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STATEMENT: CAP Applauds Reintroduction of the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Bill

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Natural Resources Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives held a hearing on Puerto Rico’s political status, including the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2021 (H.R. 2070), a bicameral piece of legislation recently reintroduced by Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ). This federally binding bill would facilitate a process for Puerto Rico to finally have the freedom to choose its own destiny.

The legislation, which closely aligns with a similar bill introduced last year, recognizes 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 congressional response. Key provisions of the bill include:

  • A federally binding self-determination process that includes all nonterritorial options
  • Recognition of the inherent authority of the Puerto Rico Legislature to call for a convention, wherein delegates will be elected by the people to negotiate status definitions, transition plans, and a vote by the people of Puerto Rico on the different status alternatives
  • A semi-permanent, 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, as the last six nonbinding referendums have lacked

Winnie Stachelberg, executive vice president for External Affairs at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:

This piece of legislation would finally offer Puerto Rico the chance to determine its own future with the knowledge of the consequences of their vote and a congressional commitment to respect their wishes. This landmark legislation would facilitate, not impose, a status resolution mechanism that has been widely used in the United States and around the world and is a democratic and inclusive way to resolve 123 years of colonialism on the island.

We stand in solidarity with the people of Puerto Rico and support the reintroduction of this bill, as it closely aligns with President Biden’s stated position to work with “representatives of every status option—in a process of self-determination, listening and developing federal legislation that outlines a fair path forward.” Now is the time to help Puerto Rico chart its own path forward and provide the people of the island with the tools they need to make an informed and final decision on their future political relationship with the United States.

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