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US Council for Puerto Rico Statehood Formed;
Padilla Selected Chairman

Washington, DC – 07/15/98. The US Council for Puerto Rico Statehood in Washington DC, announced today that it selected Dr. Hernan Padilla of Rockville, MD, as Chairman. Dr. Padilla is a former Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and also served as President of the US Conference of Mayors.

In his remarks to the group, Dr. Padilla said, "People on the mainland do not fully realize that this year marks the 100th anniversary of Puerto Rico becoming a part of the United States. The US Council for Puerto Rico Statehood will educate US citizens about Puerto Rico, the many important contributions which Puerto Ricans have made to the United States in the past century, and the reasons why they should support statehood for Puerto Rico."

The US Council for Puerto Rico Statehood is working to support the passage of legislation currently before the US Senate on the political status of Puerto Rico. The bill (S 472) mandates a plebiscite offering the 3.8 million people of Puerto Rico three political status options: statehood, independence, or continuation of the present Commonwealth arrangement, and a multi-year process for implementation of the results of the plebiscite. The bill has already passed the US House of Representatives.

Commenting on the recent general strike held last week in Puerto Rico to protest the privatization of the Puerto Rico Telephone Company, Padilla said, "This strike is unfortunate, but the sale of the Puerto Rico Telephone Company simply follows national trends in privatizing government services. The future for Puerto Rico will be built on the gains that will assuredly come from reliance on the private sector for job creation."

Puerto Rico became a possession of the United States as a result of the 1898 Treaty of Paris, which brought a conclusion to the Spanish-American War. Statutory US citizenship was granted to residents of Puerto Rico in 1917, and in 1948 Congress extended to Puerto Rico local self-government and the popular selection of the governor. But that status falls short of creating full participation in the democratic process. Citizens in Puerto Rico are unable to vote in presidential elections and are represented in Congress by a non-voting Resident Commissioner. Statehood would bring full integration of Puerto Rico into the US economy and give the US citizens in Puerto Rico the same responsibilities and rights as all US citizens.

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