Washington - Separately, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) distanced themselves yesterday from expressions that could link them to the movement in favor of Puerto Rico becoming the 51st state of the United States.
Just 48 hours after their convention in San Antonio, Texas, passed a resolution backing the pro-statehood bill authored by Resident Commissioner in Washington DC, Jenniffer González, the NAACP - the most important African-American civil rights organization - changed its position, and issued another statement in which they noted that "Puerto Rico should be free to decide its preferred option in a fair and inclusive manner."
"NAACP has a long history of supporting the democratic value of self-determination," said the organization in a written statement. Last October, the NAACP approved another resolution backing statehood. But that happened amid the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria, and went largely unnoticed.
Aba Blankson, NAACP vice president of Communications and Digital Media, told El Nuevo Día that yesterday's statement cancels the previous pro-statehood resolution.
"We feel our position is especially important following the devastating hurricane and abysmal response from our federal government. The NAACP stands with the people of Puerto Rico now more than ever, and we affirm our ability to work together in our joint struggle for equal protection, equal opportunity and free will," stated NAACP in writing.
NAACP Members, such as Puerto Rican Rosa Clemente, who was a Green Party candidate for vice president of the United States in the 2008 elections, had complained about the organization's support to statehood.
For Charlie Rodríguez, president of the US Democratic Party in Puerto Rico and member of the Equality Commission, the important thing is that the new statement in favor of self-determination would not represent a "barrier" to statehood.
On Twitter, the M-18 (Junte de Mujeres) launched a campaign on Wednesday against NAACP decision, and requested for them to take into account that the debate about Puerto Rican political status is about a nation´s self-determination.
On Tuesday, Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares spoke at the NAACP convention and witness the endorsement to Commissioner González's bill, which proposes to create a Congress Working Group to direct the admission of Puerto Rico as 51st state.
In the resolution adopted on Tuesday, the NAACP indicated that Bill 6246 is a "major first step" to achieve "the democratic will of the US citizens of Puerto Rico… that would result in the formal admission of Puerto Rico as a state of the United States on an equal footing and in true permanent union, effective no later than January 1, 2021."
"Let this withdrawal of NAACP´s failed supportfor statehood serve as the most recent humiliation to awaken from the submissive and colonial lethargy," said Senator Juan Dalmau, on the other hand.
Meanwhile, the AJC explained that they are not related to the debate on Puerto Rican political status. In its first report to the Legislature and the governor in June, the Equality Commission referred to an "alliance and collaboration" with various groups, and placed a photo and the name of that committee.
"Our organization stays out of the dispute about status for the moment. We will continue to support efforts to rebuild Puerto Rico and make its economy viable and denounce the violation of civil rights," said Dina Siegel Vann, director of AJC Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs.
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