Puerto Rico’s Secretary of State on statehood and the path forward

by Jun 23, 2017Headlines, Status0 comments

In a conversation with Puerto Rico Secretary of State Luis Rivera-Marin, we spoke about the plebiscite and the next steps for Puerto Rico and what that would entail. Secretary Rivera-Marin was just coming back from a trip to Washington, DC to deliver the results of the June 11 plebiscite to the lawmakers in the capital. Stressing the legitimacy of the vote, the secretary is extremely hopeful for the future and grateful for the way that the vote turned out. “It has been from day one, that our duties were to pursue the legislation and facilitate the vote for immediate decolonization.”

“We knew going into [office] that Puerto Rico favored statehood,” Rivera-Marin said. It was known that 90% of Puerto Rico favored keeping American citizenship and many leaned toward statehood. To the Secretary, the vote just confirmed a future where the status of the islands was resolved and a formal path to statehood was starting. Last Thursday Secretary Rivera-Marin filed the results with Congress in order to start the next steps of the statehood process. “Now is when the real work starts,” he quipped, “from here the office of the Secretary of State will start with petitioning the Committee of Natural Resources in the House and gathering depositions for their congressional hearings.”

While there has been some talk about the way congress will react, if they will even react, Secretary Rivera-Marin is not afraid. Some believe that congress will nullify the results because of the low voter turnout, however Secretary Rivera-Marin offers a different take, “My stance is the same as that of our founding father Thomas Jefferson, ‘We are not a government of the majority, but of the majority who vote.’ Meaning those that let their voice be heard should be heard. All had access, we followed all the rules, they knew they would not prevail so they did not show up.” He then stated that many congressional leaders were elected by very low margins and it would be hypocritical of Congress to allow them into the Capitol with such a small turnout and not allow Puerto Rico.

Despite the economic fluctuations across the islands, the Secretary is assured of the stability of the territory during the statehood transition process. “We are statehood ready,” he said, “we are already participating in major party politics and once we transition we will naturally switch over from the Puerto Rican parties.” He also explained how states have certain codes for entering the Union, such as swearing to uphold the Constitution, establishing borders, and have at least a 60,000 person population, all of which Puerto Rico already has. Secretary Rivera-Marin is ready to do the work to facilitate a smooth and successful transition into Statehood and to let the people of Puerto Rico find resolution to a 100 year old status problem.

For updates from the Secretary’s office follow him on Twitter @luisriveramarin.