Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner Tells Congress It’s Time to Admit Island as a State


Image courtesy of Jenniffer González

By Mivette Vega

November 23, 2020

During the general election Puerto Ricans casted a non-binding vote on whether they want the island to become a full-fledged state.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico—Jenniffer González, Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner in Washington, DC, presented the results of the plebiscite held on the island, Nov. 3, to the United States House of Representatives.

During the general election Puerto Ricans casted a non-binding vote on whether they want the island to become a full-fledged state. They got to choose between ‘yes’ or ‘no’ options. According to the local State Elections Commission (CEE by its Spanish initials), 52.34% (623,053) voted yes, while 47.66% (567,346) voted no. In the 2020 election 1,244,841 voters voted, out of the 2,355,894 who were registered.

READ MORE: World-Renowned Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico Is on the Brink of Collapse

González said before Congress that Puerto Ricans clearly and decisively “rejected the option to remain a possession of the US,” and that it is time for Congress to admit the island as a state of the union.

The commissioner said that for the past eight years the island has voted pro-statehood in all public plebiscites. However, on June 11, 2017, former Governor Ricardo Rosselló held a plebiscite in which 97% of voters chose statehood but the turnout for the plebiscite was only 22.93% of registered voters.

Last Thursday, González emphasized the right of Puerto Ricans to be treated equally as American citizens. She blames the island’s economic underdevelopment and decline to unequal treatment from the federal government.

“The Americans of this territory—including the 235,000 who have served in the Armed Forces—deserve equality,” González said in a press release. “Territory status, with its lack of representation and lesser treatment than that of the States, has caused most Puerto Ricans to obtain the privileges of statehood by moving to a State.”

In July, the US Department of Justice rejected the release of federal funds to conduct a plebiscite. The island’s government requested $2.5 million, assigned by a 2014 appropriation law by Congress, for an “objective, nonpartisan voter education regarding a status plebiscite on options that would resolve Puerto Rico’s political status.” 

READ MORE: Puerto Rico’s Tourism Industry Is Suffering. High Season Is Not Looking Any Better.

After the 2020 election, the Department of Justice determined the plebiscite violated federal public policy by not including the other status alternatives and misleadingly alleging that it could mean the immediate admission of Puerto Rico as a state.  

González said in another press release she discussed the results of the plebiscite with senators and congress members in support of statehood. Among them, she mentioned Florida Democrats Darren Soto and Stephanie Murphy; New York Democrat José Serrano; and Florida Republicans Rick Scott and Marco Rubio.




Local News

Related Stories