questioned it was voted without the possibility of amendments.

Then, NAACP declared its support "to the democratic value of self-determination" and that Puerto Rico "should be free to decide its preferred option in a fair and inclusive manner.".

Yesterday, NAACP Senior Vice President for Advocacy and  Policy, Hilary Shelton, as spokesperson for the organization, said that by amending the resolution they took into account that they had already expressed their support for statehood in 2017, in a resolution that referred to the results of the plebiscite.

 Shelton indicated that they consider statehood to be the preferred alternative for the island's residents and - without getting into the issue of concrete results this time - that the 2017 plebiscite was "legal."

"Right now, the option for Puerto Rico to move towards statehood or anything else, is on the table. We support statehood if the people of Puerto Rico support statehood. If it becomes clear that Puerto Rico changes its mind, we will support the Puerto Rican people in their search for self-determination," he said, in an interview with El Nuevo Día, minutes before the resolution was approved, at a meeting of the NAACP Board in Baltimore.

The resolution strongly supports the approval of the Commissioner's bill, which, according to the legislator, seeks to incorporate Puerto Rico as a territory and create a Congressional Task Force to study the changes to federal laws that are needed to make Puerto Rico the 51 state in January 2021.

As a spokesperson for the 64 members of the NAACP Board, Shelton acknowledged that the approval of Gonzalez's bill, which is unlikely to advance in this Congress session, would not mean to make Puerto Rico state 51, but rather "initiating a process."

"Receiving the endorsement to statehood from one of the most recognized and successful civil rights organizations in the US is a historic step for our movement," Rosselló said.

Shelton said that although they have studied the status issue during the last decade, it was certainly Rosselló´s government and the Commissioner who asked for the support of the organization.

They would do the same, he said, if the US Virgin Islands voted in favor of statehood.


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