Despite opposition from President Donald Trump and Senate leader Mitch McConnell to the annexation of Puerto Rico to the U.S., Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón alleged that the U.S. government is preparing the island for statehood and is providing the economic tools to return to economic development.
Specifically, González Colón spoke of the Opportunity Zones, a program implemented by the Trump administration in 2017 and under which no initiative to boost Puerto Rico's economy has been completed yet.
“They are preparing us. The options of opportunities achieved for 97 percent of the island, and that some Democrats want to remove, is an investment mechanism flowing into the local economy,” said González Colón, who did not specify where those developments were or would be.
"They are starting," Washington Resident Commissioner said.
"This is just beginning," said Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia, New Progressive Party (PNP) candidate for governor in this Sunday primary elections.
The opportunity zones program allows investors to delay some tax payments if they reinvest the money in the areas included in the initiative, either because of the poverty level or at the discretion of the governors.
An investigation by The New York Times last year showed that investors participating in this tax benefit had concentrated their investments in cities with areas designated at the discretion of the governors, as they don´t represent a risk of losing money and higher returns than those impoverished areas, which were the zones the measure was intended to benefit.
During an interview with El Nuevo Día, both argued was that there was no reluctance in the United States to grant statehood to Puerto Rico despite the fact that, just a week ago, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen ruled out validating the yes-or-no statehood referendum proposed by the local government, arguing it was not clear that the island's voters had rejected the commonwealth status.
Pierluisi Urrutia indicated that even though there are sectors that do not favor the annexation of Puerto Rico to the U.S., the support to statehood in the referendum that will be held on along with general elections will provide the arguments to advance the issue in the federal capital.
"The referendum itself makes a difference. Having a "statehood: yes-or-no" referendum has the potential to completely change the scenario. A majority yes vote is the best introduction letter that Jenniffer González and I can have in Washington to make it happen. The result would be unquestionable because yes represents one option and no represents all the other options. This referendum does not exclude anyone," said Pierluisi.
The also former Resident Commissioner alleged that Trump has changed his opinion on several public policy issues and that Congress changes every two years, due to mid-term elections, so he estimated that there are opportunities to change the political status of Puerto Rico.
"What is the greatest legacy that a Congress or a president can have? To expand, to strengthen the nation. Puerto Rico is a great asset to the American nation and can represent even more like the 51st state. Having a bridge in the Caribbean between the mainland and Latin America is something extraordinary," Pierluisi Urrutia said. Federal jurisprudence establishes that Congress currently has plenary powers over the island.
During the interview, González Colón reiterated her support for Pierluisi Urrutia just days before the New Progressive Party primary for governor.
"I could have made the decision not to get involved and say I don't have primary elections, but that is not my way... I considered running (for governor), but one has to be clear about the reality of the people and not of personal aspirations at a given moment," González Colón said.
“People think that people who are not energetic are not determined people, and that is a very dangerous mistake. I have seen Pedro in action, he is elegant, polite, but determined. Puerto Rico needs more than a manager, a person who executes work. That led me to support him,” Resident Commissioner González said.