Washington- Rep. José Bernardo Márquez said that insisting on a federal statehood yes-or-no referendum would be like trying to build sandcastles since he understands that U.S. authorities say they prefer a status process that includes the other alternatives.
Márquez, a Movimiento Victoria Ciudadana (Citizen Victory Movement MVC, Spanish acronym) representative, said that recommendations by the Barack Obama administration and President Joe Biden´s campaign promise give priority to reviewing the political and legal relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico through a process with status alternatives.
“We have to engage the United States with that commitment or speech, and prevent them from continuing to avoid the status issue,” said Márquez, a 31-year-old lawyer and sociologist, in an interview on El Nuevo Día’s podcast called “From Washington”.
Along with the other three MVC lawmakers, Márquez has supported the bill by Puerto Rican Democratic Congresswomen Nydia Velázquez and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (both New York), which seeks to link Congress to a Status Convention and a referendum on non-territorial status alternatives to be held and regulated by the Puerto Rican government.
He anticipates that, after its reorganization, the MVC will formally support the legislation.
“We must move on the road to bring together decolonizing initiatives to face the United States with a Status Constitutional Assembly…If we are betting that there are will and interest in Puerto Rico to be annexed to the United States, I don’t understand why there is fear of this mechanism,” said Márquez, who added that promoting a statehood referendum at this moment “is like building the decolonization processes of the country on sand”.
As for the New Progressive Party (PNP), the MVC representative perceives a kind of political “performance, (to) project and, somehow, create the impression that they are acting on the status, but actually without strategies” to advance decolonization.
Regarding the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), Márquez said the new resolution issued by the party governing board reaffirms that they only seek to turn the issue when they point out that a political association model can be within the U.S. Constitution’s territories clause and, at the same time, not be at the mercy of Congress’ plenary powers, which were clearly exercised with the imposition of PROMESA Act.
Márquez said that, as a statehood advocate who rejects Governor Pedro Pierluisi and Washington Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González´ strategies, he can request a turn at the public hearing convened by the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee to discuss the bills introduced seeking to address the status issue.
Statehood won 52.5 percent of the vote in the last November 3 statehood yes-or-no referendum, but Governor Pierluisi, as the PNP candidate, received only 33 percent of the voter’s support.
Márquez, whose party won 13.95 percent support last November, voted in favor of statehood in that referendum.
“Last election results showed that there is a leadership and a pro-statehood political initiative outside the PNP,” said Márquez, who describes himself as part of a progressive political line, but acknowledges that another statehood voice outside the PNP is conservative Proyecto Dignidad (Dignity Project) party lawmaker, Lisie Burgos.
MVC representatives have seen as an achievement that the bill by Congresswomen Velázquez and Ocasio Cortez - supported by 72 other Democrats in the House, seven Democratic senators and one Republican senator - was amended to allow non-territorial status alternatives to be included in a referendum, not only one, and there is a commitment by Congress to respond to the results of the discussions in the Convention and the referendum.
He also stressed the importance to require transition plans for each status alternative, including issues related to the economy, language, and international sports representation in dialogue with a bipartisan congressional commission.
In response to criticism from PDP sectors -who complain about the exclusion of the territorial Commonwealth from the process supported by 74 U.S. House Democrats -, Márquez said that the call for a Status Assembly in Puerto Rico is based on the premise that the aspiration is to decolonize the island.