Realization of self-determination for Puerto Rico's 3.8 million U.S. citizens represents the culmination of their quest for equality, dignity and full self-government as first class citizens following 500 years of Spanish and American administration.

Never entitled to their equal rights as citizens or the constitution's full protections, Puerto Ricans have, nevertheless, demonstrated loyalty, allegiance and dedication to the common bonds that unite all Americans. They have fearlessly defended the American way of life abroad since WW I though they can't vote for the commander-in-chief who sends them into battle.

At home their commitment to American democratic ideals is unmatched in the U.S. by the highest voter registrations -- 98 percent -- and the biggest Election Day turnouts -- over 80 percent. Yet, they are denied voting representation in the national congress that determines the rules by which they live.

Their U.S. citizenship does not shield them from discrimination that would not be constitutionally tolerated in the fifty states. Economically, as a territory, Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans are denied equal opportunity in pursuit of the American dream.

America, the champion of self-determination throughout the world can no longer prevent its own disenfranchised citizens from exercising that same democratic principle at home. After a century under the American flag, 3.8 million of America's most loyal citizens have earned the right to self-determination. It must not be denied.


Why is it so important to act on the Puerto Rico Self-Determination bill now?

  1. Under the constitution territorial status is temporary and 100 years as an American possession is hardly a short time for a permanent status for Puerto Rico to be determined.
  2. Puerto Rico has endured territorial status longer than any other American territory without becoming either independent (Philippines) or a state (Alaska, Hawaii). (N.B. Some claim Oklahoma was the longest held territory from the 1803 Louisiana Purchase to 1907, when it was admitted. However, the state now known as Oklahoma, was once part of the territories of Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri and finally Arkansas until 1828 when it was deemed Indian Territories and reserved for Native Americans. Indian sovereignty was revoked in 1862. Not until 1890 was a territorial government in the western part of the former Indian Territory organized under the name Oklahoma. In 1907 Oklahoma and the remaining Indian Territory were united and admitted as one state, Oklahoma.)
  3. The current status is no longer supported by a majority of Puerto Rico's residents as the 1993 plebiscite found only 48.6 percent of the electorate favoring commonwealth.
  4. As a result, the people of Puerto Rico, through their legislature, twice petitioned Congress to "Respond to the democratic aspirations of the American citizens of Puerto Rico" by defining the acceptable self-government status options and mandating a plebiscite by 1998 as provided under the Constitution's Territorial Clause.
  5. Further, American taxpayers can not be expected to indefinitely continue subsidizing Puerto Rico's commonwealth at the rate $13 billion a year, and growing, without, any permanent status solution in sight.
  6. It's time for Congress to end the discussion that goes back as far as the 1989 congressional legislative initiatives on how to proceed and to finally resolve the U.S. – Puerto Rico relationship now. Calling for further discussion is merely a thinly veiled attempt to kill the legislation.


What does the bill provide?

  1. It provides a process leading to full self-government – independence or free association or statehood - through self-determination in accordance with the UN's mandate to end colonization in this, the UN's Decade of De-Colonization.
  2. Independence or free association and statehood are the two internationally accepted full self-government alternatives mandated by the UN for termination of colonial status.
  3. The bill calls for a non-binding plebiscite among the status quo, independence and statehood options by Puerto Rico's 3.8 million U.S. citizens.
  4. Any change in status requires a majority vote in the first referenda and confirming votes twice more over ten years until any actual change in status takes place.
  5. Although congress is not bound to implement the change in status selected in the referenda, we hope it will take into consideration our choice when deciding the island's fate under the Constitution's Territorial Clause.


Why is U.S. citizenship so important and how does each of the bill's options deal with U.S. citizenship?

  1. In the 1993 plebiscite 95 percent of all Puerto Ricans voted for the commonwealth and statehood options which promised guaranteed U.S. citizenship.
  2. However, these bills make it clear that only statehood provides the constitutional guarantee of permanent U.S. citizenship.
  3. Although no one is talking about ending statutory citizenship for Puerto Ricans, it cannot be made permanent under commonwealth.


If Puerto Ricans vote for independence or free association can they have dual citizenship as well?

  1. No. The residents of a new Puerto Rico country or a new free associated state can retain their U.S. citizenship for life so long as they don't take actions which demonstrate their dual or primary loyalty or first allegiance to the new country or state.
  2. Once they demonstrate loyalty to the new sovereign state or free associated state they will lose their U.S. citizenship.
  3. Offspring of U.S. citizens of the new sovereign state or free associated state will not be American citizens


How does independence differ from free association?

  1. Independence or free associated state is just what it means, a newly created sovereign state with its own laws, constitution, etc.
  2. The newly independent country will have a permanent status that can not be altered, its ties with the U.S. subject to negotiations and treaty.
  3. A free associated state can not have a guarantee of permanent ties with the U.S. Under international law both parties will retain the right to unilaterally terminate the free associated state relationship. The U.S. can unilaterally end it as can the new free associated state.


Isn't this bill tilted against commonwealth?

  1. Wrong, although commonwealth backers would have you believe it is as they are trying to kill the legislation by claiming the writers of both bills improperly rejected their definition.
  2. The truth: their 1993 status plebiscite definition was found unconstitutional by four senior Republican House Committee Chairmen because it promised guaranteed American citizenship (Puerto Ricans are statutory U.S. citizens), full federal funding and no federal income taxation.
  3. Worse, the definition they submitted for S. 472 and H.R. 856 also called for a veto power over federal legislation applicable to Puerto Rico! Even their most ardent Democratic supporter in the House, Representative George Miller, (D-CA), abandoned them on this issue.
  4. If anything, this bill is tilted toward the present territorial status quo. Remember that any change in status requires a majority on the first ballot and two confirming majorities on Transition and Implementation stages over a ten-year period. All it takes is for independence or statehood to fail to get a majority in any of one of these three referenda and the status quo remains intact.


Isn't this bill, then, really a statehood bill?

  1. Hardly. There is no guarantee that statehood can even win a plurality in a status referendum, less a chance of winning a majority the first time around. In 1993, it came in second with 46.3 percent of the vote to 48.6 for commonwealth.
  2. Second, even if statehood does get a majority, it would still have to receive majority votes in the Transition and Implementation stages.
  3. Since the plebiscites are non-binding, Congress will have the final say as to whether it will act on the results.
  4. Finally, Congressional power over Puerto Rico is absolute; for example, it could unilaterally declare Puerto Rico independent under the Territorial Clause.


Then why support its passage if statehood is such a long shot?

  1. First, it's the right thing to do. How can the U.S. stand for self-determination throughout the world and deny it to the 3.8 million American citizens of Puerto Rico at home? It can't.
  2. Thus, self-determination is right for Puerto Rico. Either independence or statehood will give Puerto Ricans first class citizenship (votes for elected representatives and the presidency) and accelerated economic development.


Isn't there an alternative to this bill, one that first provides for a vote on commonwealth and, if that fails, further referenda on statehood or independence?

  1. No, commonwealth was already rejected by a majority of voters in the 1993 plebiscite.
  2. Secondly, commonwealth is impermanent and can't, under the constitution, exist indefinitely.
  3. Third, the commonwealth option is already in the bill and it will continue to provide for the territory's governance until one of the permanent forms of self-government -- statehood or independence -- is selected.
  4. Finally, efforts to promote this alternative legislation are really aimed at killing both bills and preventing Puerto Rico self-determination.


Wouldn't statehood cost American taxpayers more?

  1. Just the reverse. Even though federal programs would be fully funded, up to $1.4 billion more, the immediate elimination of federal tax breaks and the eventual imposition of federal taxes on individuals and corporations would amount to $4.12 billion, actually reducing the cost of Puerto Rico to the U.S. Treasury by some $2.7 billion annually.
  2. Secondly, over time Puerto Rico, like the rest of the territories that became states, would exhibit higher economic growth – 4.7 to 6 percent (2.2 percent to 3.5 percent over and above the current 2.5 percent growth rate) -- causing federal tax revenues to rise eventually eliminating all treasury subsidies.
  3. As proof, Hawaii almost doubled its rate of growth from 4 to 7 percent in the 15 years after statehood and grew even faster than the vibrant U.S. economy.


What's in it for the American people in the fifty states?

  1. Lots, as was stated before, any change in status will reduce the costs -- some $13 billion a year and growing – to American taxpayers of subsiding Puerto Rico.
  2. Secondly, Puerto Rico will provide cultural and bilingual links with Latin America that will enhance economic and political ties with the United States.
  3. It's the right thing to do, after all Puerto Ricans are Americans, too!
  4. Finally, as Ronald Reagan said, "Puerto Ricans have borne the responsibilities of U.S. citizenship with honor and courage…its strong tradition of democracy provides leadership and stability in that region."


What's in it for the people of Puerto Rico?

  1. Self-determination will finally, after 400 years of Spanish rule and 100 of American, offer Puerto Rico's 3.8 million U.S. citizens the opportunity to determine their own political future as part of the U.S or as an independent nation.
  2. They need to shed their second class citizenship and be able to vote for the president of the U.S and elect voting members of congress if Puerto Rico becomes a state.
  3. Or, they will be the masters of their own fate if independence is chosen.
  4. In both cases, they will no longer be politically disenfranchised or denied the full rights of their citizenship.
  5. Finally, independence or statehood will provide a better way of life as a result of accelerated economic growth and increased per capita income.


Don't polls indicate that Puerto Ricans do not consider themselves Americans and therefore a vote for statehood should be disregarded or require a super-majority for approval?

  1. Puerto Rico's 3.8 million U.S. citizens are among the most fervent Americans as the only polls that really count – those held on Election Day and in the battlefields -- reveal.
  2. In the 1993 plebiscite, 95 percent of the voters (statehood and commonwealth) favored permanent ties with the U.S. and guaranteed American citizenship. If that's not considered being 100 percent American what is?
  3. Puerto Rico's commitment to democracy and democratic institutions is unparalleled in the United States; over 80 percent of the electorate routinely turn out on election days.
  4. 200,000 of our youth have defended American values abroad since WW I, one of the highest enlistment rates in all the U.S.
  5. Puerto Ricans are among the most traveled Americans freely demonstrating their love for the Union by their frequent visits and by the fact that over 2.5 million permanently reside stateside.
  6. Finally, no other territory has ever been required to have a super-majority for statehood. Alaska got only a little more than 58 percent the first time around but, as statehood became more of a reality, the numbers grew. Puerto Rico, if it chooses statehood would mirror that increase in acceptance.


That brings up another issue: Why should possible statehood for Puerto Rico be considered if many of its residents don't speak English?

  1. First, a commitment to common rights, responsibilities and ideals, not a dominant language, bonds Americans.
  2. Second, since 1917, as American citizens, they have defended American values abroad -- more than 2,000 have made the supreme sacrifice.
  3. English and Spanish are Puerto Rico's two official languages and, recognizing the need to become bilingual, recent government efforts have increased English education in our public schools.
  4. In fact, Puerto Rico in 1902, became the first American jurisdiction to make English an official language. It joined Spanish as one of the island's two official languages.
  5. English is the official language of the federal courts and all U.S. agencies as well as the language of banking, commerce, real estate and the hospitality industry.
  6. There is broad support in Puerto Rico for the House bill, which would accelerate English fluency among children by targeting age ten as the year in which they would speak English.
  7. Remember that it was a PDP (commonwealth) governor of Puerto Rico who attempted to eliminate English as an official language in 1991; this was reversed under the present administration in 1993.
  8. Puerto Ricans understand the importance of English fluency as a means to achieve economic success and, therefore, support increased education in the language.
  9. As such, pro-statehood Puerto Ricans are in agreement with Speaker Gingrich that Puerto Ricans should be required to learn English if the island is to be admitted into the Union.


Isn't there more, wouldn't statehood be for the poor?

  1. Not at all. Just because there would be full funding for federal programs in Puerto Rico doesn't mean Puerto Ricans are looking for a handout. If they were they'd all have left the island for the mainland a long time ago!
  2. Puerto Ricans are willing to pay their fair share of federal income taxes that would be eventually be required under statehood. (This would have little effect on total tax bills as Puerto Ricans are among the highest taxed in the nation to make up for the inequities in federal funding. Statehood would carry with it full federal funding thereby allowing local rates to be correspondingly reduced.)
  3. In fact, statehood is for all Puerto Ricans and all Americans. Statehood would end the uncertainty over status thereby stimulating investment and growing the economy causing Puerto Rico to catch up with the mainland economically and making Puerto Ricans pay their own way rather than being wards of the federal treasury.


Why should Republicans pass Puerto Rico self-determination legislation?

  1. First, it's a matter of principle as the party has supported Puerto Rico self-determination for over 40 years.
  2. Every Republican president -- Eisenhower to Nixon to Ford to Reagan to Bush -- has supported Puerto Rico self-determination.
  3. The national Republican Party's platforms have, since 1972, called for Puerto Rico self-determination. In 1996, it said: "We endorse initiatives of the congressional Republican leadership to provide for Puerto Rico's smooth transition to statehood if its citizens choose to alter their current status, or to set them on their own path to become an independent nation."
  4. Finally, as Ralph Reed stated "It's only fitting that a Republican Congress should give the people of Puerto Rico what so many Republican presidents sought to achieve – a way to determine for themselves the government they should have. Give them your support for H.R. 856…and S. 472."


What's in it politically for the Republican party if it passes S. 472?

  1. Politically, passage of the legislation can help Republicans among the 27 million mainland Hispanic Americans, 6.6 million of whom voted by a nearly 72 percent margin for the Democrats in 1996.
  2. They will soon be the nation's largest minority (2005) and key to winning critical electoral votes in states like California, Arizona, Texas and Florida. Without re-capturing a sizeable percentage of the Hispanic American vote, the White House in 2000 may be out of reach.
  3. If the Republican Party wants to be the New Majority Party it has no choice but to reach out to Hispanic Americans by passing S. 472.
  4. As Ralph Reed said, "The Republican Party stands today on the threshold of sweeping political success. To achieve the success…we must demonstrate that our party is the natural home to millions of Hispanic Americans and is the true representative of their ideals and values…We have an opportunity to begin this outreach now…Give your support for H.R. 856…and S. 472".
  5. Republicans should not be misled by opponents of self-determination who claim Hispanic Americans are not united behind these bills; numerous organizations including the League of United Latin American Citizens ("LULAC"), the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, and the National Association of Hispanic Publications, not to mention 14 of the 17 members of the Hispanic Caucus who voted for H.R. 856, are behind the legislation.
  6. Finally, a recent Univision survey found 56 percent of all Hispanic Americans favor Puerto Rican statehood.


Why should the Republican controlled Senate help Puerto Rico's Republican Party?

  1. The Puerto Rico Republican Party was founded in 1902 (78 years before the Democrats started up on the island) by Dr. Jose Celso Barbosa, the Forefather of Statehood for Puerto Rico. As early as 1928, our party won control of both houses of the legislature.
  2. Poll after poll finds strong Puerto Rico identification with traditional Republican values: fiscally conservative, family oriented, pro-life, very religious.
  3. The Puerto Rico Republican Party has been a major supporter of the national party and its candidates. In the 1996 presidential primary Bob Dole's victory here re-energized his campaign sending him on to the presidential nomination.
  4. Finally, the ruling statehood New Progressive Party (NPP) initiatives go beyond Republican mainland goals including: implementation of public company privatization's, a moment of meditation at the start of the school day, the Charter School concept, reductions in capital gains and income tax rates and in the government workforce.


But, doesn't Puerto Rico's new Labor law allowing public employees the right to organize permit union dues collected in Puerto Rico to be used to finance campaigns against Republicans in Congress?

  1. No! It specifically prohibits the use of union dues in any political campaign and violations of this ban will result in decertification of the union.
  2. This is exactly the type of law Republicans in congress have sought to pass in order to prevent mainland unions from financing Democratic campaigns against without the consent of their members.


If Republicans passed S. 472 and Puerto Rico Became a state, wouldn't it elect Democratic sentaors and representatives threatening their control of Congress?

  1. The statistics prove otherwise. A majority of members of the Puerto Rico legislature are Republicans and 68 percent of the island's mayors are, too.
  2. The Democratic Party of Puerto Rico has never elected a single officeholder as a Democrat.
  3. Moreover, a recent Center for Research and Public Policy poll found that the people of Puerto Rico share the Republican Party's conservative values: they are pro-family, anti-abortion, endorse school vouchers, favor school prayer and harsh prison terms for perpetrators of violent crimes and crimes against children and support a conservative lifestyle opposing state recognition of homosexual lifestyles.
  4. As Ralph Reed pointed out, "If Puerto Rico became a state tomorrow and congressional elections were held, we would expect that Republicans would fare very well."


In summation, what do Senate Republicans and the Republican Party have to gain by passing S. 472?


  1. Credibility and with it the potential to recapture their traditional share of the Hispanic American vote in critical states -- in local and national races as well as the White House -- in 1998 and 2000.
  2. Preventing the Democrats from claiming more of the Hispanic American vote by taking credit for House passage of H.R. 856.
  3. Taking a major step toward building their New Majority Party status by demonstrating the Republican Party's big tent appeal -- inclusiveness -- to all comers.


What do Republicans risk losing by not passing Puerto Rico self-determination legislation?


  1. Credibility within the Hispanic American community and other minority groups throughout the country.
  2. Alienating and losing additional Hispanic American voter support to the Democrats who would blame inaction on the bill on the Republicans.
  3. Diminished margins in the House, perhaps control, and the Senate and loss of key gubernatorial races in 1998 and the White House in 2000.

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