Washington - Democratic Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez is making “some adjustments” to her legislation on Puerto Rico’s political future, because she wants to reintroduce it in the House at the end of this month and about which she is having conversations with senators.
In a pre-recorded message for an online panel on Puerto Rico’s political status - which was held Friday and organized by Boricuas Unidos en la Diáspora - Congresswoman Velázquez said the legislation will seek again to call a status convention through which the people of Puerto Rico would exercise their natural right to self-determination and establish a mechanism for congressional consideration of such decision. The island’s government would call that convention to debate and draft options
“I think many of us can agree, regardless of our own personal opinions, that the current relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico needs to be vigorously scrutinized,” Velázquez said, indicating that the options for Puerto Rico could be “statehood, independence, free association or any other relationship other than the current territorial status.”
“We hope that this bill will be reintroduced by the end of this month,” said Renata Beca Barragán, Velázquez´s staffer, who participated in the Democracy & Self-Determination Special Panel Finding Consensus on a Serious Self-Determination and Decolonization Process for Puerto Rico with panelists
PR Senator Rafael Bernabe, of the Movimiento Victoria Ciudadana (Citizen Victory Movement); former congressman Luis Gutiérrez, who now resides on the island; former San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz; and former senator and secretary-general of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), Juan Dalmau.
Beca Barragán indicated that talks are underway for the bill to be introduced in the Senate as well, where Democratic Majority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) indicated that the November 3 referendum in Puerto Rico, in which statehood won 52.5 percent of the vote, did not reflect consensus, but division.
The forum focused on the bill that Puerto Rican congresswomen Velázquez and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez introduced last Congress, a measure that will compete in the House with the bill to be promoted by Washington Resident Commissioner, Jenniffer González, seeking that the U.S. offers statehood to the island’s voters.
Bernabe - who believes in Puerto Rico’s independence, but whose party focuses on promoting a status assembly as a procedural mechanism - said the bill Velázquez and Ocasio Cortez introduced last Congress is “a very good starting point”.
Bernabe believes, however, that changes to the bill should include that the Status Convention’s purpose should be to present the electorate with status alternatives that have been negotiated with Congress, not just one, and to ensure that the federal government will abide by the vote on the island.
Bernabe said that if Congress, after a negotiation with a commission of the delegates to the Status Convention, legislates the options that could be alternatives for the island, it will be clear “if statehood is a real option or not”.
After Bernabe’s presentation, Beca Barragán said that they are making adjustments to the original version of the bill, without offering details.
In response to the criticism of the statehood sectors to the Velázquez and Ocasio Cortez bill, Beca Barragán said that no one seeks to exclude this alternative from the discussion. Among the panelists, there was consensus, however, that the solution to the colonial problem requires leaving out any territorial alternative.
Statehood supporters “will have a seat at the table. This is an inclusive, democratic and transparent process,” said the advisor to Congresswoman Velázquez.