Talks of Puerto Rico statehood are alive and well
Talks of Puerto Rico statehood are alive and well over a year following the devastation of the hurricanes of 2017. Congressional members Jenniffer González-Colón and former Natural resources Chairperson Rob Bishop were working together on a memorandum regarding the plebiscite vote and beginning the process of moving Puerto Rico into statehood. While still in the draft stages the report is said to consider the plebiscite authentic despite the opposition of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) to the vote and their claims of illegitimacy.
Before the hurricanes, Governor Ricardo Rosselló had made steps to enact a “Tennessee Plan” to send individuals to congressional hearings. These individuals would be the equivalent to Puerto Rico’s representation in the House and Senate and would be stand ins and advocates for Puerto Rico and the advancement of the statehood movement. When the hurricanes hit most of the statehood agenda was put aside in order to address the crises and help the islands rebuild. Now the New Progressive Party (NPP), working with Representative Bishop have suggested one additional referendum to vote on statehood. While Governor Rosselló and Resident Commissioner González-Colón didn’t think it was a necessary move at first, the Governor eventually released a statement supporting the move as it would keep in line with history since Hawaii and Alaska both had federal referendums prior to statehood admission.
There has been some doubt as to the sincerity of Representative Bishop’s actions since he had drafted the letter regarding statehood but never held a hearing as chairperson of the committee. Coupling this with President Trump’s absolute “no” to the idea of Puerto Rican statehood means that there will be an uphill battle for the movement no matter what. With strong supporters and strong dissidents on both sides this movement could be anybody’s game. While the current cry of the NPP is that statehood is unacceptable and unsustainable it remains to be seen what the final outcome will be for the people of Puerto Rico.