Center for American Progress

STATEMENT: CAP’s Erin Cohan Applauds Introduction of the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2020
Press Statement

STATEMENT: CAP’s Erin Cohan Applauds Introduction of the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2020

Washington, D.C. — Yesterday, Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) introduced the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2020, a bill that would recognize the inherent authority of Puerto Rico to create a constitutional convention to determine a long-term solution for the political status of the island and establish a mechanism for a congressional response. The most notable provisions of the bill include:

  • A plan for a status convention wherein delegates would be elected by the people and would negotiate status definitions, transition plans, and a final option for a ratification vote by the people of Puerto Rico
  • A semipermanent, bilateral mechanism for Congress and the status convention to be engaged until a resolution is achieved, rather than imposing outcomes or engaging in a process with no federal government participation

Following introduction of the bill, Erin Cohan, chief of staff and vice president at the Center for American Progress and co-lead of CAP’s Puerto Rico Relief and Economic Policy Initiative, issued the following statement:

Puerto Rico will never have a fair shot at a chance to recover and rebuild from decades of financial strain and compounding natural disasters until its colonial relationship with the United States is resolved. The island continues to be treated in a fundamentally undemocratic and unfair manner by the federal government—especially by the current administration. Previous plebiscites have repeatedly failed at determining the true will of the people, and a new approach is sorely needed. This legislation lays out a fair and inclusive process, with consideration of all nonterritorial and noncolonial options, and a novel approach to working with Congress to find a permanent solution. It is the most democratic, participatory, and inclusive proposal to resolve Puerto Rico’s political status put forth in recent times.

Related resource: “The Time Has Come for Progressives To Support Self-Determination for Puerto Rico” by Erin Cohan

For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Allison Preiss at