SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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PUERTO RICO STATUS
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO, APRIL 19, 1997
Serial No. 10528
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPrinted for the use of the Committee on Resources
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
DON YOUNG, Alaska, Chairman
W.J. (BILLY) TAUZIN, Louisiana
JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
JOEL HEFLEY, Colorado
JOHN T. DOOLITTLE, California
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
KEN CALVERT, California
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
BARBARA CUBIN, Wyoming
HELEN CHENOWETH, Idaho
LINDA SMITH, Washington
GEORGE P. RADANOVICH, California
WALTER B. JONES, Jr., North Carolina
WILLIAM M. (MAC) THORNBERRY, Texas
JOHN SHADEGG, Arizona
JOHN E. ENSIGN, Nevada
ROBERT F. SMITH, Oregon
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCCHRIS CANNON, Utah
KEVIN BRADY, Texas
JOHN PETERSON, Pennsylvania
RICK HILL, Montana
BOB SCHAFFER, Colorado
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
MICHAEL D. CRAPO, Idaho
GEORGE MILLER, California
EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
BRUCE F. VENTO, Minnesota
DALE E. KILDEE, Michigan
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
NEIL ABERCROMBIE, Hawaii
SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas
OWEN B. PICKETT, Virginia
FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey
CALVIN M. DOOLEY, California
CARLOS A. ROMERO-BARCELÓ, Puerto Rico
MAURICE D. HINCHEY, New York
ROBERT A. UNDERWOOD, Guam
SAM FARR, California
PATRICK J. KENNEDY, Rhode Island
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCADAM SMITH, Washington
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
CHRIS JOHN, Louisiana
DONNA CHRISTIAN-GREEN, Virgin Islands
RON KIND, Wisconsin
LLOYD DOGGETT, Texas
LLOYD A. JONES, Chief of Staff
ELIZABETH MEGGINSON, Chief Counsel
CHRISTINE KENNEDY, Chief Clerk/Administrator
JOHN LAWRENCE, Democratic Staff Director
T.E. MANASE MANSUR, Republican Professional Staff
MARIE FABRIZIO-HOWARD, Democratic Professional Staff
C O N T E N T S
Hearing held April 19, 1997
Statement of Members:
Kennedy, Hon. Patrick J., a Representative in Congress from the State of Rhode Island
Miller, Hon. George, a Representative in Congress from the State of California
Rodriguez, Hon. Charlie, Designee for the New Progressive Party, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Romero-Barceló, Hon. Carlos A., Resident Commissioner in Congress from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
Underwood, Hon. Robert A., a U.S. Delegate from the Territory of Guam
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPrepared statement of
Young, Hon. Don, a Representative in Congress from the State of Alaska; and Chairman, Committee on Resources
Statement of Witnesses:
Agostini, Juan Antonio, President, Pax Christi-Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Arraiza, Manuel Fermin, President, Puerto Rico Bar Association, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Benitez, Prof. Margarita, AFELA, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Prepared statement of
Bhatia, Hon. Eduardo, Designee for the Minority Leader of the Senate-Popular Democratic Party, Senate of Puerto Rico
Prepared statement of
Cintron-Garcia, Hon. Angel M., Designee for the Speaker of the House, Puerto Rico House of Representatives, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Prepared statement of
Colon, Rafael Hernandez, former Governor of Puerto Rico, Ponce, Puerto Rico
Prepared statement of
Fonalledas, Zoraida F., Republican National Committeewoman, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Prepared statement of
Irizarry, Hon. Carlos Vizcarrondo, Popular Democratic Party, Puerto Rico House of Representatives, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Irizarry-Mora, Prof. Edwin, Economic Advisor, Puerto Rican Independence Party, Puerto Nuevo, Puerto Rico
Prepared statement of
Mari, Emilio A. Soler, President, Puerto Rican Democratic Action Foundation, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPrepared statement of
Martin-Garcia, Hon. Fernando, Designee for the Puerto Rican Independence Party, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Prepared statement of
McClintock-Hernandez, Kenneth, Designee for the President of the Senate, Senate of Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Prepared statement of
Miranda-Marín, Hon. William, the Mayor of Caguas, Caguas, Puerto Rico
Additional remarks by
Morales-Coll, Eduardo, President, Ateneo Puertorriqueno, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Prepared statement of
Pietri, Ivar, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Prepared statement of
Reichard, Hector, Esquire, President, Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce, Washington, DC
Rodriguez-Orellana, Hon. Manuel, Designee for the Minority Leader of the Senate-Puerto Rican Independence Party, Senate of Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Prepared statement of
Valle, Etienne Totti Del, Esquire, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Prepared statement of
Velasco, Ramón L., President, Association of Pro-Commonwealth Attorneys
Velez, Hon. Damaris Mangual, Designee for the House Minority Leader-Puerto Rican Independence Party, Puerto Rico House of Representatives, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Prepared statement of
Vila, Hon. Anibal Acevedo, President, Popular Democratic Party, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPrepared statement of
Additional material supplied:
Agostini, Juan Antonio, Spokesman, Direcive Board, prepared statement of
Cardona, Hector Reichard de, Chamber of Conmerce, of Puerto Rico, prepared statement of
Fermin, Manuel Arraiza, Presidente, Colegio de Abogados de Puerto Rico, prepared statement of
Gonzalez, Hon. Ferdinand Lugo, Representative, District 19, Mayagüez, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, prepared statement of
Ramos, Luis Vega, President, PROELA, prepared statement of
PUERTO RICO STATUS
SATURDAY, APRIL 19, 1997
House of Representatives,
Committee on Resources,
San Juan, PR.
The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:55 a.m. at the Drama Theater at the Centro De Bellas Artes Luis A. Ferre, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Hon. Don Young (Chairman of the Committee) presiding.
Mr. YOUNG. The Committee will come to order.
It is my intention to make an opening statement; and then I will recognize Mr. Miller, then Mr. Kennedy, then Mr. Underwood and, in closing, Commissioner Romero-Barceló.
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STATEMENT OF THE HON. DON YOUNG, A U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM ALASKA; AND CHAIRMAN, COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
Mr. YOUNG. It is a pleasure to be in Puerto Rico to continue the work of Congress in resolving Puerto Rico's status. I believe the hearings today in San Juan and Monday in Mayaguez on the United States-Puerto Rico Political Status Act, H.R. 856, are an important part of the process leading to a response of the Puerto Rican House Concurrent Resolution 2 of January 23rd of this year, asking for a federally authorized vote on Puerto Rico's political status before the end of 1998.
As a person from Alaska, when we approached Puerto Rico yesterday I was stunned again by the shear beauty of the island's mountains, the greenness of those mountains, the white beaches and blue tropical sea, as I looked out over those beaches today and last night.
Another fact that struck me as I looked out over historic San Juan was the realization that the population of this city is twice the size of the entire State of Alaska. What an island! It is no wonder the islands of Puerto Rico have been so prized and the object of many battles during the past centuries, including the Spanish-American War in 1898.
In fact, the principal reason we are here today dates back to when the U.S. flag was being hoisted nearly 100 years ago. A legitimate question has since been raised and has yet to be answered: Should the United States flag in Puerto Rico remain as it is today, be eliminated, or replaced by a flag with an additional star? Each choice has a corresponding effect on how it shall be applied to the United States Constitution and nationality and citizenship.
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While the U.S. Constitution follows the flag, Congress determines the extent of the application, and today in Puerto Rico the U.S. Constitution applies only in part. United States nationality also follows the flag and the U.S. Constitution, which in Puerto Rico today is both U.S. nationality and statutory U.S. citizenship. This is one of the fundamental questions with related issues we are attempting to resolve through these hearings.
Last month, the House Committee on Resources began the consideration of the United States-Puerto Rico Political Status Act, H.R. 856, with testimony in Washington from six Members of Congress, the Governor of Puerto Rico, the three political party presidents of Puerto Rico and the Administration. Their views are only the beginning of the record which will be added to by the statements which will be presented here today in San Juan and Monday in Mayaguez. It is not the location of the hearings where the statement is given that is important. It is the substance of the testimony that is important.
During congressional consideration last year of the United States-Puerto Rico Political Status Act, numerous thoughtful and meaningful suggestions were offered in testimony. Before the end of the 104th Congress in 1996, over 30 major and minor changes were incorporated into the bill, which was reintroduced this year as H.R. 856. I expect many of the proposals presented during these hearings will result in additional changes to the current bill, H.R. 856.
However, the bill's fundamental structure for resolving Puerto Rico's political status has broad bipartisan support in Congress. The multi-staged approach is sound and offers the best approach to address the many legal, economic and political issues that are a part of this self-determination process. A multi-staged process will ensure that each step taken is manageable and practical, both for the United States and Puerto Rico. In addition, the bill guarantees that the people of Puerto Rico will have the final say in each stage of the process. Although after these hearings the Congress will enact the law defining the terms of the process and any change in status, the people of Puerto Rico will have the final say in approving each step in the path to full self-government.
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In order to obtain a broad cross-section of the views of the people of Puerto Rico regarding their political status preference and this process, a large number of witnesses have been invited to appear before this Committee. I appreciate the cooperation of each participant in complying with Congressional rules which are required in other hearings throughout the nation.
Before we begin with our panel of the distinguished witnesses and hearing opening statements representing the three political parties of Puerto Rico, followed by elected officials and other leaders, I want to share a part of a letter I received after our hearings on this bill in San Juan on March 23rd of last year from Pilar Barbosa Rosario, Official Historian of Puerto Rico. This is still in my possession. It says:
''Greetings to my friend Don Young.
''This is a personal note written, March 24th, 1996.
''As daughter of Jose Celso Barbosa and Official Historian of Puerto Rico, I try to be impartial and see other points of view. But when you are almost 99 years of age and have done research for 45 years, from 1921 to 1966, on Barbosa's private and public life, it is quite difficult to maintain completely neutral in our historical interpretations.
''Let me congratulate all persons involved in preparing the hearing. The hearing was well organized and the people involved, Congressmen, visitors and Puerto Ricans, we all learned a lot.
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''To me it was a demonstration that in spite of our colonial status Puerto Ricans have developed and adapted American democracy to our own political ideologies. They are a product of our relations with the U.S. but adapted to our Puerto Rican way of life, different from U.S. and different from other Caribbean nations and Hispanic-American countries. To us Puerto Ricans that is not surprising but to our visitors from the U.S., Hawaii or Latin America, it is something uniqueit is Puerto Rican.
''So help us God that Pilar Barbosa could live three more years to see what all this results in. So help me God, it is now or never.
''Sincerely yours, Pilar Barbosa Rosario.''
I was saddened to hear of our loss earlier this year with the passing of Doña Pilar. What a grand lady and fellow citizen. Her opinion regarding this process to resolve Puerto Rico's political status deserves respect and should be treasured, particularly as one who was born in the 19th century, before the United States flag was raised in Puerto Rico.
I believe her hopes for the results within 3 years will happen. Now definitely is the time for Congress to formally start the process to permit the people of Puerto Rico to vote to continue local self-government under Commonwealth, separate sovereignty or statehood. There is a serious determination in Congress to solve Puerto Rico's status problem as a top priority of national importance. I also believe that everyone who participates in these hearings on the United States-Puerto Rico Political Status Act, or any other part of the bill's self-determination process, will contribute to the final resolution of Puerto Rican status, and will in fact 1 day ''see what all this results in.''
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The gentleman from California.
STATEMENT OF THE HON. GEORGE MILLER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. MILLER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I am delighted to be here this morning for these hearings, to be in Puerto Rico; and I want to thank our colleague, Carlos Romero-Barceló, for the invitation to come to Puerto Rico to conduct these hearings and thank him and the people for their hospitality.
My statement will be very short. I think these are very important hearings; I think these are very timely hearings; and, hopefully, these hearings are such that they will allow us to draw to a conclusion the question that has remained open so very long, both here in Puerto Rico and in the United States, and that is the status, the permanent status, of Puerto Rico.
That is a decision that I have tried to maintain from the outset. It is a decision for the people of Puerto Rico. It is a decision that will then have to be accepted by the Congress of the United States; and, therefore, we must have a very frank and a very open process to help us arrive at that decision.
I believe that after many false starts, many misrepresentations, that this process is, in fact, different. I believe that this process can, in fact, at the end provide for the status determination of Puerto Rico.
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I look forward to the testimony of our witnesses. I hope they bring to these hearings a spirit of cooperation and of helping us to make the determinations. There are many considerations that we will have to make at the conclusion of these hearings so that this process can carry forth the commitment for the resolution of this issue after its conclusion, and I look forward to these hearings and the ones on Monday and look forward to hearing from the witnesses today.
Thank you very much.
Mr. YOUNG. I thank the gentleman from California.
The gentleman from Rhode Island, Mr. Kennedy?
STATEMENT OF THE HON. PATRICK J. KENNEDY, A U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM RHODE ISLAND
Mr. KENNEDY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for calling these hearings and thank you for introducing the United States-Puerto Rico Status Act, H.R. 856, which I have been proud to cosponsor with you.
This legislation has inspired what Governor Rossello has called ''a defining moment for Puerto Rico.'' For almost a century, the people of Puerto Rico have contributed to the social, economic and cultural history of the United States of America. They have fought alongside other Americans in war, and they have shared our times of domestic struggle. It is only fitting that the Congress act to extend to the people of Puerto Rico the opportunity to enjoy the full and complete measure of the rights and privileges that are commensurate with the full application of the Constitution.
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As Governor Ferre has said, with citizenship comes certain rights and responsibilities. And as a strong proponent myself of adding the shining star of the Caribbean to our own flag of the United States, I want to say that I eagerly await the plebiscite that is sanctioned by this legislation.
It has been my long-standing belief that times have changed for Puerto Rico. Where Commonwealth status was a good beginning, I believe that living for today means living for statehood. The time is right for the island to take its place at the table of States and receive its share and entitled share of opportunities. If we want to talk about equality for all Puerto Ricans, we should give them a voice in the government that affects their lives.
As my good friend Carlos Romero-Barceló has said, ''Our Nation cannot continue to preach democracy throughout the world while it continues to disenfranchise and deny political participation and economic equality to 3.8 million people of its own citizens.''
Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you once again for conducting these hearings. I look forward to the testimony we will receive today; and, again, it is great to be back in this beautiful island of Puerto Rico.
Thank you very much.
Mr. YOUNG. I thank the gentleman.
The gentleman from Guam has a great interest in this process, too. Mr. Underwood.
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STATEMENT OF THE hon. robert a. underwood, a u.s. delegate from the territory of guam
Mr. UNDERWOOD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Good morning, and thank you, Mr. Chairman, and our good friend, the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, Carlos Romero-Barceló, for the opportunity to be here in beautiful Puerto Rico.
Today and on Monday the Committee will hear from representatives of various points of view and from all segments of Puerto Rican society about the most fundamental issue any people can deal withtheir political future. The seriousness of this issue is underscored by the attention given to the hearings here in Puerto Rico and, of course, the spirit of the people as is reflected in the highly charged demonstrations.
The process of conducting congressional hearings depends upon a sense of fairness and commitment and the leadership of those committees which conduct those hearings; and I am pleased to acknowledge the leadership of this Committeeyourself, Mr. Chairman, Don Young, and the Ranking Member, George Millerthat while they may not agree on many issues before the Nation, they certainly agree that Puerto Rico deserves a fair hearing in Puerto Rico.
This is a level of commitment which not only reflects well upon the leadership of the Committee but the importance and seriousness of the issues which we will be confronting and have been confronting on this issue.
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Mr. Young's project, as it is reported here in the press, is in reality part of a larger project all of us continue to labor in. All of us are participants in the great American project, the project of perfecting democracy; and the project continues whether the issues before us are about racial injustice, ethnic division, equal opportunity, the appropriate relationship between States and the Federal Government and, as it is today, the relationship between the Federal Government and an appendage, a separate body politic to that government.
In the case before us today, that entity is Puerto Rico; and, in its existing form, the Commonwealth is described in various ways, depending upon one's vision for the future. It is a colony seeking first-class citizenship. It is a freely associated State. It is a nation awaiting deliverance.
I don't think this it is for us to decide. I think that is for the people of Puerto Rico to decide in concert with the Federal Government; and I think our responsibility as a Committee is to ensure that the process which is ultimately developed allows for fairness and, most importantly, closure.
It should be a process which does not move the people to a choice out of desperation or frustration; and it should be a process in which the options are clear and direct, at least on the ballot. I think we can leave it up to elected officials later during campaign season to mischaracterize each other's positions. It should be a process which leads to change, if this is the desire of the Puerto Rican people.
This is why in your legislation, Mr. Chairman, the Federal Government's responsibility to act is so important in this legislation. The Federal responsibility must be consistent with the modern 21st century understanding of decolonization, and it must lead to a process which forces expeditious action.
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My role in the process is unique. I represent an island which is seeking resolution of its own political status. I share more in common with the Resident Commissioner than with other Members of the House of Representatives. I represent an island which came under the U.S. flag through the treaty of Paris ending the Spanish-American war.
In the March hearing in Washington, Governor Rossello stated that Puerto Rico has been a colony longer under the U.S. flag than anyone else. Guam was invaded by U.S. Marines in June of 1898, and Puerto Rico's experience came a month later. So we win on that score.
Due to our similarities as historical appendages to the Federal politic and due to our common colonization even by Spain, which dates back 325 years for Guam, I feel a special responsibility not to evaluate the efforts of the Puerto Rican people but instead to facilitate the aspirations of the people to move toward the full decolonization of their homeland. And I believe that, under your leadership, the Committee comes to this hearing with open hearts as well as open ears.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. YOUNG. I thank the gentleman from Guam.
It is my great honor now to introduce someone who does not need introduction. The gentleman has led this program for many, many years, my good friend, Don Carlos. He has done well. He is not only a good member of my Committee, I think he does an excellent job in Washington for Puerto Rico.
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STATEMENT OF THE HON. CARLOS A. ROMERO-BARCELÓ, RESIDENT COMMISSIONER FROM THE COMMONWEALTH OF PUERTO RICO
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and thank you to the other Members.
I would like to begin my remarks today by welcoming back all of the Committee members to the beautiful capital of San Juan, the oldest city in the United States. San Juan was colonized and became a city in 1521. That was quite a bit before St. Augustine in Florida. As a matter of fact, it was our first Governor, Ponce de Leon, who was the first European to start the colonization of what is now the United States of America.
I want to commend you, Mr. Chairman, for your initiative in scheduling these two hearings on H.R. 856, the United States-Puerto Rico Political Status Act, and for your commitment to achieving full self-government and ending the disenfranchisement of the 3.8 million U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico. Thanks to your leadership on this issue, we have been able to reach the point where we are today.
In addition, I want to take this opportunity to thank our Ranking Minority Member, my good friend, George Miller, for his efforts in helping to provide a process in which Puerto Ricans will have the opportunity to decide freely, without ambiguity and decisively on what the island's future relationship with the United States should be.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I want to thank my colleagues, Patrick Kennedy and Bob Underwood, for also taking time out of this congressional recess to be here with us and for giving this issue the importance they have already given to it. Their participation is very meaningful not only to me personally but I am sure to all of the people of Puerto Rico.
Last, but not least, I want to thank the 84 Members of Congress and the 12 Members of the Senate who have already cosponsored this legislation. It is clear that the U.S. Congress has finally made it a top priority to resolve the Puerto Rican status issue, and the bipartisan consensus grows every day for a federally sponsored plebiscite next year.
The Clinton administration has also joined in expressing its support for this process. During the Committee's hearing in Washington last month, the President's spokesperson, Jeffrey Farrow, stated that establishing a process that would enable the people of Puerto Rico to decide their future relationship with the United States was President Clinton's highest priority regarding this island.
In addition, he indicated that the President hoped that such a process would be under way next year, the centennial of the U.S. acquisition of the islands.
It was also mentioned that the President looked forward to our entering the new millennium having concluded the debate and implementing the will of the Puerto Rican people.
So make no mistake about it. After 100 years, the Puerto Rican colonial dilemma has finally become a national issue and one that two active branches of the Federal Government recognize has to be resolved as soon as possible.
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Mr. Chairman, the hearings that this Committee will be celebrating here today and next Monday are truly historic in nature. The members of this Committee will have an opportunity to hear from over 50 witnesses representing all of the political spectrum of the island. I do not recall a hearing in any of my Committees during my tenure in Congress where we had so many witnesses to testify on one single subject.
In that regard, Mr. Chairman, these hearings are unprecedented; and you and Mr. Miller are to be praised for the fairness, the openness and inclusiveness of this process. The Committee has tried to receive the widest input from as many people and sectors as possible; and everyone who has expressed interest has been given the opportunity to participate and state his or her point of view, either by submitting a written statement or by testifying personally.
Back on March 3rd, 1997, exactly 80 years and 1 day after Puerto Ricans were granted U.S. citizenship, Chairman Young and Congressman Miller sent a letter to the presidents of the three political parties in Puerto Rico, requesting them to submit to Congress the status definition which they believe would be most appropriate for the status option they supported.
While the party presidents were assured that the specific definitions regarding their status preferences would be presented to all of the Committee members for consideration at the time of the markup, Mr. Young and Mr. Miller were clear in stating that there was no purpose in presenting the people of Puerto Rico a status definition which does not represent an option that the Congress will be willing to ratify should it be approved in a plebiscite.
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If there is something to be learned from our previous locally sponsored plebiscites, it is that the only way that we will be able to finalize once and for all this frustrating debate is if the U.S. Congress clarifies what the options really are and how it is willing to implement the people's choice. Only then will the people of Puerto Rico be able to reach an informed decision on their future. No more false promises; no more wish-lists. The people of Puerto Rico need realistic and viable options, and it is our responsibility as Members of Congress to provide them with those options.
During today's hearing we will have the opportunity to hear from, among others, the three party presidents or their representatives, all of whom submitted a response to Chairman Young and Mr. Miller's request.
The new Progressive Party was in full agreement with the definition of statehood that was included in the bill and did not submit any changes.
The Independence Party proposed some minor changes to the definition that I am sure will be discussed in more detail here today.
But we should not be concerned with these two definitions, because they are clear. In the case of statehood, there are 50 more examples; and everyone knows what independence means and what it entails.
It is the definition of the so-called new Commonwealth that concerns us, because, once again, the Popular Party was given the opportunity to come up with a definition of Commonwealth that is constitutional, realistic, viable and, most of all, a definition that the U.S. Congress can accept.
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Unfortunately, it is quite evident that the definition of the new Commonwealth submitted by the Popular Party does not meet the aforementioned requirements. Basic attributes of the proposed definition, such as the permanent nature of the relationship, the mutual consent language, the existence of a compact, the constitutional guarantee of U.S. citizenship, and the equality of treatment under Federal programs without income taxes are clearly unacceptable to Congress because they are either unconstitutional, unrealistic, politically unacceptable or all of the above.
First of all, the so-called Commonwealth status can never be permanent in nature, precisely because it is a colonial relationship which the U.S. cannot maintain. The president of the Popular Party, Anibal Acevedo Vila, was the first one to admit this fact in the congressional hearings that were held in Washington last March 19th.
It is clear the Congress cannot constitutionally bind itself never to alter the current or any future territorial relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico nor renounce its constitutional power under the territorial clause which states that Congress shall have the power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States, article 4, section 3.
As long as Puerto Rico remains an unincorporated territory, the U.S. Congress retains the authority to act unilaterally and to determine which Federal laws will apply or not in Puerto Rico.
But what strikes me as the most absurd of the statements in the definition is the claim that Puerto Rico be an autonomous body politic, sovereign over matters covered by the Constitution of Puerto Rico, while at the same time demanding that Congress guarantee forever the U.S. citizenship of persons born on the island with the same rights, privileges and immunities provided for in the U.S. Constitution.
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Once again, the Popular Party talks about the rights, privileges and benefits of U.S. citizenship; but the words responsibility and obligation are nowhere to be seen in their definition.
Furthermore, the fact is that the current citizenship status of persons born in Puerto Rico exists at the discretion of Congress. Because the Constitution has been partially extended to Puerto Rico, particularly the fundamental rights of due process and equal protection, Congress obviously cannot exercise its discretion in an arbitrary and irrational way. But the suggestion that the current citizenship can be guaranteed forever and it is irrevocable by future Congresses is dangerously misleading. No such statutory status can bind a future Congress from exercising its constitutional authority and responsibility under the territorial clause.
In the U.S. constitutional system, equal political rights come with full and equal citizenship based on birth in one of the States of the Union or naturalization. Birth on an unincorporated territory like Puerto Rico does not confer a citizenship status protected by the 14th amendment of the Constitution, as indicated by the fact that the U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico do not have the same economic and political rights as citizens of the States; and Puerto Rico is subject to laws passed by the U.S. Congress in which they have no voting representation.
It is time for the pretense and the partisan mischief to end. It is time for all of us to put hypocrisy aside and be truthful about what the real choices are for Puerto Ricans. It is time to decide if we want to have full self-government and full empowerment that will allow us to search for a brighter future in equality with our fellow citizens, or we would rather live hanging on to an outdated colonial relationship of the past.
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As we approach a century of U.S. sovereignty over Puerto Rico, the time has come to empower the people by giving them clear choices which they understand and which are truly decolonizing so we can reveal Puerto Rico's true desire through a lifetime act of self-determination.
Mr. Chairman and fellow members, I want to once again thank you for your interest and attention to this vitally important issue. I look forward to the testimony of our distinguished guests and to further congressional action on this subject. The 3.8 million U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico deserve no less.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. YOUNG. Thank you. I thank the gentleman.
We now will have the first panel, the Honorable Charlie Rodriguez, the designee for the New Progressive Party, San Juan, Puerto Rico; the Honorable Anibal Acevedo Vila, President, Popular Democratic Party, San Juan, Puerto Rico; the Honorable Fernando Martin-Garcia, designee for the Puerto Rican Independence Party, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Please take your seats.
Gentlemen, because you are representatives of the three different parties today, I will use a little discretion and allow you more time than the 5 minutes. We will try to keep to the 5-minute rule, but with respect to your individual positions, I will be very lenient for a moment as long as you don't go on all day.
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CharlieMr. Rodriguez, you are up first.
STATEMENT OF HON. CHARLIE RODRIGUEZ, DESIGNEE FOR THE NEW PROGRESSIVE PARTY, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
Mr. RODRIGUEZ. Thank you.
Good morning, Chairman Young, Ranking Democrat George Miller, Congressman Romero-Barceló, members of the Resources Committee. On behalf of Governor Pedro Rossello and the 3.7 million U.S. citizens, welcome to Puerto Rico.
Today I come before you wearing two hats, representing the New Progressive Party of which the Governor is president, and as the president of the Puerto Rico Senate. In both capacities I support the Committee's tireless efforts over the last 3 years in the exercise of its responsibilities under the Constitution's Territorial Clause toward crafting Federal legislation that will finally offer Puerto Ricans, for the first time, the right to freely determine their political status and to resolve our century-old political relationship with the United States under a congressionally sponsored plebiscite.
We have talked long enough in Puerto Rico about our political status. We have talked for 100 years. It is time now to act and to find out how strong is the creed of equality, democratic values, and pluralism of our Nation once the voice of the people of Puerto Rico is heard in the proposed 1998 plebiscite.
I want to make three essential points:
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First, that the constitutional integrity of the status options offered in the 1998 plebiscite must not be compromised. These options must reflect what is constitutionally attainable within the powers of Congress under the Territorial Clause. They must honestly describe to the people of Puerto Rico what is legally possible, not what is in consistent with the Constitution, impractical economically or politically, or subject to the vicissitudes of future negotiations. The people of Puerto Rico are closely monitoring these events, and they are expecting a clear and precise message from Congress of what may constitutionally be offered in the definitions of the three competing formulas.
For these reasons, the Committee should adopt, in their entirety, the three status option definitions as set forth in the proposed legislation. Congress must state with clarity that U.S. citizenship cannot exist in a status formula with sovereign powers.
Second, it is important that the process you have developed to provide for full self-government for the island through a self-deposition of the people of Puerto Rico in conjunction with the Federal Government must not be compromised. It is crucial that the process be sound, all inclusive, and provides a peaceful, democratic, and internationally recognized process for all persons, parties, and interests in the island to finally resolve Puerto Rico's 500-year old march toward decolonization.
Finally, your presence here today is due in part to the initiative of the Puerto Rico Legislature's two concurrent resolutions seeking Congress's response to our island's ambiguous political status left unresolved by the 1993 plebiscite. We hope to continue to work with you to realize our objective, a 1998 plebiscite in which full self-government for Puerto Rico is initiated.
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As the Governor's representative, I want to reaffirm our party's support of the definition of statehood contained in H.R. 856. We believe it fairly and accurately reflects both the benefits and obligations that Statehood entails. It should be adopted in its entirety as a stated valid option for the status plebiscite scheduled for 1998.
Puerto Ricans should be well informed of what statehood means under this definition. They should know that statehood is the only formula that guarantees our U.S. citizenship, putting us on equal footing with all other Americans. They should know that statehood is the only formula that guarantees the protection of the U.S. Constitution. They should know that statehood is the only formula that guarantees the Presidential vote and the election of two Senators and at least six Members of Congress who will shape the laws that affect our daily lives.
They should also know that statehood is the only formula that guarantees Americans citizenship to our children, grandchildren, and all future generations born in Puerto Rico. They should know that only statehood guarantees the entire application and full funding of Federal programs, which will be provided to the State of Puerto Rico on parity with the rest of the States of the Union.
They should know, too, that these benefitscitizenship, equal rights, full fundingcarry with them the duty to pay Federal income tax, a duty that will ultimately be offset by a corresponding reduction in island taxes as Federal funds compensate for local outlays.
They should know that the 51st State of Puerto Rico can continue to have both Spanish and English as its official State languages, a right reserved and guaranteed to all other States under the Constitution's 10th Amendment, a right that can only be changed through a constitutional amendment made applicable to all the States, not just one or a few.
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They should know the commitment of our Nation to democratic values, multiculturalism, and pluralism, all central to the American Dream.
One thing we already know is that when the Nation has required our presence in the battlefields in the First and Second World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, and Bosnia, we have been in the front lines, attesting to our commitment to democratic values and ideals.
I invite you to visit the memorial dedicated by the people of Puerto Rico dedicated to the hundreds of citizens, the people who made the ultimate sacrifice of their Nation. This memorial is located on the south side of our Capitol.
Puerto Ricans are so committed to our American citizenship and to our relation with our Nation that in a poll conducted by a local paper on July 23, 1990, 43.5 percent expressed that if Puerto Rico became a sovereign nation, they would move to the continental United States; 42 percent said they would remain; and 15 expressed to be undecided. The poll revealed that 60 percent of our youth would move to the United States. If the same question were polled today, the numbers would be even higher than those in 1990.
In a more recent poll, 91 percent of those interviewed stated that U.S. citizenship was very important. Surprisingly, 53 percent of independence supporters polled said they consider U.S. citizenship very important.
In sum, the statehood definition clearly and precisely declares to voters that it is the only formula that puts Puerto Rico on an equal footing with all the other States and confers on its residents the same constitutional rights and responsibilities as all other U.S. citizens enjoy.
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Chairman Young, as stated in the letter signed by you and Chairmen Burton, Gallegly, and Gilman on February 9, 1996, in response to the 1993 plebiscite, I quote: There is a need for Congress to define the real options for change and the true legal and political nature of the status quo, so that the people can know what the actual choices will be in the future, end of quote.
That you have accomplished with H.R. 856. The status options as defined in the bill meet your criteria. They should stand as written, or otherwise the self-determination process will be compromised, as it was in 1993.
The process is important. The 1998 plebiscite campaign will be free of the demagoguery and rhetoric characteristic of past status votes where one party or the other impugned the legality of one or more of the options or questioned Congress's willingness to implement the results.
Rather, this campaign will be waged on the merits of the status options, what is good for Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans, what can be done, and the implications of choosing one path over the other.
Second, the bill encompasses all status options, thereby establishing its credibility and claim to inclusiveness. Every legitimate internationally recognized status option is offered to voters of every persuasion, a democratic process that denies no one their say but one which recognizes that the majority rules.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Putting on my Senate hat, let us remember that it was a Puerto Rico legislature that requested Congress to respond to the results of our 1993 plebiscite in which none of the options, for the first time since 1952, received a majority vote among our electorate.
H.R. 856 is the final manifestation of Congress's response to our two concurrent resolutions, and, as I have stated already, it is a clear and definite framework, providing both legitimate status options capable of implementation and a self-determination process consistent with democratic norms and internationally accepted practices. H.R. 856 should be enacted as written.
With your continual assistance, Puerto Rico and the residents of this island will enter the next millennium confident in their future as first class American citizens, confident in their future and the American Dream.
The conscience of the democratic world will be closely watching this process. The international community will finally judge the firmness of our Nation in respecting the will of the people of Puerto Rico freely expressed in 1998, a democratic process which will be a test for the democratic institutions of our Nation.
Puerto Rico stands as the final frontier of the U.S. promise of the American Dream to all who live within its national borders. After 500 years of colonialism, 100 under the U.S. flag, it is time to provide the people of Puerto Rico with full and equal access to that dream, a dream whose constitutional underpinnings we have defended abroad with valor for over 80 years.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of this Committee.
Mr. YOUNG. I thank the gentleman.
I will allow that to a short degree, but not too much, because we have a long witness list. I appreciate the enthusiasm.
I noticeand I will go to the next witness in a momentI notice that you carefully said ''the final frontier.'' If you had stated ''the last frontier,'' I would have been mightily offended, because that is the motto of our State.
Now we have the president of the Popular Democratic Party. Mr. Vila, you are up.
STATEMENT OF THE HON. ANIBAL ACEVEDO VILA, PRESIDENT, POPULAR DEMOCRATIC PARTY, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
Mr. VILA. Good morning. It is a pleasure to welcome you to the Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. YOUNG. You have just taken some of the time away, and let's be very careful of what we are doing.
You are up.
Mr. VILA. In my previous experience before you, I expressed the views of our matter regarding the tenets of political formula to which we are audience here. It is, as you know, a formula that stresses the values and aspirations of the United States, preserving at the same time our distinct national and cultural identities. This is a status that has served the people of Puerto Rico well, that has allowed the sons and daughters of this island to work toward a common ideal of progress and well-being and to avoid the clashes between otherwise unaccommodating visions.
If improved, Commonwealth can serve both our people and your people even better. This is why we have tried for many years, and continue to try now, to allow our present status to achieve its full potential. It is not surprising then that our definition of ''Commonwealth''the way in which we describe the essence of our beliefsis neither new to our people nor alien to this Committee.
Accordingly, I do not come today to go once again over terrain that has been very well covered in the past. Today, I would like to address issues that are most significant for the process that you have commenced and that still wait to be discussed.
In this day and age, there is no right to self-determination if the process for its exercise is not adopted by consensus but by the sheer exercise of the will and power of one of the parties.
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May I, in this respect, point out two glaring defects of this bill besides others which we have mentioned in the past. This bill does not recognize the sovereignty of the people of Puerto Rico to freely choose among all the alternatives preferred by the different sectors of the Puerto Rican society.
Accordingly, it does not comply with the elemental requirements concerning the exercise of the right to self-determination, the need that the process be made subject to the approval of the people concerned or, at least, adopted by consensus of the leading political groups that represent the people.
The common history shared between Puerto Rico and the Congress has had two good examples of this. When Puerto Rico exercised, without exhausting, its self-determination right in 1950, the people validated the process proposed by Congress with its vote. Later, in the 198991 plebiscite process, the U.S. Congress validated that process by getting the support and consensus of the three political parties on the island.
As Chairman Young clearly stated, during that process back in 1990and I am quotinga referendum should only be authorized by Congress if it is to be fair to all parties and the statuses that they advocate.
That same principle was reaffirmed recently with regard to this process by the President of the United States, the Honorable William Jefferson Clinton, in a letter to the president of the Popular Democratic Party on April 4, 1997, where he states: I have made it clear that the Federal Government should offer the people of Puerto Rico serious and fair options that are responsive to their diverse aspirations for their islands.
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If, notwithstanding the fact that the procedure for the establishment of Commonwealth required the approval by the people, that process is not satisfactory to some of you, what could be said about this process that until now has been established unilaterally? Why not follow now the same consultation that governed the constitutional reforms in the 1950's? Why should this bill seek to impose a given procedure, tilting the table to favor a formula that has never commanded a majority in this society?
Or is it that half a century after we initiated the self-determination process, statehood followers have finally come to realize that the table needs tilting in order to prevent another defeat for statehood? Is it that you are now willing to follow them in such a monumental hoax?
This is not a question of naked power to do something, as debates concerning this bill have pitifully assumed. This is a question of honest statesmanship and solemn respect or the principles of democracy and government by consent.
Before this bill goes further, you might as well tell, loud and clear, whether you are willing to honor the procedural principles of self-determination that have governed the proposals for changes in our relations or whether you pretend to impose the rules unilaterally.
We must assume that the joint letter from Congressmen Young and Miller of March 3, 1997, giving the three political parties an opportunity to present a new definition for each formula, and this second round of hearings before the Committee is a new approach of openness, to have a referendum fair to all parties and the statuses they advocate, and to revise the provisions, findings, and assumptions of this bill which have, until now, made impossible any meaningful participation for us.
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On March 19, I submitted the definition of the new Commonwealth to this Committee. It describes the minimum content of our aspirations. It is substantially similar to the ''Commonwealth'' definition included in the Committee report of H.R. 4765, a bill approved unanimously by the full House of Representatives on October 10, 1990.
The definition of the new ''Commonwealth,'' as well as the definition of ''statehood'' and ''independence'' included in the report to H.R. 4756 and approved by this Committee and the whole House, were the result of intense discussions and study, after which the definitions presented by the three parties were modified before being adopted by the House.
The report on H.R. 4765 stated specifically that inclusion of the definitionand I quoteconstitute a good faith commitment to consider those matters contained in the conceptual descriptions of the status that receives majority support in the referendum in responding to the expression of will by the Puerto Rican people.
The record saidand I am still quotingthese descriptions cannot be fairly termed wish lists . . . this section would pledge that the Committees will seriously and fully review and respond to the proposals.
In short, there was no absolutely no legal impediment to the adoption and enforcement of the Commonwealth option there, and there is none now. The only thing needed is your political will and your commitment to fair play.
What should be under discussion now before Congress is what best serves the interests of all parties to the present process and how to give meaningful content to Puerto Rico's right to self-determination without artificially raised or dubious legalisms to obscure the nature of the policy decisions required.
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These are not times to be narrow minded. We must build on our past and look to the future. Europe is currently creating a whole new and dynamic relationship which includes a common market, common citizenship, and most likely common currency, and he United States has to look to the future with an attitude that will encourage, not impede, this type of arrangement.
The development of the new Commonwealth is consistent with these modern tendencies of national reaffirmation and political and economic interdevelopment among the peoples of the world. The majority of Puerto Ricans believe in autonomy and self-government with U.S. citizenship as a bond with the United States. The current status of Puerto Rico needs development, not demolition. Thus
So far, I have expressed myself in English in an effort to facilitate your understanding of our positions and underscore the claim of inclusion that my party has been stressing since my first appearance last month. Now, I want to express myself from the heart, and because my heart thinks, feels, and dreams in Spanish, it can only speak in Spanish.
Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico es un pueblo orgulloso de su identidad, de su cultura, de su idioma. Algunos pequeños incidentes dramatizan nuestro sentido de identidad propia. Recuerdo como si fuera hoy, la ilusión y la an- y luego la angustia cuando apenas tenía dieciséis años, de las Olimpiadas de Montreal por momentos, nuestro equipo de baloncesto parecía que iba a triunfar sobre el de Estados Unidos, para después terminar derrotado. Recuerdo. . . Y se me aprieta el corazón. . . Una noche aquí en San Juan, en los juegos Panamericanos de 1979, cuando un Puertorriqueño, nadando en el uniforme de los Estados Unidos, ganó una medalla de oro para los Estados Unidos. Esa atleta sacó de su uniforme una pequeña bandera Puertorriqueña en señal clara que para él, aquella medalla también era nuestra. Y recuerdo . . . [Applause] Y recuerdo . . . [Applause] Y recuerdo como todo un estadio . . . Miles de personas, nos pusimos de pie para entonar nuestro himno, La Borinqueña, en un reclamo de que aquella medalla era nuestra.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC En mis treinta y cinco años, he visto y vivido orgullo y compromiso de este pueblo, con mantener su relación con los Estados Unidos y especialmente, su ciudadanía Americana. Recuerdo claramente. . . [Applause] Recuerdo claramente a nuestros soldados, cumpliendo con su obligación, partiendo orgullosamente a defender los principios y derechos de los Estados Unidos, con la bandera Americana adherida a su uniforme militar y la bandera Puertorriqueña en sus manos. Esa es la realidad del Puertorriqueño de entrar al nuevo milenio. Esa es la realidad que solo puede armonizar el Estado Libre Asociado. Esa es la realidad . . . [Applause] Esa es la realidad. . . Que este proyecto pretende no reconocer, pero aún, peor aún. . . Pretende destruir. Ha quedado demostrado que este proyecto al tratar de destruir el ELA, tendría el efecto de obligar a los Puertorriqueños a escoger entre dos (2) soledades. La soledad de perder su identidad, lenguaje y cultura a cambio de preservar su ciudadanía. . . O la soledad de perder su ciudadanía a cambio de preservar su identidad. El Estado Libre Asociado . . . [Applause] El Estado Libre Asociado nos ha liberado de esta soledad, al permitirnos armonizar ambos tesoros. Hace treinta años, el Premio Nóbel de Literatura García Márquez escribió, ''Las estirpes condenadas a cien años de soledad. . . No tenían una segunda oportunidad sobre la tierra.'' Señores Congresistas, no somos una estirpe, somos un pueblo. Señores Congresistas, no condenen a Puerto Rico a ''cien años de soledad.'' Tenemos derecho a una segunda oportunidad y la estamos exigiendo. A nombre de mi pueblo, que es y sigue siendo mayoritariamente estadolibrista, me reafirmo en nuestro derecho, a entrar al nuevo milenio en harmonía con ustedes. . . Y con nuestro inquebrantable espíritu y esencia Puertorriqueño. Que el Señor los ilumine. Thank you.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Mr. Vila follows:]
INSERT OFFSET FOLIOS 1 TO 11 HERE
Mr. YOUNG. Fernando, you are next.
STATEMENT OF THE HON. FERNANDO MARTIN-GARCIA, DESIGNEE FOR THE PUERTO RICAN INDEPENDENCE PARTY, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
Mr. MARTIN-GARCIA. Members of Committee, I will be developing my testimony for the benefit of the people in Puerto Rico, and for your benefit I have provided you with a translation.
Mr. YOUNG. We have read that, Fernando. Thank you.
Mr. MARTIN-GARCIA. Señores miembros del Comité: Comparezco ante ustedes en representación de Rubén Darío Martínez, Presidente del Partido Independista Puertorriqueño del cual soy Vice-presidente. El Senador Berríos se encuentra hoy fuera de este edificio, donde el Partido Independentista ha convocado una manifestación de respaldo a la independencia de Puerto Rico. . . Y de rechazo a cualquier posible decisión por parte del Gobierno de los Estados Unidos de reubicar en Puerto Rico, al Comando Sur del Ejécito de los Estados Unidos. Las manifestaciones también rechaza los planes de la Marina de instalar en Puerto Rico el sistema de radar conocido como ''Sobre el Horizonte.''
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Constituye una contradicción, que mientras se plantea el diseño de un vehículo legislativo que aspira a descolonizar a Puerto Rico, las fuerzas armadas de Estados Unidos pretendan reforzar y ampliar su presencia en Puerto Rico. Hemos expresado ya esta propuesta a la Casa Blanca y nos proponemos hacerlo de manera formal próximamente.
Debo señalar además que hablemos de elevar nuestra denuncia ante la comunidad internacional y en particular, ante el Comité de Descolonización de Naciones Unidas.
El 31 de marzo, el Partido Independista envió al Comité la definición de la fórmula de independencia que proponemos sea incluido en el proyecto de la Cámara 856. Aunque la independencia es una condición política claramente definida en el Derecho Internacional, hemos elaborado una propuesta que describe dicha condición de forma sencilla y específica. En ella se precisa en primer lugar, el ámbito pleno de soberanía del que quedaría investido un Puerto Rico independiente tanto en sus asuntos internos como externos. Se afirma además, lo que en otras circunstancias históricas sería innecesario, que los Puertorriqueños tendrán su propia ciudadanía, es decir, la ciudadanía de la República de Puerto Rico.
Se También lo relativo a los derechos individuales adquiridos en el ámbito económico, como lo serían las pensiones del Gobierno Federal o bajo el Seguro Social y la Ley de Veteranos, pues aunque la continuidad de esos pagos no podría ser cuestionada y no mencionarlo específicamente pudiera generar incertidumbre entre los sectores más vulnerables de nuestra sociedad.
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Por último, la propuesta incluye algunos de los temas fundamentales, que inevitablemente habrían de ser incluidos en un futuro Tratado de Amistad y Cooperación entre ambas naciones. Estos incluyen la transición económica de la dependencia actual a la interdependencia equilibrada, el tránsito de bienes y personas entre Estados Unidos y Puerto Rico, y nuestra insistencia en el derecho de Puerto Rico a su eventual desmilitarización.
Debo expresarme ahora con respecto a las definiciones de las demás forrmulas que al presente se incluyen en el proyecto de ley, particularmente al status quo territorial, es decir el ELA actual, y la alternativa de la estadidad. Al desenmascarar la realidad colonial y territorial del Estado Libre Asociado, el Comité le da la razón a las renuncias que el independentismo Puertorriqueño ha venido haciendo consistentemente. . . Desde 1950 en todos los foros. Tiene además razón el Comité, al partir de la premisa de que del Derecho Constitucional Norteamericano, cualquier status que no sea la estadidad o la soberanía propia, ya sea ésta en la independencia o en la libre asociación, tiene forzosamente que ser uno de carácter territorial, colonial y temporero. Merece por ello, también reconocimiento que el proyecto subraye la precariedad de la actual condición territorial, al requerir que en el caso de que no las resultara en el apoyo mayoritario, el pueblo Puertorriqueño deberá volver a ser consultado a mediano plazo hasta que logre superar por voluntad propia, el status colonial.
La propuesta del nuevo ELA que tiene ustedes ahora ante su consideración, en nada modifica el carácter colonial del viejo ELA. Aún si el Congreso aceptara el intento de cuadrar el círculo constitucional que una vez más ha propuesto el liderato del partido popular, permanecería Puerto Rico sujeto a la aplicación unilateral de la legislación que los Estados Unidos creyera necesaria, y permanecería en nuestra Constitución y nuestras leyes, subordinadas a la Constitución de los Estados Unidos y a sus tribunales.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Estos vicios nada más bastarían para condenar la definición del nuevo ELA al mismo safacón colonial de su predecesor. [Applause] De la misma manera. . . De la misma manera que el Comité ha hablado con claridad y franqueza sobre el ELA actual, debe hacerlo también con respecto a este último y desesperado esfuerzo, de poner al día el fraude que en 1950 se perpetró contra nuestro pueblo. Con respecto a la estadidad [Applause] . . . Con respecto a la estadidad, por otro lado, estamos convencidos de que el enfoque del proyecto está profundamente equivocado. El realismo y el propósito de enmienda que el proyecto muestra en la aceptación del carácter colonial y territorial del ELA, no están presentes en la conceptualización de la alternativa estadista.
Con respecto a la estadidad, el proyecto encubre los criterios anticipables con que el Congreso evaluaría una petición de estadidad, que pudiera darse en un plebiscito de Puerto Rico, como resultado del miedo y la dependencia generada por el colonialismo. La raíz fundamental del problema, una que el proyecto peligrosamente ignora, es que Puerto Rico es una nación distinta a los Estados Unidos. Nunca en su historia [Applause] . . . Nunca en su historia se ha enfrentado los Estados Unidos a una petición de estadidad por parte de una nación diferente o por motivos tan perestres desesperados como los que llevarían a muchos Puertorriqueños a votar por ella.
Constituye un profundo error de juicio el creer que el problema político principal de la nación Puertorriqueña es la limitación de su franquicia electoral en lo que respecta al voto por el Presidente y el Congreso de los Estados Unidos. Eso es igual a pensar que el problema Palestino encontraría solución con la extensión de la franquicia electoral de Israel a los Palestinos de Gaza o de la margen occidental. Es no entender el por que la franquicia electoral Británica no fue suficiente para impedir la culminación de la independencia de Irlanda y la persistencia hoy día de esa misma lucha en Irlanda del Norte. O por que cada vez más que Quebecuas aspiran a su propia soberanía, a pesar de tener igualdad de derechos políticos con los demás ciudadanos del Canadá. Los Puertorriqueños no somos una minoría dispersa, desarticulada, o asimilada. . . Dentro de los Estados Unidos. Somos una nacionalidad Latinoamericana, hispano-parlante, que se ha formado a través de quinientos años, orgullosa de su identidad, y que tiene como asiento nacional un territorio Caribeño geográficamente definido donde su cultura nacional es indisputadamente dominante, en todas las manifestaciones de su vida colectiva. En este sentido tan crítico y tan transcendental, Puerto Rico no es Tejas o Alaska, o ni siquiera Hawai, donde los nativos de extracción Hawaiana, para la fecha de la estadidad en 1959, apenas constituían una pequeña minoría desplazada en su propia tierra, dominada por los anglos y homogenizada cultural y lingüísticamente a los Estados Unidos desde hacía mucho tiempo.
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¿Qué peso tiene para este Congreso, en lo que a la estadidad se refiere, que la inmensa mayoría del pueblo Puertorriqueño no está dispuesto a negociar nuestra identidad de pueblo y el prevenirlo de nuestro idioma vernáculo?
¿Qué peso tiene para este Congreso, que tanto el independentismo Puertorriqueño como el derecho internacional, insisten en la independencia como un derecho inalienable e irrenunciable de los pueblos, y que por lo tanto, nuestra lucha por la independencia continuaría como lucha por la secesión si Puerto Rico fuera un estado?
¿Qué peso tiene para este Congreso, el que aún bajo las premisas ms ilusorias de cualquier estadista, nunca habrá en Puerto Rico en el futuro predecible, nada que se aproxime a un consenso sustancial con respecto a la estadidad?
¿Qué peso tiene para este Congreso el que la motivación fundamental de una gran parte de los estadistas, no sea el afán de integrarse y asimilarse constructivamente a los Estados Unidos y a su cultura sino a la inseguridad económica y la dependencia que ha generado el colonialismo?
El Congreso debe buscar la forma de anticipar su juicio sobre estos temas cruciales o correr el riesgo de que la expresión electoral a favor de la estadidad sea una artificial y basada en premisas erróneas. En todo caso, tarde o temprano el Congreso tendría que enfrentar estos problemas.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Lo anterior no debe usarse como argumento para que no se apruebe un proyecto de plebiscito. Ello sería condenar a Puerto Rico al colonialismo por inacción. Sino un argumento para que el voto sea uno genuinamente informado a base de consideraciones que son previsibles y que son conocidas.
Y a claro al sector estadista desde ahora, cuales son los términos y condiciones referentes a las preguntas que he formulado y que este Congreso considera serían indispensables para que la estadidad pudiera ser una posibilidad real. No hacerlo solamente pospondrá el problema para un momento futuro, en el cual su manejo será más difícil y costoso para todas las partes.
Por último, quiero exhortar a los miembros de este Comité a que ejerzan sus mejores oficios para que el Presidente Clinton resuelva un asunto que tiene bajo su consideración en este momento y cuya adecuada resolución constituiría un gesto de buena fe que avalaría el compromiso del Gobierno de los Estados Unidos con la libre determinación. Se trata de la excarcelación de quince independentistas Puertorriqueños . . . [Applause] Que cumplen condenas de cárceles. . . De cárceles. . . Cárceles Federales por casos vinculados a la lucha por la independencia. La duración de las sentencias es absolutamente desproporcionada a los delitos por los cuales fueron convictos, y no cabe lugar a dudas de que consideraciones políticas dictaminaron la excesiva severidad de las sentencias. Les solicito que le expresen al Presidente que por razones tanto humanitarias como políticas, debe acceder a la conmutación de estas sentencias, asunto sobre el cual existe amplio apoyo en Puerto Rico, más allá de líneas partidistas.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Muchas gracias [Applause].
[The prepared statement of Mr. Martin-Garcia follows:]
INSERT OFFSET FOLIOS 12 TO 23 HERE
Mr. YOUNG. I want to thank all three honorable gentlemen for their testimony. And, Mr. Miller, I hope you were listening to some of the gentlemen's testimony instead of some radio station. Are you ready?
Mr. MILLER. Yes.
Mr. YOUNG. Mr. Miller.
Mr. MILLER. Thank you very much.
When I joined Congressman Young in sending a letter to the leaders of the three parties, it was with the belief that this debate within Puerto Rico has a long and important and quietly colorful history and part of the culture of Puerto Rico. And I want to tell the three of you that you adequately confirm my belief on that matter. I think it makes it all the more important in terms of our deliberations.
If I might, I want to maybe raise a couple of points, and please feel free, all of you, to respond.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC First, I think it is important that we think of this process as dealing with the future. I think it is very important that we understand that, that whatever actions the people of Puerto Rico take and the Congress of the United States takes, it will be about dealing with the future and not the past. That is part of the reason, again, that I sent the letter along with Congressman Young.
There is no question that throughout this process one of the parties will continue to characterize the other in the give and take of the political dialog and in the testimony that we have already received and will continue to receive.
I will say, however, that when I look at the definitions that were submitted for a new Commonwealth for our consideration when we get to the process of writing the legislation, my reading of it is that there is not much there that there is not some precedent for in previous actions within the Congress of the United States with our treatment of our own citizens or of our various relationships with territories under the control of the United States.
So I do not find it a terribly foreign concept. It is very similar to what this Committee reported in 1990, and it does arrive at a suggestion for the relationship in the future. Whether or not it can be represented as providing full citizenship or not, I am not convinced that it does that.
But it does recognize that, as we have established certainly in the past, there are certainly levels of citizenship and there are levels of citizenship that cannot be arbitrarily denied once granted under the Fifth Amendment. That does not just go to people born in the United States, those constitutional rights go with the responsibility of the Government not to be arbitrary and to be rational in its decisions.
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Those would be my comments on that, and you are free to comment on that.
Obviously, the definitions of ''statehood'' are various and speak for and, in fact, probably do provide for the full body of benefits of being a citizen of the United States and all of the responsibilities, and go to the question that our colleague has argued so very often in the Committees that I share with him, about how do we continue to justify treating citizens of the United States differently because of this status and how long can we continue to do that? I think that is clearly drawn into issue.
Mr. Martin, with respect to the basic, fundamental, ideological difference of those two positions and yours, again, very, very well articulated, if I understand you, you would suggest that statehood would not cleanse the stain of colonialism, that this is a relationship that eventually would erupt, would tear into the basic fabric of Puerto Rico.
Mr. MARTIN-GARCIA. Congressman, what I believe very firmly is that the right of self-determination of the Puerto Rican people, Puerto Rico cannot self-determine itself out of the right to self-determination. That is the right that assists us as a people, and certainly this generation cannot take it away from the next.
From my point of view, from the point of view of the independence movement, the right to struggle for our national independence would not in any way be hampered or impeded by the possibility of statehood.
I think it would be a grave mistake on the part of the United States to enter into such an unstable relationship when there is no consensus in Puerto Rico about it, there never will be, and when most people in Puerto Rico, who in my judgment are statehooders, and I know a lot of them are basically for reasons that have to do with insecurity, for reasons that have to do with fear, and very little of the kinds of things that have made people in the past join the union.
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This would be the first time in history where a different nation would be knocking at the doors of the United States, and it would mean, I think, a terrible precedent for the United States and one that it would have to think very clearly about.
The questions that I raised in my statement as to whether Congress is willing to face a petition of statehood for Puerto Rico, taking into account those matters, is one that I think raises matters that have to be made at some point explicit by the Congress; explicit, if through no other way, by some kind of sense of the Congress resolution, maybe using the kind of congressional policy statement that you have been using to build with respect to the language issue.
Certainly Congress must transmit to the people of Puerto Rico whether these issues are important issues. Is it important for the Congress for the people of Puerto Rico to somehow show a vocation and a willingness to assimilate into the mainstream of the United States? Not as a constitutional requirement, I am not talking about that, but as a political requirement, whether at some point the United States would be willing to accept a State in which a substantial minority of people are definitely opposed to statehoodnot merely cold toward the idea, but most definitely opposed to this notion.
I do not know what is going to be done with the pro-independence followers in the statehood. Maybe they will put us in a reservation of some sort.
Mr. MILLER. I would appreciate it if the audience, to some extent, could listen to the chair, because now your applause is now coming out of my time.
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Mr. YOUNG. Your time is up, by the way.
We will, if it is necessary, have a second round if you would like, if you could make it short.
Mr. MILLER. If they could just comment, if you do not mind.
Mr. YOUNG. Yes, if you would like to, but make it short, because then we have to go to the next one.
Mr. VILA. Well, I really appreciate your comments, and the fact that our party even represented a definition of a ''New Commonwealth'' is a direct consequence of the joint letter both of you sent to us that, as I say in my testimony, we see as an openness and a new approach that will allow us to participate.
In terms of looking to the future, that is one of the problems we have with this bill, because it wants to make a judgment that we cannot agree on the past. If we are going to look to the future, let us look to the future.
And the definition of a ''New Commonwealth'' that we presented is preciselyif someone has any doubts about what happened back in 1950 and 1952, let us do it the right way now. As you say, everything we have proposed, there is some experience in the United States with our proposition.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I just want to make one comment with regard to citizenship. As I see it, basically what you are meaning is that because we are not a State, U.S. citizens residing in Puerto Rico perhaps do not vote for a President and a Congressman, but it has nothing to do directly with citizenship. That is a problem of residence, if a U.S. citizen living outside the United States is not entitled to vote because he is not a resident of one of the 50 States.
We have heard a lot that we are second class citizens. In Royer v. Bailey, a case before the Supreme Court in 1971, the Supreme Court said, ''Neither we are persuaded that a condition subsequent from this area impressed one with second class citizenship.''
That cliche is too handy and too easy and, like most cliches, can be misleading. And perhaps that is one of the problems we have been having all this time; it is misleading.
Mr. RODRIQUEZ. I agree with you, Congressman, the statehood definition is a very clear definition. It is not a wishing list. This is something we know occurs with those who become full-fledged American citizens. How can we not see in as a civil rights issue?
It was the other week in Birmingham, Alabama, that I went to the Institute of Civil Rights and I saw there U.S. citizens fighting to have equal rights, the same rights that we are denied because we live in Puerto Rico, the same rights we are denied because we cannot vote for the President, who can send us to fly anyplace around the globe to fight for democracy and for this Nation.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The fact that I really get my heart squeezed when I see a Puerto Rican mother who cannot receive equal health benefits because she is not living in one of the 50 States, although she is an American citizen, it also breaks my heart when I see that this lady could have probably had her son killed in action in any of the battlefields, defending this Nation, but she is not entitled to the same rights as other mothers who also gave their children for this Nation in one of the 50 States.
I also have my heart squeezed when I see that our children cannot receive the same education as other U.S. citizens who live in the 50 States are entitled to receive.
I also get my heart squeezed when I see that Puerto Ricans cannot have the same benefits as any other U.S. citizen who lives in the 50 States.
And I really regret to see Puerto Ricans leaving our island to go up to the mainland just to receive those benefits. Almost 3 million Puerto Ricans live on the mainland, and the reason they have left is because they are denied the same rights that other U.S. citizens have if they live in the 50 States.
So our position is very clear of what we want for Puerto Rico. We want equality. It is a civil rights issue.
Mr. YOUNG. I will remind everybody in the audience, I know you are having a good time, you are doing what you want to do, and I have been very lenient, but I am going to call this meeting over at 3 o'clock. And that means that many of your fellow men cannot testify before this Committee, because every time you do what you have just done, you take the time away from the members of the Committee that would like to ask questions to solve a problem and from the witnesses, very frankly, that want to testify. Is that understood?
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Mr. KENNEDY. I would like to find out, under the definition of ''New Commonwealth,'' exactly how the issue of sovereignty would play out. Would the United States retain national sovereignty, or would Puerto Rico have its own separate sovereignty?
Mr. VILA. The concept of sovereignty has changed a lot during the last 200 years. At one time the sovereign was the key, and for many years it was even under the concept of sovereignty that many acts of tyranny were done around the world.
Today, who is sovereign is the people. And the first thing that this Committee has to recognize is that if we enter into this relationship we call the New Commonwealth, it is a decision of the people of Puerto Rico; it is a sovereign decision of the people of Puerto Rico.
Once we enter into this arrangement, the definition clearly states that Puerto Rico will be sovereign over all matters contained in our Constitution. So to me it is clear. It is a two-step: First, that the decision, whether we stay in this relationship, whether we change it, it is a decision that belongs to the people of Puerto Rico. That is sovereignty.
Mr. KENNEDY. So where would the United States retain any sovereignty if the people were to remain United States citizens? Over those citizens? How would that work?
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. VILA. The United States will have the powers that the people of Puerto Rico have delegated to the United States within this arrangement. That is nothing new for the United States, neither for the entire world.
The fact that you can make a compact with what was in the past called a territory is not only done by the United States, it is around the world.
When the United States came to Puerto Rico in 1898, we had a special arrangement with Spain. We were Spaniard citizens. We had autonomy. The special charter could only be amended if the people of Puerto Rico will accept itin a sense, basically the same concept we want right now to clarify.
Some people, I have heard, are telling the world that the United States is less of a nation than Spain back in 1898. And, to me, that is unbelievable.
Mr. KENNEDY. Well, this is a good debate, because this debate has been going on in our own United States history as to what the role of the Constitution of the United States is. And from what I hear you saying, you are saying you will be subject to your own Puerto Rican Constitution and the United States Constitution will not apply to the people of Puerto Rico.
Mr. VILA. No, we have not said that. I have not said that.
Mr. KENNEDY. So you are saying that if the Constitution of the United States says, the 14th Amendment, we want equal protection for all, and we have had instances in our own country's history where different locales have rejectedthey have said we want States rights or, as you well know, there is an argument that we fought over, and Senator Rodriguez was speaking about it, civil rights, and the notion that the United States Constitution, which guarantees that people are treated equally no matter where they live in the United States, that is fundamental to United States citizenship.
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If you want to be a citizen, you have to know that with that you have to live in a country that respects equal opportunity for all. And if the people of Puerto Rico are not treated the same
I know the idea here is that if a person of United States citizenship was not being treated under our Constitution with respect and dignity for their rights, I would want to make sure that the United States Constitution was enforced to make sure that their rights were protected.
Now, how would that be done if the United States does not have any sovereignty, if you will, when it comes to
[Wild applause as someone enters.]
I would like to now ask Mr. Martin-Garcia
Mr. VILA. So that was not a question? I thought it was a question.
Mr. KENNEDY. Please, your answer.
Mr. VILA. I did not know if you were making another argument for statehood.
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Mr. KENNEDY. What is your answer?
Mr. VILA. The definition clearly states that a United States citizen, persons born in Puerto Rico, will be guaranteed and secure as provided by the 5th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and equal to that of citizens born in the several States.
With regard to sovereignty, as I said, it says that Puerto Rico will be sovereign over matters covered by the Constitution of Puerto Rico, which is exactly what the Supreme Court of the United States has said many times. So I do not see what is your concern.
Mr. KENNEDY. Well, that was the
Mr. VILA. I can understand that you might be in favor of statehood, but that is not no reason
Mr. YOUNG. The gentleman's time has expired, and again I want to remind, every time this occurs, it is just that much less time.
The gentleman from Guam.
Mr. UNDERWOOD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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And I congratulate all three of you for excellent statements.
I could not help but notice that as we got progressively over to the right, we got more and more Spanish, and only Fernando was able to inspire applause from people who were wearing both blue shirts and red shirts. So maybe you are on the crest of a tide there.
Mr. MARTIN-GARCIA. A sign of things to come.
Mr. UNDERWOOD. It strikes me that the last time we were here and we were discussing the issue, the question always seemed to me that here everything becomes an indicator of your political status choice. Everything, from the selection of a color of a necktie to everything else, apparently seems to be connected in some way or another of a political status option. And in that discussion, the last time we were here, I was concerned that it did not look like people wanted to move toward a common process. And if we do not have a common process, this kind of discussion will inevitably continue forever.
I think we are moving beyond that, and I think, through the leadership of the Committee, we have moved beyond that and we are now at a point where we are trying to figure out what is an appropriate definition.
Now, all of us are involved in politics, and I think it is clear that a legal definition is different from a philosophy; bedrock principle is different from a campaign commitment or from a political party program. And in the process of making these definitions, it seems to me that sometimes, obviously, the statehood definition is a little bit more forthright, although I think, obviously, it is written in a way that makes it stand as the most favored option.
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But coming back to that issue, it seems that everyone is trying to now deal with the definitional issue as a way to not merely define what option is being advertised but as a way to campaign for it and at the same time articulate a program of action.
I am wondering what your comments individually might be to that point, that is there a way that we can arrive at a legal definition which is shorn of aspirations? because the question that is before the people is, what do you aspire to? and to try to give as much as possible a legal definition to that.
And maybe we can start with you, Charlie.
Mr. RODRIQUEZ. Congressman, the fact that our definition, as you say, may be looked as a most favored option, it is because it is the most favored option if you are a U.S. citizen and you want U.S. citizenship. If you want that, you want to have equal rights. If you want that, you want to have the same benefits.
Now, you cannot come here and say, or anyone could come here and say, listen, we want to have a relationship with the United States whereas we retain the U.S. citizenship. Oh, but we are going to determine what are those things that the Federal Government that represents that national U.S. citizenship can impose in Puerto Rico. Where is the sovereignty on Puerto Rico?
What we want to do, basically, is give us a chance to vote. If those Puerto Ricans who really believe in their U.S. citizenship, the only way they can really guarantee that is by voting for statehood. If that looks the most favored, let it be. Let it be, because there is no right to tell a U.S. citizen that he cannot aspire to be equal as any other U.S. citizen right now on the mainland.
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Every plebiscite has been in Puerto Rico, the last one back in 1993.
The problem we have with this bill as written right now is the Commonwealth, as we see it and believe in it, is not on the ballot. The reason we presented this definition is not only because we believe in that definition. It is also because it was approved by the full House back in 1990 by this Committee, and then it will make it easier for you guys to work with us if there is a commitment to put in a definition in which we can participate.
So what we are making is a claim of fairness. Believe me, the people of Puerto Rico still believe in commonwealth. They just want the opportunity to express themselves again.
Mr. MARTIN-GARCIA. Well, Mr. Underwood, undoubtedly the alternatives are different not only in terms of content but also their nature. For example, to use the most glaring example, independence is viewed internationally and universally as a right. Nobody would dispute that, if that were the wish of the people of Puerto Rico, the United States would be obligated to grant independence.
In the case of statehood, for example, independently of its merits, it is obviously viewed that statehood is a political decision that the Congress will have to make if it gets a petition; and that in entertaining that petition it can use whatever criteria is politically feasible for the Congress. It may want statehood or may not want statehood for good reasons or bad ones. It is not a right. It is a petition to be made.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC For example, in that sense, it is important that the definitions of the alternatives somehow make clear that they represent decisions of a different nature. For example, I think it would be really dangerous to imply by inaction or silence that somehow statehood is a right and that if people in Puerto Rico vote for it, 50 plus 1, it is there for the having.
On the other hand, for example, in the case of independence, although from a strictly legal point of view it is a very straightforward definition, it means the wholesale transfer of any sovereignty the U.S. has over Puerto Rico it is passed over to the people of Puerto Rico. It is a very simple proposition.
Why is it more complex in our proposal? Because independence requires a disengagement process, and that disengagement process has to be fleshed out in some way so it doesn't appear to people as if Puerto Rico is sort of jumping off the eighth floor without a parachute.
So if the ballot is going to be meaningful and the offer is going to be made in good faith, it has to have something in addition to the purely legal question so that it remains or becomes a politically feasible and reasonable alternative that somehow shows good faith.
In the case of the Popularist definition, that involves all sorts of constitutional and political complexities. The issue of sovereignty may seem a purely academic one, but I think it is absolutely the most fundamental question that this bill is facing; and at some point the Popularists are going to have to make a tough decision, which I fear they haven't made yet, of what their priorities are.
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If their priority is sovereignty for Puerto Rico, they are going to have to be willing to enter into a relationship of free association which, after all, the bill does offer. For them, if the question of citizenship is the priority one, well, then, perhaps they will have to conform themselves to continue to being a territory another 100 years.
Mr. YOUNG. My time has expired.
The Resident Commissioner, Mr. Romero-Barceló.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I think that line that Mr. Martin was developing and talking about, the citizenship of the people of Puerto Rico, Mr. Acevedo, what is more important for you and the party you representcitizenship or sovereignty?
Mr. VILA. For the party that I represent, we believe in a relationship that recognizes the dignity of the people of Puerto Rico and a relationship where we can have our U.S. citizenship and, at the same time, our identity.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. If Congress were to tell you, you cannot have both things, you can only have one
Mr. VILA. I would say that is a very narrow-minded view; and there will be an assumption, maybe, just to put into this bill all the elements to tilt the process in favor of statehood.
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Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Your party got a letter signed by Chairman Young. It was signed by Chairman Gallegly of the subcommittee. It was also signed by Mr. Gilman, the Chairman then of the Committee on International Affairs, and by Dan Burton, the Chairman of the Subcommittee of the Western Hemisphere, which indicated in that letter that you couldn't have your sovereignty with your citizenship.
If this Committee were to decide in the markup that you could not have your citizenship with your sovereignty, now what would you say? Would you just not have anything, or would you make a choice? We are asking, if you were told you could not have both things, what would you do?
If you don't want to answer, that is all right. I cannot force you to answer. But I think the people of Puerto Rico deserve an answer. They should know what it is. And the people of the Congress, the people in Congress and in the United States also should have an answer, because they also have to make a decision.
Mr. VILA. In the Corletto v. Persona case from the United States back in 1974, the U.S. Supreme Court said Puerto Rico is to be deemed sovereign over matters not ruled by the United States Constitution.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. That is case law. That is what the court says. I am asking, what do you say? What do you say if you were given a choice and told you could not have your cake and eat it, too?
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. VILA. No, I am telling you that a special relationship of autonomy based on the will of the people to enter into this relationship with U.S. citizenship was part of the initial concept when the U.S. citizenship was granted to the people of Puerto Rico. It is possible to have it, and we want it.
Back in 1912, when President Taft
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. If you don't want to answer, that is OK.
Let me ask you another question. Here you say, in the new commonwealth, you are saying that Puerto Rico would be entitled to receive benefits under Federal social programs equally with residents of several States, contingent on equitable contributions from Puerto Rico as provided by law.
I want to ask you, honestly, sincerely, how do you think that the people in the State of Alaska, the people in the State of California, where Congressman George Miller is from, the people in the State of Rhode Island, where Congressman Patrick Kennedy is from, the people in Florida, the people in New York, the people in Pennsylvania, in Kansas, would feel about having to pay Federal income taxes so that Puerto Rico could have SSI, so it could have earned income tax credit, so it can have Medicaid and have full participation in Fed programs? But then you say, don't put your hands in our pockets; just give us the money.
Doesn't that demean us as a people? Doesn't that put us in a reflection with our hands out? All we want from U.S. citizenship is the money? We don't want anything else? Is that what you want to say?
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Mr. VILA. Mr. Commissioner, you read the definition, yes, and it says contingent on equitable contributions from Puerto Rico. This is a special deal that went through the Finance Committee back in 1990, and it came out of the Finance Committee in the Senate back in 1990 with a way of how to give this to the people of Puerto Rico and equitable contributions from the government of Puerto Rico to the U.S. Treasury.
The last time I heard someone here in Puerto Rico asking the people of Puerto Rico for a change of status based on how much money we will get from the Federal Government was back in 1993 when the Pro-State Party was telling the people of Puerto Rico how much money we will get from the U.S. Government.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. So was the Popular Party.
Mr. VILA. If you want, we can show
Mr. YOUNG. Gentlemen, gentlemen, the time has expired.
I am going to make a suggestion, because we have now had these three people
All right, in all due respect, I can suggest to everybody in this audience and all sides of the aisle, you don't really make much of an impression on the deliberations on this problem. I understand what you are doing, but keep in mind we are here trying to hear from each side of the aisle and the middle and to try to make the right decision. Because we are going to make decisions. It is that simple.
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I am going to suggest to each one of the gentlemen, I do admire your testimony. I am very, very interested in what has been said. But I want everybody to understand it is the Congress, the Congresswhether it is me or someone elsewho will make the decisions, along with the Puerto Rican people. But we are going forward with this process.
Gentlemen, I thank you. You are excused.
Mr. MILLER. Mr. Chairman, if we could submit a couple of questions to you in writing. I have some concerns about the time line in the legislation, about how we might condense those. I would like to submit those to you for response.
Mr. YOUNG. For the gentleman, every witness that appears before us today, if there is a followup question, we expect a response from them.
You are excused. Thank you.
As I said in the beginning of the hearing, the first three witnesses were extended a great courtesy and extension of time, including the audience. These gentleman and ladies will be, in fact, limited to 5 minutes.
I am going to ask the Resident Commissioner now, Mr. Romero-Barceló, to chair the second panel; and I will have one of the other members chair the third panel and the fourth panel. This is a bipartisan effort to try to get some input from each one of them. I will be in and out of the meetings.
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Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. [Presiding.] Thank you. I would appreciate your cooperation so that we can listen to the witnesses. We would like to conclude with everybody on the list having time to testify.
We will now call the second panel. We will have the former Governor, Rafael Hernandez Colon; Eduardo Bhatia; the Mayor of Caguas, William Miranda-Marín; Carlos Vizcarrondo Irizarry; Margarita Benitez; and Juan Antonio Agostini.
The first witness will be the former Governor, Rafael Hernandez Colon.
STATEMENT OF RAFAEL HERNANDEZ COLON, FORMER GOVERNOR OF PUERTO RICO, PONCE, PUERTO RICO
Mr. COLON. Honorable Chairman, members, you come100 years after the military occupation of Puerto Ricoin order to offer us full self-government. In order to achieve this objective, we do not start from zero. In 1952, we created our Constitution wherein it was stated and Congress approved as a compact that:
The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is hereby constituted. Its political power emanates from the people and shall be exercised in accordance with their will, within the terms of the compact agreed upon between the people of Puerto Rico and the United States of America.
We consider as determining factors in our life our citizenship of the United States of America and our aspiration continually to enrich our democratic heritage in the individual and collective enjoyments of its rights and privileges.
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These are the words of compact between the people of Puerto Rico and the Congress, a compact the Congress proposed to rid the United States of the shame of colonialism before the international community, recognizing that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.
The commonwealth option framed by this bill would violate this compact by placing Puerto Rico under the absolute powers of Congress as it was before 1952. The definition presented to the Committee by the Popular Party would straighten the course of history.
We can hardly believe that this bill sustains the proposition that Congress can strip away American citizenship from the Puerto Rican people. We can hardly believe that it ignores all judicial precedent upholding the compact between the U.S. and Puerto Rico. We can scarcely believe that it sides with the charges of colonialism in Puerto Rico annually leveled at the U.N. against the United States by Fidel Castro.
When, on July 4th, 1776, the 13 colonies proclaimed their independence from the British king, the men assembled in Philadelphia, stated unto the world that they held these truths to be self-evident:
That all men are created equal.
That they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, amongst which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We Puerto Ricans subscribe to these beliefs. We also believe that we have been created equal, no less and no more than you who visit us. And we believe that we are also endowed by our creator with the same inalienable rights to life and to exercise our liberty in whatever way we deem appropriate in order to pursue our happiness.
Deciding the political institutions under which a people will live is the supreme act of liberty. In this choice rests our opportunities to mold a future for our integral development, economic, social, culture, political and spiritual.
But the bill's preconceptions as to commonwealth leave little room for democracy. It is framed in concrete from prejudiced legal opinions presented as unbreakable limits to policy.
With regards to our political freedom, the opinions are equivalent to the arguments invoked by Justice Taney to deny Dred Scott's personal freedom the protection of the Federal judicial power.
The time for colonial paternalism is long past. If the Puerto Rican people wish to freely join the Union, so be it. But do not impose this choice upon us by stonewalling your judgment with one-sided legal memoranda against a new commonwealth.
The only real possibilities of achieving full self-government lie in statehood or in full autonomy as a new commonwealth.
The choice between sending Senators and Congressmen to Washington or broadening our autonomy to govern ourselves through our elected representatives here in San Juan is for us to make. You, of course, have the right to say no. If you do not want us as a state, it is a political, not a legal decision. The same with the broader autonomy we seek.
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Gentleman, do not patronize us with a process that stifles our liberty and your creativity.
Including all the desired options is up to your political will. Give all the people a chance to participate in this plebescite, and let's get on with it.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Colon follows:]
INSERT OFFSET FOLIOS 24 TO 78 HERE
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Senator Bhatia?
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE EDUARDO BHATIA, DESIGNEE FOR THE MINORITY LEADER OF THE SENATE-POPULAR DEMOCRATIC PARTY, SENATE OF PUERTO RICO
Mr. BHATIA. Good morning. Before I start my remarks, I would like to make two brief comments.
First, the Mayor of San Juan, who could not be here today with us, asked me personally to come over to warmly welcome you to Puerto Rico and especially to the city of San Juan. So welcome on behalf of the Mayor of San Juan.
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Second, I would have preferred to have Mr. Young hear the Governor's statement and Mr. Young here today. We are dealing with Mr. Young's bill. I would have much rather preferred Mr. Young to be here.
Let me start my remarks by stating in clear terms that my only concern in this process is the well-being of the people of Puerto Rico. I care more about Don Juan Alejandro and Dona Lucia Chevres, who live in Barrio Guadiana in Naranjito; about Virginia Santos and her four children from Cidra; about Mrs. Paulita Colon from Bayamon; and about so many others like them than about attempting to conform the collective lives of Puerto Ricans to the selfish thoughts and insecurities of an ideological nature.
Theirs is a life of constant improvement and success under commonwealth status. I have little respect for empty legalisms and terms which mean nothing to real people who must struggle daily to make ends meet.
At this juncture, it is fundamental to ask the most basic question which, for some unknown reason, this Committee has somehow eluded over the last 2 years. That is, under which political status, under which political relationship with the United States is Puerto Rico better positioned to compete and succeed in the emerging world of the 21st century?
The flexibility and dynamism of commonwealth status has given Puerto Rico the tools to achieve dramatic economic and social progress. Our association with the United States has given us the ability and access to the largest market in the world. Our fiscal autonomy has allowed us to attract industry to the island through low, effective tax rates.
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The results have been truly staggering. Puerto Rico has set an example of how a small, poor, agrarian and densely populated island with limited exploitable natural resources can emerge as a bustling and industrious society. Once considered a stricken land, the poorest of the poor countries in the hemisphere, Puerto Rico today enjoys the highest standard of living in Latin America.
Our exports have boomed from $235 million in 1950 to $22.9 billion in 1996. In terms of imports, Puerto Rico purchases over $12 billion annually from the United States, ranking among the top 10 world customers. Perhaps most impressive of all, in a region plagued by political instability, all of these changes have occurred in Puerto Rico without social unrest and under a strong democratic regime.
The productive economic vitality enjoyed by Puerto Rico under commonwealth is impossible under statehood. Statehood requires the imposition of Federal income taxes, individual and corporate, which would destroy Puerto Rico's continued economic prosperity.
Manufacturing presently accounts for 44.5 percent of Puerto Rico's GNP, and it is critically contingent upon the fiscal autonomy that Puerto Rico would lose under statehood. Close to 300,000 direct and indirect jobs are attributable to Puerto Rico's fiscal autonomy. This is one-third of Puerto Rico's total labor force.
Every single study conducted on this issue has established that the elimination of Puerto Rico's fiscal autonomy would entail massive capital flight and job loss.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Statehood would destroy the most productive sectors of our economy, precipitating us into an economic catastrophe of unimaginable proportions, shattering the social solidarity and threatening the stability of our prosperous society. This spiraling decline would destroy our self-sufficiency, demanding ever increasing Federal outlays and creating a state of true and inescapable dependency.
Thus, to put the economic consequences of statehood into perspective, if Puerto Rico chose to lower tax rates to U.S. level as it would under statehood, the government would have to lay off about 90,000 public employees, or two out of five government employees. The question would immediately emerge, how many public schoolteachers would have to be laid off to pay for statehood? How many police officers?
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, we in Puerto Rico have come a long way to liberate our people from the chains of poverty and misery. We are now successfully competing with the great economic powers, with skilled workers and attractive incentives that generate jobs. Let us join efforts and energies in building a better Puerto Rico, a prosperous society and a land of true freedom, where our children will be anxious to seize the opportunities that await for them. Let us put people's needs first.
Mr. BHATIA. Let us use this opportunity not to destroy the estado libre asociado, but to strengthen it; not to divide our people, but to unite them; not to stop progress, but to accelerate it.
The Estado Libre Asociado is eager and ready to face the challenges of the 21st century. We are on the move. Don't derail us with this bill.
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[The prepared statement of Mr. Bhatia follows:]
INSERT OFFSET FOLIOS 79 TO 82 HERE
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. The Chairman asked that you try to limit yourself to 5 minutes. I have allowed both the proponents to try to limit themselves. The lights: The yellow means it is approaching the 5 minutes.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE CARLOS VIZCARRONDO IRIZARRY, POPULAR DEMOCRATIC PARTY, PUERTO RICO HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
Mr. IRIZARRY. Bueno. . . Bueno. . . Buenas tardes, señor Presidente, distinguidos miembros del Comité. . . [English voice] Que tenga unas buenas tardes el señor Presidente y distinguidos miembros de este Comité. Habré de dirigirme en el idioma vernáculo de mi nación Puertorriqueña que es el Español. [Applause] Comparezco ante ustedes en mi carácter de representante electo del pueblo de Puerto Rico bajo la insignia del Partido Popular Democrático y como Puertorriqueño orgulloso de su herencia y de su cultura, de su. . . De su personalidad del pueblo Caribeño y Latinoamericano que mira a su socio en esta comunidad de valores que representa la asociación entre Puerto Rico y los Estados Unidos al mismo nivel, aspirando a ensanchar y enriquecer esta relación. La base de cualquier relación es respeto mutuo.
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Comparezco aquí a reivindicar el derecho de mi nación Puertorriqueña a ser respetada como supremo árbitro de su destino final. El proyecto que estamos considerando en el día de hoy se aleja de lo que ha sido la realidad de la relación, de afecto y respeto, que ha existido durante los pasados noventa y nueve años entre Puerto Rico y los Estados Unidos. El insulto y la degradación no puede ser base para un diálogo de pueblo a pueblo. Para asegurar la defensa de sus mutuos intereses por lo cual concordaban plenamente, con la posición expresada por el representante de la administración Clinton ante este. El pasado 19 de marzo, ha señalado que el proyecto contiene interpretaciones y representaciones del pasado constitucional que en nada ayudan al desarrollo de la presente condición política de Estado Libre Asociado hacia una mayor autonomía u otra forma de relación entre nuestros pueblos. Puerto Rico está orgulloso del paso afirmativo que dio en la afirmación del pleno gobierno propio. Entre 1950 y 52 una relación de asociación digna, con los Estados Unidos, mediante el Estado Libre Asociado. Relación que su gobierno, el gobierno de Estados Unidos, presentó al mundo como una relación que terminaba, no que reafirmaba, como señala este proyecto, la condición colonial de Puerto Rico. Nuestro país necesita y merece la verdad. La de ustedes y la nuestra. Si ustedes entienden que Puerto Rico es una colonia, un me- un mero territorio de los Estados Unidos, sepan señores Congresistas que este pueblo no aceptó ser colonia en 1952 ni lo acepta ahora. Este pueblo construyó una relación digna, libre de mancha colonial, al consentir la creación del Estado Libre Asociado. Si las premisas es para ustedes han cambiado, para nosotros no.
Como bien señaló don Luis Muñoz Marín, ante un intento similar a este en el 1962, si Puerto Rico es una colonia de los Estados Unidos, debe dejar de serlo inmediatamente por el buen nombre de los Estados Unidos y el honor y la dignidad del pueblo de Puerto Rico. [Applause] Para aclarar cualquier duda que pueda existir, por fundada o infundada que sea esta, el Partido Popular Democrático ha presentado la definición de Nuevo Estado Libre Asociado ante esta comisión, enraizada en los principios que aspiramos concretizar desde 1952. Autonomía con soberanía, consagrada en una asociación que garantice a la comunidad de intereses entre Estados Unidos y Puerto Rico en las áreas de la moneda, la defensa, la ciudadanía y el mercado. Esa definición, producto del diálogo y del consenso, del autonomismo Puertorriqueño, recoge los puntos mínimos aceptables para nuestra colectividad, basado en documentos adoptados por nuestro partido como la Declaración de la Juventud del Partido Popular Democrático del 15 de marzo de 1997 y la resolución del Consejo del General del Partido Popular Democrático del 17 de noviembre de 1990. Pero no solo es el Estado Libre Asociado que merece que se le diga la verdad.
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Cientos de miles de buenos Puertorriqueños que han creído de buena fe en la eminencia de una estadidad que representa una lluvia de millones de dólares en fondos Federales con garantías plenas de nuestra nacionalidad, cultura e idioma, también merecen que se diga la verdad. Queremos saber si eso es posible.
¿Cuál es el costo que ustedes están dispuestos a pagar para admitir a la unión como estado? A una comunidad de 3.5 millones de ciudadanos norteamericanos cuyo idioma es el Español y que de acuerdo al Censo de los Estados Unidos del 1990, el ochenta y tres por ciento de sus habitantes ni habla, ni entiende, ni escribe el idioma Inglés. Donde más del sesenta por ciento de las familias vivirían en la dádiva Federal.
¿Están ustedes dispuestos a retirar de nuestro país las bases militares que actualmente existen en Puerto Rico como exige la definición de independencia?
Si este proyecto se aprueba tal y como está, cientos de miles de Puertorriqueños que atesoran su ciudadanía americana tendrían que votar por un espejismo, por una fórmula que no es posible, como es la estadidad o cortar totalmente los lazos de asociación entre Puerto Rico y los Estados Unidos, como sería la independencia.
Señores Congresistas, llegó la hora de hablar con la verdad. Ay, ¿qué ustedes quieren? [Applause] Nos llegó la hora a ustedes y a nosotros. La hora de la mutua determinación. Puerto Rico y los autonomistas Puertorriqueños estamos preparados. Muchas gracias. [Applause].
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Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. That is precisely what the Committee and the Congress intend to do, to tell the truth, but apparently you don't want to listen.
STATEMENT OF PROFESSOR MARGARITA BENITEZ, AFELA, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
Ms. BENITEZ. Represento a AFELA, una agrupación independiente de mujeres de filiación autonomista. Hemos analizado este proyecto como historiadoras, abogadas, científicas sociales, educadoras y servidoras públicas que somos. Documentamos sus imprecisiones, omisiones y exclusiones que se extienden desde la sección inicial de hallazgos hasta la sección final que dispone de fondos que por ley corresponden al Gobierno de Puerto Rico.
El trabajo de la AFELA está a la disposición de ustedes y del pueblo de Puerto Rico. Mintervención es el primer resquicio que se abre en estas vistas para representantes de la sociedad civil, si bien se abre bajo condiciones francamente onerosas. Las mujeres de la AFELA venimos a decir que como mujeres y puertorriqueñas conocemos de sobra la exclusión. Por eso repudiamos que este proyecto excluya a sectores vitales de nuestra sociedad y distorsione la trayectoria histórica, jurídica, cultural y lingüística de la nación puertorriqueña. Este proyecto pretende excluir la fórmula de status preferida por los puertorriqueños por más de cuatro décadas. La omitió totalmente en su versión original y sigue estando ausente de su versión actual. No hay un solo creyente en el Estado Libre Asociado, no hay un solo votante de los que hemos ganado todos los plebiscitos celebrados aquí desde 1952 que reconozca al ELA en los términos del Proyecto Young.
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El Estado Libre Asociado es una fórmula descolonizadora, así reconocida desde el momento de su formulación por los máximos representantes de los poderes estadounidenses. Es la única fórmula descolonizadora alcanzada con éxito en la historia de Puerto Rico. Es además, como revolución pacífica, la más dramática de todas las luchas llevadas a cabo por nuestro pueblo. Ha hecho posible la democratización política, el desarrollo económico y la afirmación cultural de los puertorriqueños, ingredientes esenciales de todo proceso auténtico de descolonización. Porque la descolonización es un proceso, no una condición. Quien niegue el proceso descolonizador puesto en marcha por el Estado Libre Asociado en Puerto Rico desconoce o falsea nuestra historia y nuestra realidad.
La determinación de los puertorriqueños [Applause] . . . expresada reiteradamente en las urnas, ha sido continuar la trayectoria innovadora iniciada en los años cincuenta. Seguir haciendo historia y dando ejemplo al mundo de las formas posibles de colaboración y convivencia entre una nación grande y una nación pequeña. Pero el Proyecto Young pasa por alto esta historia que honra no sólo a Puerto Rico, sino a Estados Unidos. Por eso es que su supuesta gestión descolonizadora es en verdad un acto colonial y retrógrado: porque no reconoce la libre determinación de los puertorriqueños manifiesta en sus tres plebiscitos ni tampoco los logros alcanzados por nuestros dos países desde 1952.
Excluido también de este proyecto está el reconocimiento del español, nuestra lengua vernácula, como la lengua propia de los puertorriqueños. Pretender que inglés y español se han hablado a la par en Puerto Rico es desconocer o falsear nuestra historia y realidad lingüística. Reclamar . . . [Applause] que el inglés es talismán de todos los poderes, como hace este proyecto, que lo convierte en lengua del gobierno estatal, los tribunales y el sistema educativo bajo la estadidad, sería hacer de la gran mayoría de los puertorriqueños una minoría en su propia tierra. Recuerde esta comisión congresional la resistencia del pueblo de Puerto Rico durante la primera mitad de este siglo ante tal pretensión.
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Con motivo de las vistas congresionales celebradas aquí en marzo de 1990, un nutrido grupo de líderes puertorriqueños publicó una carta abierta titulada, ''Spanish is Not Negotiable,'' donde se afirma que para el pueblo puertorriqueño el idioma español no es negociable, bajo ninguna circunstancia ni fórmula de status. Entre los firmantes de esa declaración está el actual Gobernador de Puerto Rico y la National Committee Woman del Partido Republicano de Puerto Rico. [Applause].
Es necesario . . . reconocer que hace tiempo ya que la nación puertorriqueña rebasó sus fronteras isleñas. Un millón de puertorriqueños emigró a los Estados Unidos entre 1945 y 1965. En veinte años, una tercera parte de nuestra población. Una de las migraciones más grandes en la historia de la humanidad. Este movimiento migratorio entre Puerto Rico y Estados Unidos es constante, circular y multitudinario. Actualmente hay 3.5 millones de Puertorriqueños en la isla de Puerto Rico y 2.7 en los Estados Unidos, identificados como tales por ellos mismos en
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Ms. Benítez, do you have much more to go?
Ms. BENÍTEZ. No.
Todo el mundo sabe, que identificarse como puertorriqueño en Estados Unidos es exponerse a maltrato y prejuicio. Hay que vivir allá para saber lo que es ser minoría en Estados Unidos. AFELA sostiene que no se puede excluir de un plebiscito puertorriqueño a quienes afirman su puertorriqueñidad, no cuando les conviene, sino cuando les cuesta. A quienes ya han vivido la estadidad en carne propia, con todas sus ventajas y con sus desventajas y optan por afirmarse como puertorriqueños. Los acuerdos y logros principales de nuestro pueblo sólo han sido posibles cuando ha habido consenso.
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Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Mrs. Benitez, I'm sorry. Time for the rest. Would you finish up?
Ms. BENITEZ. OK. [Applausenoise] AFELA les invita a que tengan presente que el consenso no se impone, se alcanza. Hay que convencer a los puertorriqueños de la validez y justicia de este plebiscito. Esto aún no ha ocurrido pero puede ocurrir. Por eso exhortamos a esta Comisió a modificar sus actuales actitudes autoritarias, a comprometerse a respetar y cumplir la libre determinación de los puertorriqueños y a propiciar la búsqueda de acuerdos, tanto procesales como de principios, entre los verdaderos protagonistas de esta historia, que somos nosotros, las puertorriqueñas y los puertorriqueños de las dos orillas de una nación llamada Puerto Rico, estrechamente vinculada a ustedes, más con su indisoluble y propia identidad. Muchas gracias. [Applause]
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. We do not have time for you to read your full statement. I expect that you have submitted a full statement for the record, have you not?
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE WILLIAM MIRANDA-MARÍN, THE MAYOR OF CAGUAS, CAGUAS, PUERTO RICO
Mr. MIRANDA-MARÍN. Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and members of this Committee. I submitted my remarks in English. Now I will be reading them in Spanish.
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Soy William Miranda Marín. Comparezco a esta vista con relación al Proyecto H.R. 856 en calidad de Presidente de la Comisión de Estatus del Partido Popular Democrático y como Alcalde de Caguas, la quinta ciudad de mi país. [Applause].
Comparezco además como puertorriqueño que ama y venera a su patria y a su nacionalidad, y que a la vezy sin que exista conflicto alguno entre lo uno y lo otrodefiende y vive profundamente orgulloso de su ciudadanía americana. Como buen puertorriqueño que soy, he dedicado la mayor parte de mi vida al servicio público, alcanzando cargos importantes en el gobierno de mi país y mi ciudad. Como buen ciudadano americano que soy dediqué treinta y cuatro años a las fuerzas armadas de Estados Unidos, ostentando el cargo de suprema responsabilidad en la Guardia Nacional, el de Ayudante General y retirándome con el rango de General de División. Como buen puertorriqueño y buen ciudadano Americano que soy, quisiera poder decirles hoy que confío plenamente en que esta Comisión habrá de subsanar la enorme injusticia que se cometería con este proyecto, de autoría del Presidente de la Comisión. De ese proyecto, que tal y como está redactado, constituye una bofetada en el rostro de todos los puertorriqueños y que merece el repudio de cada uno de los hijos de Borinquen que nos preciamos de tener amor propio y orgullo patrio. Quisiera poder decirles, señor Presidente y miembros de la Comisión, que confío plenamente en ustedes, pero si les dijera esto les estaría mintiendo. Creo que la Comisión probablemente aprobará el proyecto con alguna que otra enmienda cosmética. Creo que los puertorriqueños que tenemos amor propio y orgullo patrio, nos veremos obligados a recurrir a otros foros en el Congreso y la Rama Ejecutiva Federal, quizás aún a los tribunales, en defensa de nuestra dignidad y de nuestra patria. [Applause].
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El Proyecto Young tal y como est redactado, desposa.
A Puerto Rico de su esencia autonómica, en flagrante desafío a la voluntad democrática de los puertorriqueños que creamos el Estado Libre Asociado entre 1950 y 1952 y lo refrendamos en los plebiscitos de 1967 y 1993. Privaría a los puertorriqueños del derecho de votar por la condición política que han favorecido en tres ocasiones. Ofrecería al pueblo todas las opciones de estatus posibles, excepto la opción que favorecemos los puertorriqueños. El Estado Libre Asociado no es ni territorio ni colonia, Señor Presidente y miembros de la Comisión. El Estado Libre Asociado es soberanía, autonomía, con unión permanente y ciudadanía americana. Ciudadanía . . . [Applause] Ciudadanía . . . [Voices in the background] Ciudadanía que nos hemos ganado con mucha sangre, sudor y lágrimas.
Más que irónico, resulta doloroso el hecho de que sea precisamente este año, al cumplirse los cien años de la Carta Autonómica, cuando los extremistas ineólogicos obtener puertorriqueños y su aliado en el Congreso, pretenden arrebatarnos lo que Baldirioty y otros patriotas lograron hacer una nación mucho menos democrática de la que ustedes dicen representar.
¿Por qué se empeñan ustedes, Señor Presidente y miembros de la Comisión, en tratar de destruir al Estado Libre Asociado? ¿Es que no comprenden, que política y económicamente el Estado Libre Asociado es el estatus más beneficioso para Puerto Rico y los Estados Unidos? ¿Es que no conocen cómo Puerto Rico ha logrado un crecimiento económico extraordinario en los últimos cuarenta y cinco años, gracias principalmente a la autonomía fiscal que desaparecería bajo la estadidad?
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Si se privara a Puerto Rico de este instrumento vital de crecimiento y además se le impusiera la carga de la tributación Federal, se estaría condenando al desempleo y a la miseria a centenares de miles de puertorriqueños, obligando a muchos de ellos a emigrar a Estados Unidos en busca de mejores oportunidades económicas. También muchos puertorriqueños que hoy forman parte del sector productivo del país, y que representan una tercera parte de la población, se mancharían ante el peso de una nueva carga contributiva sin que mejorase significativamente la calidad de vida. Como resultado de esto veríamos convertido en realidad el título de un libro escrito por un miembro de esta Comisión, que alegaba que la estadidad sería para los pobres. Lo que ocurriría es que bajo la estadidad la pobreza arroparía a todos los puertorriqueños Sufriríamos un incremento en la dependencia en las ayudas públicas.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Mr. Miranda, do you have much more to go?
Mr. MIRANDA-MARÍN. One minute, 1 minute.
Con la correspondiente. Erosion de la autoestima de los que viven de su trabajo sin necesidad de depender de prebendas.
De darse este escenario tan tétrico, tendríamos que decirle, Señor Presidente y miembros de la Comisión, a aquellos que alegan que Puerto Rico gozaría de más soberanía baso la estadidad, que ellos tienen la razón, pero sólo en una cosa. ¡ Seríamos el estado soberano del mantengo.!
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC El Partido Popular. . . Democrático está presto a participar en una consulta plebiscitaria justa, cuya ley habilitadora esté fundamentada en el consenso amplio. En una consulta en que el Congreso se comprometa de antemano y de buena fe en implantar la alternativa ganadora. En manos de usted está, Señor Presidente y miembros de la Comisión, la opción de brindarnos a todos los puertorriqueños, la oportunidad de participar en un proceso serio y con perspectivas reales de resolver los problemas del estatus. Esto se puede lograr rechazando las premisas fundamentales de esta medida con relación al Estado Libre Asociado y adoptando la definición de este status que hemos sometido. En manos de ustedes, y de otros en el Congreso y de la Bama Esecutiva Federal está esta opción, como también la de privarle de su franquicia electoral, de un plumazo, a más de un millón de puertorriqueños.
Como buen puertorriqueño y buen ciudadano americano que soy, ruego a Dios que nunca se llegue a esa encrucijada. Como buen puertorriqueño y buen ciudadano americano que soy, los exhorto, Señor Presidente y miembros de la Comisión a ser justos y respetuosos con Puerto Rico. Los exhorto a abandonar esta intentona por imponernos la estadidad. ¡ No nos hagan perder nuestra fe en la democracia Americana! Muchas gracias.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Mr. Agostini.
STATEMENT OF JUAN ANTONIO AGOSTINI, PRESIDENT, PAX CHRISTI-PUERTO RICO, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
Mr. AGOSTINI. Buenos días. . . Mi nombre es Juan Antonio Agostini. Vengo en representación del Movimiento Pax Cristi y su sección de Puerto Rico, que es un movimiento Católico por la paz a nivel internacional.
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Distinguidos visitantes, bienvenidos a nuestro país. Que la paz . . . [Applause] basada en la justicia, sea el resultado final de este proceso de diálogo que hoy nos reúne y nos enfrenta. La Iglesia San José data del año 1537. Es la más antigua de Puerto Rico. Hoy, al trabajar por la autodeterminación para nuestro país, mirémosla como un símbolo del impacto que sobre la vida de nuestra gente ha tenido la intervención de Estados Unidos en nuestra tierra. Hasta 1898, esta histórica capilla había sido testigo de cómo se había plasmado durante siglos una nacionalidad distinta, consciente y orgullosa de sí misma, la nacionalidad puertorriqueña. Pero el 12 de mayo de aquel año, esa misma iglesia fue también testigo de cómo once barcos de guerra del Escuadrón del Atlántico Norte de Estados Unidos bombardearon por más de tres horas nuestra ciudad de San Juan. Más de 1,300 cañonazos erráticos, ocasionaron pocas muertes pero causaron daño considerable a bastantes edificaciones. Una de ellas, fue la Iglesia San José, alcanzada y penetrada por balas de mortero, que abrieron un enorme boquete en su fachada. Poco después, el 25 de julio, nos invadieron por Guánica. No fue un plebiscito, ni un referéndum, ni una ley de Congreso, ni un pacto bilateral, ni un malentendido. Bombardeo e invasión fueron el primer impacto de la intervención de Estados Unidos en nuestra tierra. Hoy, al repensar este siglo, queda claro que la razón principal de Estados Unidos para su intervención y permanencia aquí ha sido el militarismo. Hasta cambios que se anunciaron como pasos de desarrollo político, independientemente de cualquier beneficio que trajeran en el momento, se dieron en función de los intereses militares norteamericanos. Dos ejemplos: En 1917, con la ciudadanía Americana, también nos llegó el reclutamiento militar y el envío de nuestros jóvenes a la Primera Guerra Mundial y por supuesto, a las demás guerras. En 1952, se proclama el Estado Libre Asociado como el fin del colonialismo que hoy seguimos discutiendo aquí. Y amparado en eso, Estados Unidos pide a las Naciones Unidos que saquen a Puerto Rico de la lista de territorios coloniales y los eximan a ellos de rendir informes sobre su administración del territorio. Si recordamos que para esos mismos años, Estados Unidos realizaba una gigantesca expansión militar en Puerto Rico, caemos en cuenta de que lo principal no era descolonizar, que no se hizo, sino evitar, que sí se evitó, dar informes a la ONU, que llegaran a manos de la Unión Soviética y de China, sus contrapartes en la Guerra Fría. Pero no es sólo el militarismo. Toda la vida puertorriqueña está impactada con la presencia e influencia del poderío norteamericano, con el Congreso Congreso Congreso, Casa Blanca, Justicia, el Pentágono y sus respectivas ramificaciones reteniendo sin nuestra participación ni consentimiento, la suprema autoridad sobre el comercio, industria, banca, asuntos laborales, transportación, comunicaciones, la forma de relacionarnos con otros países y otros aspectos de nuestra vida de pueblo. Esto no es justo.
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La historia tiene prisa. Es hora de que los Estados Unidos asuman la responsabilidad histórica que contrajeron cuando nos invadieron, nos militarizaron, nos dividieron hasta el tuétano (como vemos hoy aquí) y trastornaron nuestra visión de nosotros mismos. Pero la solución no está en imponernos un plebiscito más sin darle al país las herramientas de soberanía y de consenso para entender mejor sus opciones y ejercer más libremente su derecho.
Cualquier futura consulta de status, debe estar precedida por un proceso de diálogo abierto, entre los poderes oficiales de Estados Unidos y los sectores de opinión en Puerto Rico, incluyendo pero no limitándose a los partidos políticos. Y hay que señalar claramente, desde ya.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. The testimonies that were given here, this panel, are to be translated into English, all of them, and put forth before the Nation, the United States, in all of the 50 States.
It would seem that, to me, the people residing in those United States would ask, why do they really want U.S. citizenship, in Puerto Rico? They underline, in between the lines, it seems it is a rejection to the United States. And yet you also claim you want U.S. citizenship.
How can you explain that to the people that elect the Congressmen and the Senators? How can you explain that, to anyone: How do you expect the U.S. to accept Puerto Rico and give Puerto Rico U.S. citizenship when the underlying statements of those under the so-called New Commonwealth are rejecting the United States in the way they speak?
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The way you have spoken here, in this panel, it comes across like a dislike for the United States, like you want to be separate, a different nation, a different nationality. Why then do you want the citizenship of the United States? Explain it.
Sr. Agostini, ¿yapasaron cinco minutos?
Mr. AGOSTINI. Yo no terminado. Y ha habido tiempo para la gritería. [Applause.] Yo le digo que habré de terminar en breve.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Can you finish it up
Mr. AGOSTINI. [continuing] y hay que señalar claramente desde ya, que en un asunto tan fundamental como determinar nuestro destino de pueblo, sean solamente los que se juegan su vida, su hacienda y sus sueños con este terruño y con ningún otro quienes participen y decidan lo que somos y lo que seremos. Somos todavía una familia dividida e indecisa sobre nuestro destino. Pero si en algo estamos todos los puertorriqueños profundamente de acuerdo, es en que somos un país, somos un pueblo. Y nos une la firme e inderrotable voluntad de sobrevivir y de jamás entregar o diluir nuestra propia identidad. Quiera Dios que este proceso nos sirva para encontrarnos a nosotros mismos y para cultivar una nueva y sana relación de amistad permanente con Estados Unidos, al igual que con otros pueblos. Con la ayuda de Dios, lo lograremos. Muchas gracias.
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Honorable compatriota[Applause] Honorable compatriota [Applause] Don Carlos Romero, quiero pedirle algo en ánimo de que nuestro pueblo que está viendo estas vistasseguramente más de un millón de personas nos está viendo. De ese millón de personas, la inmensa mayoría de ellos no ha entendido lo que usted ha dicho. [Applause] Al congresista Young yo no le puedopedir aquí que hable español pero a usted sí. Yo le pediría a usted que hable español que nuestro pueblo entienda. (Applause)
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Con muchísimo gusto.
Mr. AGOSTINI. Será en beneficio de todos.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Con muchísimo gusto, con mucho gusto. [Applause continues]. Yo quiero. . . Le pregunto. . . Le pregunto al panel que cómo les podemos explicar si lo que han dicho en Español aquí . . . se tradujera para toda la nación, para todos los ciudadanos de los cincuenta estados allá . . . si en la forma de la entrepalabra se siente en las expresiones de este panel, un gran rechazo, un rechazo a la nación de los Estados Unidos, porque quieren una nación separada. [Response from the public] (Por qué entonces, cómo se les puede explicar ante ese rechazo que hay, como que no les gusta lo que es lo Americano, por qué quieren la ciudadanía americana. (Cómo les vamos a poder decir a los ciudadanos de allá, de los estados de la unión [Response from the public] La unión [inaudible] . . . ¿quién. . . Quién me da la palabra? Los que le van a hablar . . . ¿cómo se les va a decir a los ciudadanos que eligen. . . Cómo se les va a decir a los ciudadanos que eligen a los congresistas y a los senadores, que se va a darle seria consideración a una relación con unos que están pidiendo la ciudadanía americana pero al mismo tiempo rechazan ser americanos? Y que quieren igualdad en los beneficios, pero no quieren pagar contribuciones sobre ingresos. Yo no estoy en [inaudible] [Response from the public] ¿Cómo se le explica allá a los que votan por los congresistas de los?
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Mr. AGOSTINI. Señor Comisionado, si nos permite, estamos interesados en contestar.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Vamos a escuchar, vamos a [inaudible] [Response from the public continues].
Mr. VIZCARRONDO. Tiene que [inaudible] . . .
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Vamos a escuchar . . .
Mr. VIZCARRONDO. Sí, primero muchas gracias señor Comisionado para. . . Porque haya considerado y respondido a una petición del compañero Agostini de que se dirigiera en español porque es importante . . . para el futuro del pueblo de Puerto Rico que está mirando estas vistas, que nos entendamos. Yo creo que eso es el propósito. En esa dirección, es bien importante para que podamos entender nos, que los hermanos puertorriqueños de todos los partidos nos permita entendernos. Yo le respondo con el mayor de los respetos, que su preocupación parte de una premisa prejuzgada, o sea, parte de la premisa de que nosotros los puertorriqueños no estamos ostentando una relación de asociación entre Puerto Rico y los Estados Unidos, digna desde 1952 y que no somos ciudadanos norteamericanos. Es que sí lo somos. O sea, no estamos viniendo aquí en esta mañana, a plantear una cosa que es nueva y que usted escucha por primera vez. Desde 1952, hemos vivido eso bajo el Estado Libre Asociado y en 1953, los representantes de la nación Norteamericana fueron a decirle al mundo que esa relación que se había establecido en 1952, era una relación digna. Faltaba el ejercicio de la soberanía que esto solo para decidirse por todo, y que debía ser reconocida internacionalmente, de manera que el hecho de que estemos reafirmando nuestra condición de ser ciudada-ciudadanos puertorriqueños, orgullosos de nuestra cultura, de nuestro idioma vernáculo Español. Eso en medida alguna, implica que nosotro- que nosotros estamos rechazando la ciudadanía Norteamericana que nosotros hemos tenido desde 1917 por un acto unilateral del Gobierno de Estados Unidos, pero que esto el pueblo de Puerto Rico tuvo la oportunidad de rechazar y sin embargo, lo puso como una parte fundamental de su constitución. Finales, cuando la derogó en 1952. [Applause] Se me acabó el. . . Se me acabó el tiempo en esta ronda, pero para el récord déjeme aclarar que cuando fueron a las Naciones Unidas, los Estados Unidos le mintió a las Naciones Unidas y al mundo entero, en confabulación con el Gobierno de Puerto Rico. [Response from the public]. Señor Comisionado. . ., señor Comisionado . . .
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Mr. VIZCARRONDO. Señor Comisionado.
Mr. BHATIA. [English] Mr. Chairman, Mr. Young.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Mr. Young, now, please.
Mr. YOUNG. In this profession, we are to be honorable. That is two things that we have to keep in mind. And I run a much different Committee in Congress than you may run in your legislative body. I made my decision that I would let each member chair a panel. I was here to hear your testimony. Never impinge my motives.
One of the things I think you have to keep in mind that concerns me a great deal is, if the Puerto Ricans are deciding which status they would take, be it an independent Nation or be it Commonwealth, or be it a State, I think it has to be defined what each one can and cannot do, the good and the bad.
Now, I am from what was a native territory, and we became the 49th State. We do pass our economic laws. We do offer tax-free investment. We do not have an income tax. We do this because we are a State and we have that authority.
What I am trying to stress here: Do not convey a message of what one side can or cannot do.
What concerns me the most and the reason I got interested in this 5 years ago is, we see coming down the pike this year, this month in Congress, eliminating yourbecause you have been extended through the will of Congress certain tax ability, no taxes, tax incentives, contracting, that is being taken away from.
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Question, if the Congress has the ability to take that away from you and you don't have the ability under Commonwealth to impose incentives, which you have to go through the Congress to do so, how are you going to benefit the people of Puerto Rico?
The people in the audience may not realize, I am trying to find out answers, listening to this program. I just want to find out how
Mr. BHATIA. If I may, Congressman.
First, Mr. Chairman, you have raised three different points, and I would like to address each one of them.
Mr. YOUNG. Within my timeframe.
Mr. BHATIA. Yes, very briefly.
First, we have been discussing in Puerto Rico something called the Young bill, which you yourself wrote, or someone on your Committee, but you are the author of the bill. And it just strikes us that whenever someone from the Commonwealth side is speaking, in Washington or here, you are not here to preside. And what we are saying is, we are not here to addresswith all due respect to the other members, we would like to have a frank and honest discussion with you. You are the author of the bill.
Mr. YOUNG. And we are having that discussion. And by the way, when you are testifying, we cannot discuss it. It makes no difference who is sitting in the chair. I have made this promise, and I am working with my people, and I am going to continue to do that.
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Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Vamos a tenervamos a demostraruna demostración de como se comporta el pueblo de Puerto Rico. Vamosestos es unas vistas congresionalesquizás hay congresistas que han venido aquí a
Mr. YOUNG. My time is running out. Let him finish with the question.
Mr. BHATIA. My point is, you don't pay income tax in Alaska for a very good reason, because of your natural resource.
Mr. YOUNG. We did not have a natural resource at that time.
Mr. BHATIA. You have natural gas, something we don't have in Puerto Rico.
Mr. YOUNG. But if the Congress is taking away your tax benefits today, and which they are going to do in the Ways and Means Committee, how can you provide the economic base which you have had in the past? You are losing that.
Mr. BHATIA. Again, with all due respect, I don't think you understand the tax structure of Puerto Rico. Congress cannot take away the tax incentives of Puerto Rico. The local tax incentives cannot be taken away, the local tax incentives in Puerto Rico.
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What Congress can do, and did with its support of the administration in Puerto Rico, was take away an incentive called 936, which was not a Puerto Rican incentive, it was a U.S. incentive which deals with the money repatriated back to the U.S.
We in Puerto Rico, as a result of our autonomy, we rule in terms of our taxes in Puerto Rico. We give tax credits to all corporations in Puerto Rico that we wish. It has nothing to do with the U.S. Congress. In fact, I invite you or any Member of Congress who wants to change the law in terms of locallocalauthority over tax matters to go ahead and do it. The next day, we will file a suit in court.
Mr. YOUNG. And what Puerto Rico and Alaska have in common is a lot of lawyers.
Mr. BHATIA. That is right.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Mr. Miller.
Mr. MILLER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I am not sure this forum is turning out to be the best way for us to transmit information back and forth, and so I, too, would like to submit questions in writing.
But I would also say that, again, I have a very strong belief that the three principal parties, if you will, and the people who support those parties have a very strong right to define that relationship which they support with respect to the United States. The question will then be whether or not the Congress will go along with that or not go along with that in terms of approving the plebiscite and then later the responses to that plebiscite. But that is in the natural of the give and take.
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I think it is very important that as we start this process, that the Congress not be like the butcher who has his thumb on the scale, here, to get the results that we want.
I think what it ought to be is that this is a long, historical, political debate within Puerto Rico, and it ought to manifest itself on the ballot if the plebiscite is to be real. And then, there is an old saying, be careful what you wish for, because you may get it. And then the Congress will decide, and the Congress may, in fact, not go along.
I think we all know that this is a situation where we feel more optimistic than ever that the Congress would agree to sanctioning a plebiscite and, in its name, offering that opportunity to Puerto Rico. But it is not a done deal in terms of the final results.
We can argue forever about these definitions, but eventually, we, as members of the Committee, and later the House and the Senate, will make the final determinations because it will be about whether we are able to secure the votes to move the plebiscite forward or not.
But at the outset, I believe the definition that you, the various parties, agree to, you put them in the bill and you see where that takes you.
But that does notthat is not a suggestion that the Congress will not work its will, whether they stay in the bill or not, because I think clearly the Congress will have some concerns that have been expressed here today with some of the provisions in the various definitions. But again, at least the process started out with the people who are, you know, the parties of interest getting to define the basis on which they want to proceed. I think that is the most important thing that can be done here.
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I have some questions I am concerned about. Again, I have spoken to some of you before. I am very concerned about this process being stretched out for such a long period of time that the Congressand I am more worried about the Congress than I am about the people of Puerto Rico, but the Congress loses its commitment. We could go through a series of elections, new reapportionment in the Congress that could change the dynamics, and I am worried, if the period of that is too long, nothing will come of this.
But again, I would like to articulate that in writing and ask for your various responses about that.
I am also concerned about the participation. Mr. Serrano has raised concerns about the participation of people residing in the United States andbut I will put those forth in a written statement.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the time.
Mr. COLON. Congressman, we are fully supportive of your positions, all of them, that you have stated here.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Mr. Kennedy.
Mr. KENNEDY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
My feeling is that what is happening now in the current Commonwealth status is unfair, the status quo is unfair to the people of Puerto Rico, because the President can call them up to fight in our wars and yet they can't choose to havethey cannot choose who they want as their commander in chief. They havewe in the Congress and on this Committee decide whether you are going to have a referendum or not to decide your own future, and not you. And I don't think that is fair. And that is the nature of the territorial clause that Puerto Rico currently is governed under, and that is the reason why this Committee is set up the way it is.
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What seems to be taking place here is the misunderstanding of what happened in the past.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Excuse me. Voy a pedirle que por favor seaquellos tres jóvenes que están allá, que por favor manten-dejen de estar chistando entre ustedes yvamos a escuchar, que todo el mundo también quiere escuchar lo que tiene que decir el Congresista Kennedy y escuchar lo que van a decir los paneles.
Mr. KENNEDY. So the question is, how do we get out from underneath? You might be U.S. citizens in some respects, but you are severely limited in the full definition of what a United States citizen is, and that is what needs to be changed. That is why I believe that you ought to have the full rights and privileges of United States citizenship.
But in the history of this relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States, it has gotten confused, because what happened in 1917 was, you were given full United States citizenship, but in 1922 the Supreme Court defined that as limited only to the fundamental protections. OK, but it not applying to commerce and trade, and that is why you have that kind of unique status. But it was never changed by the Congress, so you were limited according to that Supreme Court decision.
And in 1953, which is what we keep hearing reference to, that was neverwhatever was decided, the Congress never changed the position of Puerto Rico under the territorial clause, and I know that is where the rub is.
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The rub is in 1953, because it was understood by the people of Puerto Rico that the colonialism had ended, that the situation was that it was gone. But it wasn't until 1960 that the definition of ''anticolonialism'' was put forth by the United Nations. And guess what, the estado libre asociado was not defined under the United Nations as ending colonialism. They had three definitions.
I really, honestly wantI really feelI really, really feel for the dilemma that you are in. The debate that is taking place right now, I really feel for it. The United Nations has giventhis is the United Nations, this isn't the United States, this is the United Nationshas defined the end of colonialism in three ways, and those three ways that are defined by the United Nations are contained in this bill.
Now, that is why I am notyou know, Chairman Young didn't make this up; no one made this up. This is what the United Nations said is the way in which you end colonialism. Now, if that is the way United Nations defined it, then you need to take your case to the United Nations to say, wait a second, there is something else called estado libre asociado. But until the United Nations recognizes estado libre asociado, it is not an end to colonialism.
Now, if you could tell me what the difference is, please, please, give me some feedback, because I really want to do what is right for Puerto Rico. This is what the United Nations said is the way to end colonialism.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Los aplausoslo que hacen es eliminar, reducir el tiempo y no nos permite a los Congresistas, escuchar lo que digan los panelistas o darles el tiempo aún suficiente a los panelistas para que puedan también hablar ms extensamente sobre el asunto que se le ha preguntado. Vamos a pedir su cooperación para que se pueda aprovechar eseel tiempo.
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Mr. COLON. Congressman, the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States was submitted to the U.N. in 1953. It was approved by the U.N. at that time under Resolution 748. There was a list of factors that the U.N. applied to the Puerto Rican case at that time.
Basically, the changes since 1960 have not been that many, and from 1960 on, we have had a motion by Cuba, an annual motion by Cuba, to declare the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States a colonial relationship, and to this date Resolution 748 stands.
That is, in spite of the fact that the decolonization Committee has heard the case of Puerto Rico throughout the years, it has never gotten the General Assembly to reverse Resolution 748 recognizing that the relationship we have with the United States is a noncolonial relationship. So that is the law at the present moment.
However, I would like to say in that resolution there is a very important paragraph, which is the last paragraph, which said that the U.N. expected that this relationship could evolve and changes could be made in the future. And the supporters of Commonwealth believe that the compact, although it is valid, needs changing and needs adapting to the current times.
So this is why we propose a new Commonwealth, in order to solve the problems that you see. But we try to solve them within the context of autonomy, which is gaining power for Puerto Rico, empowering Puerto Rico to deal with its problems itself, through its own democratic processes here, while it maintains the link through citizenship with the United States.
Page 96 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In that sense, I would like to say that we do not shrink from our responsibilities as to citizenship. When we speak about Puerto Ricans going to war, we don't speak of statehooders as going to war, we speak about all Puerto Ricans who are American citizens. And so what we are trying to do is work out a relationship that will be adjusted to the current times and which will allow us to maintain our citizenship and at the same time to govern ourselves under a broader autonomy here in Puerto Rico in ways consistent with our culture and our particular nationality. That is it.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Mr. Underwood.
Mr. KENNEDY. I just want to say, for that to be worked out, it has to be a bilateral, liberal relationship, understand. But under the current relationship, it is a unilateral relationship, because the mechanism in the United States Constitution through which we deal with unincorporated territories is the Territorial Clause, and that wasn't changed in 1953 after the United Nations didn't take on the language that you said.
If you go back and look at the Congressional Record, as much as there may have been an understanding that the United States bargained and said, OK, we will have an equal relationship here, no one could misunderstand what was really happening in the Congress at that time, because in the Congress at that time everyone understood Puerto Rico as a territory. And now, I don't agree with that notion, but that is the way it was legally decided at the time.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. We have to go to the next panel member. I will give you time. Mr. Underwood can give you time.
Page 97 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. UNDERWOOD. Let me contextualize my question; and we will give you an opportunity to respond to the general issue, which isI assume the general issue is, does the territorial clause apply to Puerto Rico?
And my question, which, obviously, has implications for mebut, as I understand it, we normally talk about colonies and then we talk about the process of decolonization, and in the United Nations prescription that process of decolonization calls for either full integration, which is statehood, and free association and outright independence.
Now the discussion has always focused, when I hear statements from representatives of the political party that you represent, Governor, that Puerto Rico is in a noncolonial status. We think of it as bipolar opposites. We are either a slave or we are free. We are either a colony or we are in a state of freedom. But it seems like we are in a midpoint here, something that we call noncolonial.
Is it your understandingand just be as clear as you can. Is it your understanding that the territorial clause applies to Puerto Rico? And, as a followup to that, the president of your party in the earlier panel listed out a series of things as part of the definition for the PDP's contribution to the ballot, and he listed them as aspirations. Is it your impression or is it your understanding that the application of the territorial clause is not elastic enough to accommodate the aspirations of the political plan that is implicit in that definition?
Mr. COLON. I think the Committee is allowing itself to get into a legalistic, semantic trap under this whole discussion regarding the territorial clause.
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I believe that the matter of governing Puerto Rico goes beyond the territorial clause, and it relates to the inherent powers of the United States to govern a territory which it acquired through military occupation, through the invasion of Puerto Rico in 1989.
It is a power, which if it were not in that clause, it would attain to the Federal Government anyway; and it has been recognized as an inherent power of government by the Supreme Court of the United States. It is a power that the United States would have to exercise in order to comply with international treaties, such as the treaty of the United Nations, where the United States committed itself to govern Puerto Rico in a way as to bring it to full self-government.
What I am basically saying is that the relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico stems from a power that is much broader than the restrictive meaning of the territorial power and the absolute powers of Congress to deal with territories under that particular clause. And under these broader powers a satisfactory democratic arrangement can be worked out for the benefit of both Puerto Rico and the United States.
Mr. UNDERWOOD. Now, in terms of the specific plan listed as a definition of commonwealth, or as a position, aspirationsactually, the term used was aspirationsthen you are saying that you agree with the assumption that is given here inside the legislation that the territorial clause is not elastic enough to accommodate that plan.
Mr. COLON. I am saying that the Congress has the power to accommodate that plan; and if we want to go to the territorial clause and apply it in a restrictive way, you might come to the conclusion that it is not elastic enough. But what I am saying is get out from under the territorial clause.
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Mr. UNDERWOOD. I understand that point.
One last point. I just wanted to confirm your answers to Mr. Miller's earlier question. You agree with the notion that you are free to describe commonwealth in the ballot and understand that Congress could work its will in terms of that definition.
In other words, in the long haul, in the political processes of Congress, that definition and the aspirations that are part of that definition may not come to pass.
Mr. COLON. Basically, we are saying that we have put forward a definition which meets all of our aspirations. Now we realize that we are engaged in a political process and that at some point the Congress might not agree with us fully on everything that is in that definition. Now what we say is, if that comes about, it will be because of a political decision of the Congress, not because of legal constraints to the Congress, that impede the Congress from coming to this agreement that we want.
Mr. UNDERWOOD. Thank you.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Thank you very much.
Now we have the next panel.
Mr. UNDERWOOD. [Presiding.] I would like to call the next panel up, please.
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The Honorable Manuel Rodriguez-Orellana, the Honorable Damaris Mangual Velez, Professor Edwin Irizarry-Mora, Mr. Emilio A. Soler Mari, Mr. Eduardo Morales-Coll, and Mr. Manuel Fermin Arraiza.
Due to the limitations on time and because we want to make sure that everybody gets their opportunity not only to express themselves but a full opportunity for members of the Committee to address important questions, we will try to adhere to the 5-minute rule as much as possible.
Mr. UNDERWOOD. I will begin with the Honorable Manuel Rodriguez-Orellana.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE MANUEL RODRIGUEZ-ORELLANA, DESIGNEE FOR THE MINORITY LEADER OF THE SENATE-PUERTO RICAN INDEPENDENCE PARTY, SENATE OF PUERTO RICO, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
Mr. RODRIGUEZ-ORELLANA. Señor Presidente y señores miembros de esta Comisión, ustedes tienen una versión al Inglés del texto de mi ponencia eh. . . Para el beneficio de mis compatriotas, lo voy a leer en Español.
Soy Manuel Rodríguez Orellana y comparezco ante ustedes en representación del Senador Rubén Berríos Martínez, quien señaló el mes pasado, unas áreas en que el proyecto que está bajo vuestra consideración debería modificarse para hacerlo más justo y más balanceado.
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Mi objetivo en esta intervención será elaborar la posición del Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño traída por el Senador Berríos en torno a la reducción del plazo de tiempo para la implantación de las diversas opciones que se consideran.
El proyecto como está, dispone que los Puertorriqueños esperemos diez o quince años para implantar la independencia o la estadidad, después de un voto mayoritario. En aras de una supuesta simetría, cuya función es meramente decorativa, se pretende tratar a la independencia y a la estadidad como si fueran iguales, cuando no lo son. Propongo por tanto que los puertorriqueños, no tengamos que esperar más que lo demasiado que ya hemos esperado para la disfrutar de la independencia, para la que de conformidad con el derecho internacional tenemos un derecho inalienable. Tan pronto nuestro pueblo reclame su derecho a la independencia, no debe colocársele obstáculo alguno al libre ejercicio de su libertad nacional y tras la consulta que este proyecto propone para el próximo año, se debe implantar a través de una asamblea constituyente, la proclamación de nuestra soberanía antes de las próximas elecciones generales del año 2000. La transición económica, desde luego, debe ocurrir entonces bajo la independencia. Puerto Rico ya ha padecido noventa y nueve años de colonialismo estadounidense.
Por fin, un organismo oficial del Congreso de Estados Unidos, ustedes en esta Comisión, admitieron hace un año lo que el Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño ha venido diciendo por los últimos cuarenta y cinco, que nuestra condición es colonial y que Estados Unidos no ha cumplido con su obligación de descolonizar ni bajo el derecho internacional ni bajo el derecho doméstico constitucional de los Estados Unidos.
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Pero todavía hay otros, hay otros sobre todo aquí en Puerto Rico, que pretenden justificar nuestro status territorial bajo la Constitución de Estados Unidos alegando consentimiento, ¡ Como si la esclavitud por consentimiento dejara de ser esclavitud! La condición colonial de Puerto Rico no deja de ser coloniaje y la obligación de descolonizar subsiste aún con el consentimiento.
Pero yo quiero apartarme un momento del texto para hacer un comentario aquí. Y es que no veoy no tiene ningún sentido, y desvirtúa por completo el objetivo de esta legislaciónque la misma insista en incluir un Estado Libre Asociado colonial y territorial como el que tenemos, como opción en el propuesto plebiscito, aunque sea por un tiempo limitado, aunque sea con plebiscitos periódicos. La afirmación del coloniaje lo que hace es que mantiene el coloniaje. El problema no puede ser la solución.
Por otro lado, el caso de la estadidad es diferente al de la independencia. La independencia de Puerto Rico es como señalé anteriormente, un derecho inalienable. Pero la estadidad no. Por eso ustedes en el Congreso pueden imponer las condiciones que ustedes estimen pertinentes en el caso de la estadidad, a base de las expectativas que ustedes tengan. Ustedes deben decir cómo debe ser Puerto Rico como estado, en qué idioma o en qué idiomas, cuánto deben aportar, y cómo va a contribuir esto a la paz social de los Estados Unidos. Por lo tanto, aunque parezcan duros o antipáticos para algunos los términos y condiciones de transición o implantación de la estadidad que ustedes impongan, estos deben reflejar claramente sus expectativas.
Page 103 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Hace siete años, el Senador Moynihan explicó clara y diáfanamente las suyas, en el contexto de los proyectos que se presentaban entonces. Dijo, y cito en inglés: ''In the end, the great issues involved here are civic, not economic. Do the people of Puerto Rico wish to become Americans? For that is what statehood ineluctably implies. That is what statehood brings.''
Evidentemente, la aceptación o rechazo de una posible petición de estadidad no tendría ni que esperar ser presentada. Pero para que no se fomenten falsas ilusiones ni se juegue con las aspiraciones de la inmensa mayoría de los puertorriqueños, que todos quieren seguir siendo puertorriqueños, la contestación si algún día se plantea la pregunta, debe ser rápida y debe ser lo menos dolorosa posible.
Por eso, cualquier rechazo congresional, en cualquier etapa, a cualquier propuesta de transición o de implantación de la estadidad, debe considerarse inmediatamente como una denegatoria, porque si después de un siglo todavía ustedes o nosotros tenemos alguna duda de si una nación latinoamericana, caribeña, que habla español y quiere retener su identidad e integridad cultural cabe dentro de la unión americana como estado o no, no debemos seguir perdiendo el tiempo. No debemos seguir alargando la incertidumbre. Vamos a pasar ahora a cosas mejores, a un futuro mejor y no más colonia.
Estoy, desde luego, en la mejor disposición de trabajar con ustedes de inmediato para buscar el lenguaje legislativo apropiado que refleje los objetivos que he mencionado en esta ponencia. Muchas gracias.
Page 104 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. UNDERWOOD. Thank you, Mr. Rodriguez.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Rodriguez-Orellana follows:]
INSERT OFFSET FOLIOS 83 TO 86 HERE
Mr. UNDERWOOD. Madam Damaris.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE DAMARIS MANGUAL VELEZ, DESIGNEE FOR THE HOUSE MINORITY LEADER-PUERTO RICAN INDEPENDENCE PARTY, PUERTO RICO HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
Ms. MANGUAL VELEZ. Buenas tardes señores miembros de esta Comisión. Comparece ante ustedes Damaris/Mangual Vélez, Comisionada Electoral del Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño. En la tarde de hoy discutiré el tema de quiénes deben votar en el plebiscito y los mecanismos electorales que son necesarios para instrumentar la ley que se apruebe. Solo los Puertorriqueños tenemos el derecho a decidir el destino político de nuestro país. Es evidente que solo los nacionales pueden votar para ejercer ese derecho a la autodeterminación.
El pueblo que participe en el plebiscito tiene que ser un pueblo diferente al pueblo que participa en las elecciones cada cuatro años porque es una elección diferente. Es parte de la autodeterminación de un pueblo. Y si participan los que no son de ese pueblo, entonces no es autodeterminación.
Page 105 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Entre los nacionales de Puerto Rico se cuentan los nacidos en Puerto Rico y aquellos cuyos padres hayan nacido en Puerto Rico, aunque residan fuera de Puerto Rico, pero manifiesten su deseo de regresar.
En la ley del plebiscito que se apruebe, la nacionalidad debe ser el requisito esencial para votar. El Congreso puede establecer estos parámetros a tenor con la responsabilidad que le impone la cláusula territorial para reglamentar y disponer del territorio.
En cuanto a los puertorriqueños que residen en el exterior, algunos alegan que desde el punto de vista administrativo, es imposible formalizar dicho voto. Sin embargo, los electores fácilmente pueden llenar una solicitud de participación en las oficinas de correos y devolverlas a la Comisión Estatal de Elecciones, donde sería cualificada con la correspondiente prueba de nacimiento del elector solicitante. Luego, la propia Comisión le enviaría directamente al elector la papeleta de votación.
En el caso de los nacionales residentes en otros países, las embajadas y los consulados de los Estados Unidos servirían para el trámite de rigor.
Es importante que ustedes entiendan que este mecanismo que propongo no es nuevo. La Comisión Estatal de Elecciones de Puerto Rico tiene experiencia en pequeña escala con este tipo de votación que denominamos voto ausente. Además, la celebración de este evento electoral es el mejor momento para implantar el sistema mecanizado de votación y escrutinio en nuestra isla. La Comisión Estatal de Elecciones tiene la capacidad y experiencia necesaria para administrar este proceso.
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Finalmente, este proceso plebiscitario requiere que las fórmulas de status estén en igualdad de condiciones en cuanto al financiamiento para la promoción del voto y la educación del elector. Es una buena oportunidad para ensayar las reformas de campaña, de las cuales ustedes hablan [Another U/I voice] En su país. Debe asignarse una cantidad suficiente de fondos para cada fórmula y una vez sus proponentes se acojan al esquema de financiamiento provisto, no podrán aceptar aportaciones privadas, lo que incluye la prohibición de los comités de acción política.
Estoy a su disposición para trabajar con su equipo de técnicos electorales y cualquier legislación que se tenga a bien aprobar.
Mr. UNDERWOOD. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Mangual Velez follows:]
INSERT OFFSET FOLIOS 87 TO 90 HERE
Mr. UNDERWOOD. And now Professor Edwin Irizarry-Mora.
STATEMENT OF PROFESSOR EDWIN IRIZARRY-MORA, ECONOMIC ADVISOR, PUERTO RICAN INDEPENDENCE PARTY, PUERTO NUEVO, PUERTO RICO
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Mr. EDWIN IRIZARRY-MORA. Buenas tardes. Buenas tardes señor Presidente y miembros de la Comisión de Recursos. Se dirige ante ustedes Edwin Irizarry-Mora, Asesor Económico del Partido Independentista puertorriqueño y Profesor de Economía de la Universidad de Puerto Rico.
Durante los pasados cuarenta y cinco años, desde que se fundó el Estado Libre Asociado, Puerto Rico ha ido acentuando su dependencia económica con respecto a los Estados Unidos. La dependencia se manifiesta en el sostenimiento de una estructura de producción industrial amparada en las leyes contributivas Norteamericanas, sus relaciones de comercio exterior casi exclusivas con los Estados Unidos.
Las consecuencias socioeconómicas de la dependencia son aún mas profundas. Según datos oficiales, sobre el cincuenta por ciento de las familias de Puerto Rico dependen de manera directa de algún tipo de programa de beneficencia subsidiado por el Gobierno Federal. A este hecho contundente, se añade un problema cada vez más crítico de desempleo, que al considerar la baja tasa de participación laboral, se proyecta a niveles reales entre treinta y treinta y cinco por ciento de la fuerza obrera. Frente a esta realidad, se ha desarrollado en Puerto Rico un gigantesco sector de economía subteránea, buena parte del mismo basado en el trasiego de drogas y en el crimen organizado.
Para completar el cuadro anterior, no debemos perder de perspectiva que Puerto Rico tiene un ingreso per capita equivalente a una tercera parte del ingreso de los Estados Unidos y a menos de la mitad del ingreso per capita del estado más pobre de la unión Norteamericana.
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Ciertamente el modelo económico del Estado Libre Asociado amparado en la dependencia da señales de un agotamiento irreversible. La eliminación de la Sección 936 representa sin duda, el punto culminante en la historia del desarrollo dependiente de Puerto Rico. Como resultado de este escenario, invertir en Puerto Rico no representa ventajas económicas lo suficientemente grandes como para impulsar un aumento en la acumulación de capital y por ende, en la producción.
La situación de crisis económica del Estado Libre Asociado es el marco de referencia obligado para proyectar lo que significaría la transición hacia la estadidad. Dicho en términos muy concretos, la estadidad para Puerto Rico representaría la multiplicación de la dependencia.
El Congreso y el Tesoro reconocen, que lo que se embolsa entre el Gobierno Federal a Puerto Rico, bajo las condiciones socioeconómicas de [uninteligible] Aumentarían sustancialmente tan pronto [uninteligible] La estadidad. Evidentemente, el aumento de gastos Federales en Puerto Rico contrastaría irreconciala- irreconciliablemente con el objetivo trazado por el Congreso, de nivelar el presupuesto Federal para los primeros años de la próxima década.
De otra parte, la capacidad de aportación de los sectores que en Puerto Rico podrían contribuir con el pago de impuestos Federales, irónicamente frenaría cualquier posibilidad de iniciar un proceso de crecimiento local en un estado puertorriqueño entre comillas, ya que la ventaja competitiva del estado sería nula con respecto a otras jurisdicciones en el hemisferio. En otras palabras, la estadidad, en vez de promover el crecimiento económico y de contribuir a solucionar los problemas fiscales de los Estados Unidos, provocaría un aumento en el déficit presupuestal y Federal y abriría el camino para perpetuar la condición de dependencia. Por esa razón, sostengo que la estadidad no representa una opción viable para los Estados Unidos en el caso de Puerto Rico.
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De otro lado, los acontecimientos de las pasadas dos décadas demuestran que la independencia ha sido el camino que han tomado los países con economías similares a la de Puerto Rico. Las ventajas de la independencia en nuestro caso, en nuestro caso son obvias. Amplia experiencia en la producción manufacturera, la existencia de una infraestructura muy superior a la de la mayoría de los países vecinos, dominio y conocimiento tecnológico representado por la fuerza obrera y una clase profesional de primer orden y un sistema educativo con características similares a los de países industriales entre otras variables estratégicas.
La independencia permitiría establecer un sistema contributivo de gastos públicos que responda a las realidades de nuestro pueblo. Un sistema monetario amparado, un sistema monetario adaptado a las condiciones de Puerto Rico y tratados comerciales de fomento en el intercambio con todos los países y que nos permitan jugar un papel protagónico en la economía global.
Con relación a este último aspecto, bajo el Estado Libre Asociado o la estadidad, Puerto Rico no puede establecer relaciones comerciales libremente con los países del Caribe y con la comunidad Latinoamericana inmediata, al igual que por supuesto, con los Estados Unidos, Canadá y la Comunidad Europea. La independencia representa la única opción de status que abriroí-, abriría las puertas para un intercambio comercial libre de todo tipo de ataduras.
Más aún, la forma más efectiva de atraer capital externo es a través de tratados contributivos y de acuerdos comerciales que solo son posibles bajo la independencia. El aumento de la producción se logrará además a través del fomento de nuestro capital en diversas áreas de nuestra economía. Estos elementos, como darán una mayor autosuficiencia y se convertirán en efecto, en la vía para romper con la dependencia para el beneficio mutuo de Puerto Rico y de los Estados Unidos.
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Mr. UNDERWOOD. Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Irizarry-Mora follows:]
INSERT OFFSET FOLIOS 91 TO 96 HERE
Mr. UNDERWOOD. Mr. Emilio A. Soler Mari, President, Puerto Rican Democratic Action Foundation.
STATEMENT OF EMILIO A. SOLER MARI, PRESIDENT, PUERTO RICAN DEMOCRATIC ACTION FOUNDATION, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
Mr. MARI. Muchas gracias y muy buenas tardes a los distinguidos miembros de este panel.
Acción Democrática puertorriqueña es una organización de la sociedad civil de Puerto Rico, no partidista, y su fundación en parte ha sido motivada en torno a esta iniciativa del Gobierno Norteamericano, que recogiendo el clamor internacional por la descolonización, intenta resolver dicho problema de las relaciones entre nuestras dos naciones.
Page 111 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Reconocemos, tal como fue anunciado cuando se radicó este proyecto, que este proyecto es uno sujeto a cambios y enmiendas, en el proceso legislativo de la Cámara, y a tales fines hoy comparecemos ante ustedes con los siguientes señalamientos y propuestas de enmienda.
En la expresión de principios, el proyecto debe reconocer a Puerto Rico como algo más que una isla situada en la entrada del mar Caribe, habitada por cuatro millones de. . . Cuatro millones de ciudadanos Norteamericanos, sino como una nación Hispánica debe reconocerse, Caribeña, de cinco siglos de existencia, con su propia historia, cultura e idioma.
Entendemos que por ser este un proceso de descolonización, las alternativas que se ofrecen deben cumplir con los requisitos mínimos de descolonización de acuerdo a derecho internacional. La alternativa de estado libre asociado-commonwealth, que está incluida en ese proyecto, ahora mismo no cumple con ese requisito, por lo cual entendemos debe ser excluida.
La estadidad como alternativa tal vez podría resolver el problema jurídico actual, pero entendemos que no el problema político. Las naciones no se disuelven con una votación y el sistema Federal está constituido para permitir la coexisten-no está constituido para permitir la coexistencia de una nación dentro de otra nación. Estados Unidos es la nación y no admite otras naciones dentro de la misma.
Solicitamos que este proyecto se enmiende, estableciendo una lógica presentación de las alternativas, una indepen-una independiente de la otra en la papeleta de votación. Se debe enmendar el proyecto para que contenga una definición clara de cada una de las alternativas propuestas. En el caso de la libre asociación, proponemos que el proyecto establezca la definición que acompañamos y que ha sido circulada por nuestra organización a todos los miembros del Congreso de Estados Unidos y a la Casa Blanca y que se ha acompañado en el idioma Inglés como Anexo 1 de esta ponencia.
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La Casa Blanca másy más de treinta congresistas ya han reconocido recibir este proyecto y le están dando consideración a el mismo y así nos los han confirmado. En términos breves, dicha definición de libre asociación debe incluir, el reconocimiento que Puerto Rico es soberano y autónomo y entrará en un Tratado de Libre Asociación con el pueblo de Estados Unidos.
Los ciudadanos de los Estados. . . De los Es- de los Estados Unidos nacidos en Puerto Rico continuarán siendo ciudadanos de los Estados Unidos de Norteamérica luego de la fecha en que entre en vigor el acuerdo de libre asociación con el pueblo de Estados Unidos.
El pueblo de Puerto Rico tendrá la capacidad para llevar a cabo sus asuntos internacionales. El pueblo de Puerto Rico tendrá plena autoridad para entrar en convenios y tratados internacionales. El Gobierno de los Estados Unidos apoyará las solicitudes de parte del pueblo de Puerto Rico para su membrecía en organizaciones internacionales.
El gobierno de los Estados Unidos y el gobierno de Puerto Rico podrán establecer y mantener representaciones y/o misiones en la capital de cada cual.
El gobierno de los Estados Unidos proveerá anualmente en calidad de asignación, un bloque por la misma cantidad de fondos que actualmente comprende sus aportaciones a Puerto Rico. En adición a aquellos fondos distribuidos como compensaciones, entitlements, a residentes individuales en la fecha en que entre en vigor el acuerdo.
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El gobierno de Puerto Rico eh de Estados Unidos mantendrá la autoridad para y responsabilidad para velar por los asuntos de seguridad internacional y defensa pertinentes a Puerto Rico, sujeto a los términos y convenios por separado. Puerto Rico no estará incluido en el territorio aduanero de los Estados Unidos. La moneda de los Estados Unidos continuará siendo la oficial y circulante legal en Puerto Rico y todas las leyes de los Estados Unidos relativas a dicha moneda se hacen parte de ésta.
El proyecto debe establecer, que en caso de que el resultado de la votación arroje una mayoría simple, a favor de la independencia o la libre asociación, se aceptará esta como alternativa ganadora. Sin embargo, para la anexión será necesaria una mayoría absoluta.
Con respecto a los criterios para la elegilidad de los ciudadanos que votarán en el plebiscito, debe tomarse en cuenta la importancia de este proceso, el cual conllevaría la decisión final del destino de nuestro pueblo. Amparado en los precedentes de las Islas Palau, las Islas Marshall y la Micronesia, sugerimos la participación de todos los nacidos en Puerto Rico y sus hijos irrespectivamente de su residencia actual.
Cumplidos noventa y ocho de relación territorial corresponde a Estados Unidos el promover un proceso genuinamente colonizador, que permita deshacernos de los mitos asociados con la alternativa de status que convenientemente han creado los partidos políticos en Puerto Rico. Un paso afirmativo y esperanzador en dicho proceso debe ser el ofrecimiento al pueblo de Puerto Rico de una opción de libre asociación. Así lo solicitamos a nombre de nuestro pueblo.
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[The prepared statement of Mr. Mari follows:]
INSERT OFFSET FOLIOS 97 TO 102 HERE
Mr. UNDERWOOD. Senator Eduardo Morales-Coll.
STATEMENT OF EDUARDO MORALES-COLL, PRESIDENT, ATENEO PUERTORRIQUENO, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
Mr. MORALES-COLL. Muy buenas tardes a los miembros del Comité, y al pueblo puertorriqueño. Hice una ponencia por escrito, la cual ustedes tienen. Voy a limitarme a expresar algunas palabras solamente respecto a uno de los temas tratados.
El Ateneo puertorriqueño, la institución que presido, es una institución pluralista. Tiene miembros de todos los partidos políticos y por esa razón no expresamos ninguna opinión respecto a ninguna fórmula de status político. Solamente nos limitamos a tratar aquellos asuntos que sean de naturaleza cultural.
Ahora voy a hablar de una limitación que me preocupa grandemente y voy a hacer la observación de que el Proyecto 856, que pretende resolver la situación política puertorriqueña, está escrito en el idioma Inglés. Según el Buró del Censo de los Estados Unidos, para utilizar una referencia que nadie puede disputar, casi el ochenta por ciento de los puertorriqueños no conocen el idioma en que está proyecto está escrito.
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El Ateneo se tomó el trabajo de traducir ese proyecto al Español y distribuirlo. Hizo lo mejor que pudo. Hizo lo que este Comité no hizo para que todos los puertorriqueños pudieran entenderlo.
Segundo, el Proyecto 856, que pretende resolver la situación política de los puertorriqueños, no ha circulado entre los puertorriqueños para que estos tengan la oportunidad de expresarse en estas vistas. El Ateneo se tomó el trabajo de circularlo gratis a todas las personas que pudo. Hizo lo mejor que pudo, lo que no hizo este Comité, para que todos los puertorriqueños podamos tener copia de ese proyecto y que podamos entenderlo.
Tercero, el Ateneo invitó a todo nuestro país, en una invitación pública, para que todos los puertorriqueños desde los más humildes a los más favorecidos, vinieran al Ateneo para expresarse sobre este proyecto, comprometiéndonos en el Ateneo a traducirlo y hacérselo llegar a ustedes, para que ustedes hicieran uso de el como mejor pudieran.
Comparecieron al Ateneo más de cincuenta personas de todos los niveles, pobres y ricos, a hacerse oír y expresarse sobre el Proyecto 856 que tenían en sus manos, porque el Ateneo se los había provisto. La gran parte de ellos no podían comparecer a estas vistas, porque no dominan el Inglés, como no lo domina más del ochenta por ciento de nuestra población, o porque no tenían los $50 dólares que es el costo de las cien copias que es necesario radicar en esta comisión.
Page 116 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Abrimos este proyecto a la discusión pública de todos los puertorriqueños de todas las ideologías. Realizado todo este esfuerzo por el Ateneo para beneficio de nuestro país, para que todo nuestro pueblo entienda el proyecto que están considerando, nosotros nos comprometimos a traer esa expresión a ustedes. Al yo venir aquí, a la Comisión a traer copia, creo que ustedes la deben tener ya, de la transcripción que habíamos hecho de todas esas ponencias al idioma Inglés, se nos informó que incluir esas participaciones en el récord era muy caro. ¿Cuánto están ustedes dispuestos a gastar para reconocer la expresión de los puertorriqueños que no pudieron comparecer a estas vistas? [Applause].
Todo este proceso en el idioma Inglés es injusto para quien no ha recibido copia de esa ley en su idioma, o habiéndola recibido, no la entiende por ser sumamente técnica. Esta decisión de excluir la participación de aquellos que no pueden comparecer a estas vistas, es extremadamente injusta. Ustedes tienen copias de ellas. Yo se las someto con la súplica de que le den a estas personas que comparecieron al Ateneo, porque no pueden comparecer aquí hoy, la misma oportunidad que se ha dado en estas vistas, en el día de hoy, para que todas las personas que algún día lean el récord que habrá de levantarse de estas vistas, también encuentren que a ellas comparecieron policías, carpinteros y personas de todos los niveles económicos con y sin educación, para expresarse sobre algo que ellos saben que es de sumo interés porque es el destino de su nación.
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Mr. UNDERWOOD. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Morales-Coll follows:]
INSERT OFFSET FOLIOS 103 TO 115 HERE
Mr. UNDERWOOD. Next on my list is Mr. Manuel Fermin Arraiza, Puerto Rico Bar Association.
STATEMENT OF MANUEL FERMIN ARRAIZA, PRESIDENT, PUERTO RICO BAR ASSOCIATION, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
Mr. ARRAIZA. No se preocupe por eso. Mi nombre es Manuel Fermín Arraiza y soy el Presidente del Colegio de Abogados de Puerto Rico. El Colegio de Abogados de Puerto Rico se fundó el 27 de junio de 1840. Es la más antigua asociación civil de Puerto Rico y la más antigua asociación profesional de vida continua en Puerto Rico. El Colegio de Abogados de Puerto Rico es una institución plural, amplia, donde todo el espectro político partidista y no partidista tiene voz y voto. Nuestras expresiones de hoy tienen una trayectoria histórica que se remonta a 1944 y son la expresión oficial del Colegio de Abogados de Puerto Rico, dato que ustedes pueden comprobar por el apéndice que se unió a nuestra breve ponencia y que fueron tomados por consenso dentro de la Comisión de Desarrollo Constitucional del Colegio de Abogados de Puerto Rico, donde todas las tendencias políticas estuvieron representadas.
Page 118 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC La mejor prueba de que Puerto Rico es una colonia de los Estados Unidos de América es que tengamos que estar hoy aquí, bajo las condiciones que se explican en la carta de invitación. Es prepotente, paternalista y de condescendencia repudiable. Conceder cinco minutos a una institución civil, que desde 1944 se ha manifestado públicamente en términos institucionales no menos de veintiseis veces, es una falta de respeto. Pero reconocemos que el respeto no es la característica dominante de la metrópolis con la colonia.
El Colegio de Abogados de Puerto Rico no tiene preferencias sobre una solución particular al status nacional. El Colegio de Abogados de Puerto Rico no quiere la colonia, y aboga por un estado jurídico político digno para nuestra comunidad, libremente escogida por los puertorriqueños y que cumpla con los requisitos mínimos sustantivos y procesales que son satisfactorios en derecho internacional y política contemporánea.
Debo repetir hoy el angustiado e indignado clamor de nuestro Presidente, Licenciado Carlos Noriega en el 1993 ante las Naciones Unidas. ''Señores, quinientos años de coloniaje, es mucho coloniaje. ¿Hasta cuándo?''
En esencia, el planteamiento procesal que propone el Colegio de Abogados de Puerto Rico es que un órgano deliberativo, libremente electo por los puertorriqueños, y con representación del universo ideológico político formule una propuesta específica para ser negociada con los Estados Unidos, en plano de igualdad soberana. Es, y debe ser así ejercido, el derecho del pueblo de Puerto Rico a escoger sus delegados, decidir la fórmula y los lapsos de tiempo para la negociación, sin imposiciones externas al pueblo de Puerto Rico, todo ello conjugado armónicamente con la Resolución 1514 de la Asamblea General de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas.
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Difícilmente podrá conseguirse en el hemisferio Americano, una institución que haya defendido con más gallardía que el Colegio de Abogados de Puerto Rico, el sistema democrático de gobierno, el gobierno republicano, el estado de derecho, los derechos humanos y constitucionales, la justicia y la paz.
Precisamente de todo esto, es que trata la descolonización, que agravia al que la sufre y baldona al que la impone y sostiene. El colonialismo, como la esclavitud y como el apartheid, no tienen justificación en el día de hoy.
No puede encubrirse más la situación de Puer- del pueblo de Puerto Rico con medias verdades y fórmulas ilusorias y vanas. No traten de engañar al mundo libre. No pretendan sostener el sofisma que plantearon en la ONU. Es obligación del Congreso de Estados Unidos, propiciar el cambio definitivo de Puerto Rico, desde la ignominia de la conculcación, a la dignidad de la libertad buscada y asumida fervorosamente. Ser colonia del gobierno más poderoso del mundo no es honor. Es una deshonra para ustedes y motivo de pudor para nosotros.
Puerto Rico no es una cosa. Es un pueblo formado y con identidad propia. Puerto Rico no es objeto de comercio entre las naciones. Puerto Rico tiene su personalidad, y como lo que es, debe negociar su futuro con sus iguales. El espectro vergonzoso del Tratado de París y los casos insulares todavía indignan a las conciencias libres. Las Naciones Unidas señalaron la década de 1990 al 2000 como la década de la descolonización. Puerto Rico, mi patria, es una nación que no ha ejercitado a plenitud su derecho inalienable a la autodeterminación. Ustedes, el Congreso de los Estados Unidos de América, tiene la obligación moral y política de propiciar ese ejercicio. No les pedimos un favor, les exigimos un derecho. No queremos por caridad, lo que merecemos por justicia.
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Mr. UNDERWOOD. I would like to state an observation that the limitations of Congress do not mean that people do not take the ideas and sentiments quite seriously. I think the fact the Committee is here and the fact that the leadership in particular of this Committee has been seriously involved in this issue is important. The time and scheduling could not include the opportunity for everybody to appear.
Mr. YOUNG. I have a question, because I do think you offered some suggestions.
I really would suggest there has to be a change. This is the way I got involved in this. The status quo will not exist, it cannot exist and should not exist.
As the gentleman at the endalthough I rarely agree with lawyers, I do think there is a moral obligation on behalf of the United States. So I want to congratulate each one of you.
I have a question about the Serrano amendment. Are you aware of this amendment, the voting by Puerto Ricans that are outside of Puerto Rico itself? I believe his amendment goes to the point it isn't limited to children born in Puerto Rico. I think it goes beyond that.
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Would anyone like to comment on that?
Ms. MANGUAL VELEZ. Sí, con mucho gusto.
El Partido Independentista entiende que los nacionales de Puerto Rico son los únicos, los que tienen derecho a ejercer su derecho a la libre autodeterminación. Y son nacionales los que nacieron en Puerto Rico y los hijos cuyos padres hayan nacido en Puerto Rico, aunque residan fuera de Puerto Rico.
Mr. YOUNG. What you are saying is the parent is born in Puerto Rico, moves to the United States. Their childrenbut the children's children would not vote?
Ms. MANGUAL VELEZ. Eh pues, podrían votar, podríamos buscar la manera de aquellas personas que fueran hijos de padres que han nacido en Puerto Rico y que tienen el deseo de regresar, tienen lazos afectivos en Puerto Rico, un interés económico, político, social, puedan ejercer el derecho al voto. Todo depende del interés que tengan en regresar, de establecer unos lazos afectivos con Puerto Rico.
Mr. YOUNG. On the economics of it, Professor, I am somewhat in sympathy with what you have to say, your proximity to the Latin American countries. As a Commonwealth, you are prohibited to trade directly with Latin American countries, and probably as a State you would also be unable to trade directly with them. Is that correct?
Page 122 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. IRIZARRY-MORA. Yes, sir. For the benefit of the people who are listening and watching through television, I will answer in Spanish.
Sí, bajo la estadidad, se impondrían las reglas eh. . . De los estados, en términos del. . . Del . . . Existe un comercio interestatal, del cual Puerto Rico ha participado durante todo este siglo, por ser parte de. . . Estar dentro del comercio, del mercado común de los Estados Unidos. . . Eh. . . Pero es la independencia la opción que le provee a Puerto Rico la oportunidad de establecer nexos comerciales a través de tratados con países Caribeños, con países Latinoamericanos sin ningún tipo de impedimento, es decir, es la soberanía del pueblo de Puerto Rico la que le permitiría establecer ese tipo de contacto comercial con los países Caribeños, Latinoamericanos y con la Comunidad Europea y con el Sureste Asiático y por supuesto, con Estados Unidos, con Canadá, con todo el mundo. Y yo creo quedentro de nuestra perspectiva económica, tendríamos el poder suficiente para atraer esa inversión que en este momento no llega, como muy bien usted ha señalado, porque se nos impone una camisa de fuerza, que impide la llegada de inversión desde el resto del mundo, fuera de la inversión que llega directamente de los Estados Unidos.
Mr. YOUNG. My time is up, gentleman.
The Chairman has touched upon it, those who could not testify. But the process as set forth in this bill is a long, slow process. Don't lose sight of that.
Puerto Ricans will have a chance to vote each time in the three-step process on whether they want to go forward, very much like Alaska did; and then eventually it will get to the Congress to be ratified. This is not an up-and-down vote.
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And as far as everybody not getting a copy of the bill, we probably should have printed it in Spanish. We can't write a law in other than English to be actually legal, your lawyer will tell you that, in the U.S. Congress. We will do our best to try to keep enough information going through to the people of Puerto Rico and the media and make every effort we can to make sure that occurs.
I want to stress one thing, not to pat myself on the back, but this is a break where many of these Members of Congress could have gone home. I ask you to think about it. Where would you be if we had not started this process?
If you are happy about the status quo and want to stay where you are, if you want no progress, you will be perfectly unhappy with what I am doing. But I am trying to bring a solution, because I think it is long past the time to have a colony or a territory under the United States' jurisdiction.
That is where it is, my personal belief; and this is why, as Chairman, I have gone forth with this process. Although it may not seem fair at times, it is the only way we have to work within the framework of our congressional body itself.
So keep in mind, each one of these people volunteered their time to come down here. I honor them for being with me. I have allowed them to chair the meetings for each different panel to try to get a better participation.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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Mr. UNDERWOOD. Thank you.
Mr. MILLER. No questions.
Mr. UNDERWOOD. Mr. Kennedy?
Mr. KENNEDY. No questions.
Mr. YOUNG. Just one final question on the issue of the vote. The way that it has been described, it always gets a little unwieldy to parents. I can understand that. Children, I don't know. It seems a little convoluted.
Do you agree with the notion put forth in the legislation that Congress has the right to withdraw citizenship from people in the territories?
Ms. MANGUAL VELEZ Nosotros entendemos que el Congreso tiene la autoridad, el poder, bajo la cláusula territorial para establecer los mecanismos adecuados para terminar con el problema colonial de Puerto Rico.
Bajo la cláusula territorial, puede el Congreso aprobar cualquier legislación que provea los mecanismos adecuados y que le garanticen a los nacionales de Puerto Rico, excluyendo a los extranjeros que residan aquí, para que solamente los Puertorriqueños tenga el derecho a ejercer el derecho al voto. Entre los nacionales tenemos a los hijos de los Puertorriqueños que residen en territorio en Estados Unidos, a los Puertorriqueños que no residan aquí pero que sean hijos de padres Puertorriqueños.
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Mr. UNDERWOOD. My question is, do you accept the fact that the U.S. Congress can take away citizenship from Puerto Ricans?
And it would seem to me that if you do accept that, if you do accept that there is congressional authority to do that, then the people who should be allowed to vote would be the people who would lose their citizenship, who would lose the citizenship as a consequence of participation in the plebiscite.
That would, in my estimation, would not include Puerto Ricans on the mainland, because their citizenship would not be affected. But if you were a Puerto Rican who lived here and who had become a citizen through congressional action, then that seems to me the clearest link to determining who should actually participate in this election.
Mr. RODRIGUEZ-ORELLANA. Y si me permite. . . [Applause] No tengo la menor duda, señor Presidente, de que el Congreso de los Estados Unidos, quien impuso la ciudadanía estadounidense en contra de la voluntad, en contra de la voluntad de los puertorriqueños en 1917, tiene el perfecto poder en el 1997 de eliminar la ciudadanía estadounidense sobre el territorio de la colonia de Puerto Rico. Eso es así bajo el Estado Libre Asociado. Bajo la independencia, no tenemos ningún empeño en tener la ciudadanía de Estados Unidos. Queremos la ciudadanía puertorriqueña en la República de Puerto Rico.
Ahora bien. . . Ahora bien. . . En la. . . El planteamiento suyo es, que como pueden ustedes quitar la ciudadanía estadounidense, podrían entonces ustedes quitarle la franquicia también a los puertorriqueños para votar, en un proceso de autodeterminación, y me parece que eso es tergiversar el orden lógico de las cosas. La realidad aquí es, que la nacionalidad puertorriqueña precedió a la ciudadanía. Por lo tanto es la nacionalidad puertorriqueña, los nacionales de Puerto Rico, los que deben participar en una determinación, independientemente de dónde vivan.
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Y voy un paso más lejos. Si ustedes deciden en el poder omnímodo que tienen, quitarle la ciudadanía estadounidense a los puertorriqueños ahora, no se la quitan solamente a los que están residiendo aquí; se la quitan también a los que están residiendo allá, que hayan nacido acá. De manera que eso les crea a ustedes un problema mucho peor que el que ustedes quieren resolver.
Mr. UNDERWOOD. As I understand the discussion, Puerto Rican nationality exists independently of congressional law. That must be the basic assumption on the process of self-determination. We are never going to resolve that through congressional law.
What I think we resolve through congressional action is what Congress can give and take away is what should be the consequence of anything that is authorized by Congress. That was the only basic point.
My own time is running out. Yes, sir?
Mr. MARI. Entendemoseque. . . Eh. . . Personalmente yo, no tengo problema en eh. . . Si pierdo o no la ciudadanía Americana sino, pero sin embargo respondiendo a mucha gente en Puerto Rico, que en realidad para ellos, es verdaderamente un problema, nosotros no estamos de acuerdo con su eh. . . Posición en el sentido de que exista una eh. . . Un poder del Congreso bajo la cláusula territorial de revocar la ciudadanía de la manera que usted lo plantea.
Y esto, en realidad podríamos. . . Yo soy abogado, entrar en un tratado legal porque es muchos casos que tocan el asunto, y que ciertamente, no lo pone en los términos tan sencillos como usted lo está planteando. Para mí, es un derecho personal que tienen las. . . Que persona y si lo ha adquirido, existen unas maneras de defenderlo.
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Por ejemplo, cuando en Puerto Rico se impone, como dijo el Presidente del Colegio de Abogados, la ciudadanía Americana en el 1917, fue a vis de unas invasiones posibles que existieran para Puerto Rico y siendo ciudadanos Americanos pues existía ya Estados Unidos con un. . . Es un derecho para defender a esos ciudadanos. Posteriormente en el 1942 hubo una ley de este propio Congreso, que estableció no solamente por legislación, que los puertorriqueños tenían derecho a la ciudadanía, sino que esa legislación muy específicamente dice, que para todos los efectos de ley, los puertorriqueños se reputarán nacidos en Estados Unidos. O sea, ya cambia de una ciudadanía obtenida por medio de legislación, a una obteni- una que se torna constitucional.
Como le digo, eso es un debate bastante profundo. . . Me está también [Another voice] Que como hemos dicho antes, hay un asunto político que. . . Es más importante que este jurídico.
Mr. RODRIGUEZ-ORELLANA. Y solamente permítame aclarar una cosa de mi contestación anterior. Me refiero al poder que tiene el Congreso para quitarla prospectivamente. Retroactivamente, ya eso es otro problema constitucional. Mi contestación anterior se refería a quitarla prospectivamente.
Mr. UNDERWOOD. Well, perhaps fortunately for all of us, most of the members in the current Committee are not lawyers, at this moment.
OK, thank you very much.
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Mr. KENNEDY. OK. I would like to have the fourth panel come up: Kenneth McClintock-Hernandez, Angel Cintron-Garcia, Zoraida Fonalledas, Etienne Totti del Valle, Ivar Pietri, and Hector Reichard. Thank you.
I would like to have the Honorable Kenneth McClintock-Hernandez begin for this panel.
STATEMENT OF KENNETH McCLINTOCK-HERNANDEZ, DESIGNEE FOR THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, SENATE OF PUERTO RICO, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
Mr. MCCLINTOCK-HERNANDEZ. Thank you.
I will address you in English, the language several Harvard, Yale, and Oxford antistatehood witnesses here today have collectively chosen to forget for political grandstanding purposes.
I first appeared before this Committee as a teenager to oppose a bill endorsed by the Popular Democratic Party that would have changed Puerto Rico's political status without a vote from the people of Puerto Rico. Twenty-one years later, after being elected twice to the Senate and having recently been elected by fellow state legislators and Governors as vice chairman of the Council of State Governments, I appear once again to support the Young bill, which for the very first time would provide a congressionally mandated opportunity to determine Puerto Rico's political status.
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During those 21 years, I have spent perhaps half of my time and energy fighting for equality. The political indecision that past congressional and local inaction has represented exacts a terrible toll on our people. It divides our families, our communities, and our body politic, and it imposes a huge economic burden.
During 5 years in the Senate, I have been able to sample the economic costs that the status quo imposes on our people, many of which can't be adequately quantified, but that certainly cost us billions of dollars every year and hundreds of thousands of jobs. In many ways, we remain separate and unequal. Plessy v. Ferguson still lives in Puerto Rico.
In the air transportation industry, for example, most airlines treat us as ''international''separate and unequal. Considering that most fellow Americans prefer domestic travel''See America First''over international travel, every time American Airlines switches you to their ''international'' desk when you attempt to book a flight to Puerto Rico, damage is done to our tourism industry.
It gets worse: In spite of having your boarding pass and having gone through the FAA-required security check, Delta Airlines forces you to stand in line again to obtain an ''International Boarding Control Number.'' You certainly get the impression you are on your way to a ''banana republic.'' In the entertainment industry, Puerto Rico is also treated as a foreign marketseparate and unequal. The rights to American TV programming are sold here under international syndication, forcing cable TV systems to block out many broadcasts from the mainland, including the Olympics and other sporting events, pageants, and other programming, thus depriving American citizens of timely, quality programming. While, thanks to legislative pressure, movies no longer open months after opening on the mainland, many still take weeks to arrive on the island because, once again, we are separate and unequal. In commerce, many multinational companies treat Puerto Rico as part of their international, rather than domestic, operationsonce again, separate and unequal. May I show you the most recent example. I am sure you haven't missed McDonald's anniversary 55-cent national promotion, applicable from Bangor to San Diego, from Key West to Anchorage. But it doesn't apply in what, evidently, McDonald's considers the ''banana republic of Puerto Rico,'' depriving our consumers of the savings available to the rest of their fellow Americans stateside.
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McDonald's is not alone. A few years ago, as we attempted to resolve a constituent's problem, we had to deal with Chrysler Internationalin London, England, of all placesrather than Chrysler Corporation in Detroit. In the interest of time, I will not go on and on with the many examples of economic discrimination that political indecision and the status quo foster. Our political status debate transcends hamburgers, plane tickets, and TV programs, but the untold examples demonstrate that the spirit of Plessy v. Fergusonseparate and unequalpervades every aspect of our lives and imposes exacting tolls on society as a whole, depriving us of the equal protection that American flag is supposed to provide. The enactment of H.R. 856 provides the only real chance for an end to the economic segregation of Puerto Rico and the hope that some day we may be treated as equals, should that be the choice of the American citizens residing in Puerto Rico, in concert with Congress.
Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. McClintock-Hernandez follows:]
INSERT OFFSET FOLIOS 116 TO 121 HERE
Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. Angel Cintron-Garcia.
STATEMENT OF HON. ANGEL M. CINTRON-GARCIA, DESIGNEE FOR THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, PUERTO RICO HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
Page 131 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CINTRON-GARCIA. Thank you, sir.
Chairman Young, Mr. Miller, Mr. Romero-Barceló, and members of the Committee on Resources of the U.S. House of Representatives, my name is Angel Cintron-Garcia. It is my privilege to continue serving the people of Puerto Rico in our House of Representatives for a third term as an at-large representative for the pro-statehood New Progressive Party. I am currently chairman of the Committee on Federal and Financial Affairs. Today I have the honor of testifying on behalf of the House Speaker.
In 1995, I testified before a joint hearing of the Subcommittee on Native and Insular Affairs regarding the results of the plebiscite of political status held in 1993 here in Puerto Rico. Back then, many local pundits spoke about the lack of resolve on your part to finally address and bring to an end the issue of Puerto Rico's self-determination. Nonetheless, you proved them wrong again when youand we are gratifiedby your renewed commitment to address this issue early on in this, the 105th Congress.
As time maybe more on our side this time around, I think it is extremely important to address all concerns that various Members of Congress might have regarding the various aspects of the bill, particularly the definitions contained within. That way, we will make sure that this process is a successful one. Therefore, in my case, I want to dwell on the concern brought forth by some Members of Congress regarding the issue of language in the case of statehood.
Concerns brought forth by some Members with regard to this issue have been twisted and misconstrued by the opponents of statehood. They argue that the true motive behind those concerns is a deep bedded racism toward Hispanics and other minorities within the United States, irrespective of whether they are U.S. citizens or not. Instead, these narrow-minded individuals here in Puerto Rico try to portray our Nation as being culturally monolithic, rather than taking into consideration the multicultural character of American society and its long and venerable history that is widely recognized as one of the United States' greatest strengths.
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Nonetheless, I want to reassure those Members of Congress that we share most, if not all, of their concerns, especially our common quest for national cohesiveness between Puerto Rico and the 50 States. That is why I feel that this issue goes even further than just sharing a common language. It involves a respect for a series of values, as put forth by our Founding Fathers in the Constitution. Also, it entails a respect and commitment for such valued institutions such as the U.S. Armed Forces and others.
Still, in the last 4 years as chairman of the Select Committee on Banking Affairs, I had the honor of sponsoring important legislation that provides for further threads of national reform that I spearheaded. As part of banking reform that I spearheaded, we adopted the 1994 Riegle-Neal Act here in our island, allowing for further interaction between local and national banking institutions.
I also sponsored legislation amending our international banking law, thus providing a very important tool for the availability of funds for mainland and local companies interested in financing their export of products and services in regional trade.
In addition, I sponsored another important measure that allowed for the adoption of the UCC, Uniform Commercial Code, here in Puerto Rico, replacing our old mercantile act. This provided for easier commercial relations between the Government, companies in the mainland U.S., and Puerto Rico.
This term, as chairman of the Committee with jurisdiction over banking, I intend to update all the additional banking laws, including the creation of a currency exchange center here in Puerto Rico.
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Last year, as chairman of the Select Committee on Telecommunications, I sponsored six measures which brought about an overhaul of the telecommunications market in Puerto Rico in accordance with all the recent FCC rulings. This year, as chairman of the Committee with jurisdiction over this area, we intend to update these laws in accordance with the FCC rulings and relevant court decisions.
These measures provide a much needed and very useful common ground with most Federal and State laws, facilitating indefinite and commercial connection between mainland businesses and local enterprise, obviously, going even further in striving for the common goal of national cohesiveness than just implementing a language provision in this bill. They obviously exploit our island's competitive advantage due to its location and its bilingual work force in order to maximize our potential as a bridge between the Americas, as a gateway for the United States and the rest of the hemisphere.
We can be an asset. We know that we can stand on our feet. We have all confidences in our people. We only need the opportunity to express our desire to be equal persons with the other 50 States. As our Governor says, ''Lo mejor que está por venir.''
In conclusion, we deserve to have a bill signed by the President of the United States later this year so that not another year goes by without us having the opportunity to finally achieve equality within the United States. One hundred years is more than enough time for the United States to act over an issue that affects the approximately 4 million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico. Please, make House Resolution 856 a reality.
Page 134 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC God bless Puerto Rico and our children. God bless America.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Cintrón-García follows:]
INSERT OFFSET FOLIOS 236 TO 239 HERE
Mr. KENNEDY. Ms. Fonalledas.
STATEMENT OF ZORAIDA F. FONALLEDAS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEEWOMAN, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
Ms. FONALLEDAS. Chairman Young, Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Miller, Senor Barceló, and distinguished Members of Congress, my name is Zoraida Fonalledas. On behalf of the Republican Party of Puerto Rico, bien venidos a nuestra isla, I welcome you to our beautiful island and applaud the Committee's effort to provide a process that will finally give our 3.7 million United States citizens the right to freely determine their political status and to resolve the century-old relationship with the United States.
I am proud that our party platform and Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush have supported Puerto Rico statehood. H.R. 856 will be the fulfillment of our party's commitment to this goal.
Today I would like to make two points about H.R. 856: That the status quo must end. Puerto Rico's current status, started as an unincorporated territory subject to the Constitution territorial clause, must be ended by establishing full self-governing through either statehood or independence. For nearly 80 years we have been United States citizens, but we have no voting powers for the President, who, as our Commander-in-Chief, has sent over 200,000 of our youth into battle, defending the Constitution which the court has determined is not fully applicable to us. Congress continues to make laws that affect our daily lives with no political accountability to any of the island's residents. This is intolerable.
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After 400 years of Spanish rule and a century of American administration, we in Puerto Rico have earned our right to be first class citizens. The bill provides a process by which that goal may be achieved.
Second, America must admit Puerto Rico to the Union. The United States can ill afford not to admit Puerto Rico to the Union, as I hope it is in 1998.
I am not talking about monetary costs, since statehood has never been a business decision. As my grandfather said, President Rafael Martinez Nadad, statehood is not a question of dollars and cents, but of a desire for liberty. ''La estadidad no es una cuestión de pesos y centavos, es cuestión de dignidad, de honor, de justicia y de el mínimo anhelo de libertad.''
Denial of Puerto Rico's statehood will undermine America's credibility as the world leader in promoting liberty abroad and our relation with the more than 3 million Hispanics in the Western Hemisphere. And at home, political success in America among the 27 million Hispanics, whose number will go up by the year 2010, will go to those who seek to be inclusive of America's largest minority.
What chances would exist for candidates in key States such as California, Texas, Arizona, and Florida, where the Hispanic vote is critical to victory, if Congress fails to recognize Puerto Rico's right to statehood? The answer is self-evident. Puerto Rico must be allowed in statehood its language and culture.
Page 136 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ronald Reagan put it best when he said, ''In statehood, the language and culture of the island, rich in history and tradition, would be respected, for in the United States the cultures of the world live together with pride.'' The self-determination process must be honest.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, as you and Chairmen Burton, Gallegly, and Gilman wrote in 1996 in response to the results of the plebiscite, there is a need in Congress to define the real options for change and the true legal and political nature of the status quo, so that the people can know what the actual choices will be in the future. This you have accomplished in this bill. All the status options as defined in the bill are capable of constitutional implementation.
The statehood definition is a good example. Puerto Rico will know that statehood will mean first class United States citizenship, a vote for President and Members of Congress, guaranteed United States citizenship for, full funding of Federal programs, and the continuation of both English and Spanish as the official languages of Puerto Rico.
Thus, initiative to rewrite this definition must be resisted, particularly efforts in Congress to really define statehoodredefine the statehood definition by establishing English as the official language or requiring English in Puerto Rico as the official language must be viewed as an attempt to compromise the self-determination process by forcing voters to choose, regardless of constitutionality, between retaining Spanish and voting for statehood.
The Constitution aside, we should recognize in this shrinking world that building linguistic bridges will enrich this Nation. In this respect, the bill wisely seeks to promote understanding and use of English in Puerto Rico, a skill not only necessary to participate fully in American society, but equally important as a tool for commercial success.
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In conclusion, I encourage the Committee to have this bill passed by the full House as it now stands. Puerto Rico stands as an anomaly to the rest of the free world: The most populous colony, disenfranchized, administered by the foremost champion of democracy and self-determination.
Puerto Rico has endured half a millenium of its colonial rule. Puerto Rico must enter the new millenium in full control of its destiny, as either a State or as an independent nation. Passage of the United States-Puerto Rico Political Status Act will serve America and Puerto Rico well at home and abroad.
May God bless us all. And just a few words in Spanish.
Permítanme decirles estos. . . A estos miles de republicanos y demócratas estadistas, que estén conscientes de estos puntos. Puerto Rico tiene que defender y asegurar su ciudadanía Americana, obtener el voto presidencial, obtener el derecho a dos senadores y siete representantes en el Congreso de los Estados Unidos y obtener iguales derechos en fondos Federales que otros estados de la nación Americana. Puerto Rico tiene que defender su cultura y sus tradiciones y sus dos idiomas, Español e Inglés. Queremos ser el próximo estado de la unión. Ahora, no de aquí a quinientos años.
El ideal de la estadidad de Barboza y Martinez Nadal vive en nuestros corazones y vivirá hasta que consigamos ser el próximo estado de la unión Americana.
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Que Dios nos bendiga a todos y a toda esta juventud que será el futuro de nuestro Puerto Rico.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Fonalledas follows:]
INSERT OFFSET FOLIOS 125 TO 136 HERE
Mr. KENNEDY. I would like to have Etienne Totti del Valle.
STATEMENT OF ETIENNE TOTTI DEL VALLE, ESQUIRE, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
Mr. TOTTI DEL VALLE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I know you must be tired, and I appreciate your patience. If you are tired after several hours of this, imagine how the people of Puerto Rico feel after centuries of the same old debate.
I earnestly hope what I have to say will do honor to the generations as proud as I am of our heritage and loyalty to the principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence, who have passed from this life with the unanswered hope of leaving a legacy of true democracy and equality for the future generations of our beloved boriquen.
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Let us consider some objective facts. In 1917, the Jones Act granted U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans. The logical and natural expectation that this would lead to incorporation of the island into the United States and therefore to statehood was soon derailed by the U.S. decision in the Supreme Court of People v. Balzac, which branded Puerto Rico as an unincorporated territory.
This is my passport. It is no different from the passport of millions of fellow citizens that reside in the 50 States. Our citizenship is unqualified. In this regard, I respectfully urge the Committee to reconsider the drafting of Finding 2 in Section 2 of H.R. 856, specifically where it states that Congress extendedand I quotespecial statutory U.S. citizenship to persons born in Puerto Rico.
The Jones act made no reference to special citizenship. Three generations of Puerto Ricans in my family have proudly served in the Armed Forces of our Nation. Just as our passports are no different, our uniforms are no different. We have no labels allusive to special statutory citizenship.
We are indeed special in many ways, but from the standpoint of citizenship, we Puerto Ricans are as strong as the strongest link that bonds the proud people of the United States of America.
Labeling our citizenship as special can foster misunderstanding. Those of us born in Puerto Rico after the 2nd of March, 1917, were born citizens of our great and glorious Nation. Puerto Rican Americans have died in the stars and stripes uniform since before you were born.
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Nearly 4 million citizens live in Puerto Rico. The number of Puerto Ricans living in the mainland has been estimated at 2.5 million. The population of the United States at last count did not reach 300 million.
It is a fact that more than 1 out of every 50 U.S. citizens alive today is Puerto Rican. More than 1 out of every 80 Americans lives in Puerto Rico. It is time, once and for all, to debunk the myth that Puerto Ricans are, objectively speaking, anything other than U.S. citizens.
Subjective identity is another matter. No single subjective identity, whether based on ethnicity, culture, religion, or origin, is incompatible with U.S. citizenship.
As a former chief justice of the Puerto Rico Supreme Court, Emilio del Toro in 1911 wrote: The United States of America was founded upon such stable principles as would permit the conglomeration under its flag of all the people of the earth, regardless of their language, their beliefs, their customs, if they coincide on the fundamental idea of respect for human rights and on the guarantee of man's progress toward goodness.
The freedom that our Nation stands for in the eyes of the entire world guarantees my right to be different from you and your right to be different from each of your colleagues, provided we all come together on a small but very basic set of principles and ideals. The major and most transcendental of these principles is equality. So sacred is the tenet of equality that our Founding Fathers began the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.
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The present political status of Puerto Rico provides inequality with our fellow U.S. citizens. Residents of Puerto Rico are unequal because our political system, based almost exclusively on status preference, has the practical effect of preventing the free and intelligent exercise of our right to vote. We vote, hostages of the emotion that permeates status politics. This prevents us from selecting among candidates based on rational analysis.
Status politics is a plague that pits one Puerto Rican against another, rendering us pawns in a never ending game that most politicians play. Mainland Americans are free to exercise their right to vote in a political election without regard or concern for status. Therein lies the first measure of our inequality, one that we owe, in part, to the timid aloofness of one Congress after another.
If only we had the Young bill back in 1917 or 1950, we would have been rid of the playing of the status politics which fosters divisiveness. But we have remained unequal throughout the century.
As a constituency of Americans, we are underrepresented. Our congressional representation, though not lacking in quality, is sorely lacking in quantity. The residents of Puerto Rico are recognizing that we lack the power that is essential to representative democracy.
For all proclamations made during five decades about Puerto Rico as a showcase of democracy, the honest to goodness truth is that the United States cannot preach democracy to the world when it has nearly 4 million citizens disenfranchised right here in the Western Hemisphere for all the world to see.
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Why is there an exercise of public power over our borders, our forests, airports, communications, environment, water, and postal service, defense, food and drugs, minimum wages, banking laws, immigration and taxes, by a legislature in which we lack total representation, but by government isolation to legislation, we do not participate.
Put yourself in our position, if you will. There is so much that you take for granted that is lacking in our political system. The power will only reside with people when people have a right to vote for leaders that shape our Nation and guide its course through history.
As Americans, we want our rightful political power. We cannot hold the leaders of our Nation accountable; therein, another measure of our inequality.
Consider: The decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Harris v. Rosario, which is the highest court of our Nation, decided an American citizen living in Puerto Rico could be treated differently from citizens residing in States. There was a rational basis for such a disparate treatment.
The Young bill offers more than a glimmer of hope for Puerto Rico. It offers the first opportunity in over 500 years for Puerto Rico to obtain full sovereignty. It offers the promise obtain to achieve full self government. It offers the promise of redemption from status politics, allowing the realignment of orders on the basis of philosophy instead of tribal colors. This piece of legislation progressively seeks to break with the past for this and future generations of Americans living here. The stability that a final status determination will provide shall help the climate for investment in Puerto Rico.
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Finally, and most importantly, the Young bill bears the promise of political empowerment for people who will cherish it and exercise it as full participants in all our national concerns. I say this mindful of the fact that the people of Puerto Rico will have a clear and fair opportunity to express a reference for separate nationhood.
Whatever the choice, if Congress follows up by enacting appropriate legislation, Puerto Ricans will united with dignity and political rights in a true democracy. The aspirations and dreams of those who espouse the ideal of a separate republic should have our utmost respect.
We have a great responsibility at this historical juncture. It is imperative that Congress, first, and then the people of Puerto Rico, act with transparent clarity and resolute firmness. I believe from the very depths of my soul that the people of Puerto Rico could never enjoy a greater independence than that available to them, together as one with the other States of the Union.
I respectfully urge you and your fellow Representatives to hold steadfastly to your equitable, moral, and constitutional duties to Puerto Ricans. In order for this long overdue initiative to be successful, any legislation enacted must provide clear choices to Puerto Rico's voters. I believe the Young bill, as drafted, meets that standard. Next, the choices provided must be realistic lest this titanic effort become another exercise in futility.
And finally, as an American, I urge you to view and to support this bill as a means for dignification of American citizenship. In order to form a more perfect Union, our citizenship cannot be viewed nor treated as a commodity to be bartered with. American citizenship is not a passport of convenience to be brandished solely for the sake of the doors that it may unlock and the opportunities that it may offer. Our citizenship entails obligations and loyalties that Puerto Ricans have shown time and again.
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Our citizenship entails obligations and loyalties that Puerto Ricans have shown time and again they are willing to assume even at the highest personal cost. The dignification of American citizenship, in our view, requires an unquestioned allegiance to one nation that thrives on freedom and diversity, from Rhode Island to California, from Alaska to Puerto Rico, but loyalty to one republic; allegiance that is true to the concept of e pluribus unum.
As Americans, we would do well to ask ourselves what rational basis can exist to request a legacy of citizenship to future generations while seeking to remain forever unequal. The world will watch closely. Democracy beckons and a government of the people, by the people, and for the people must ultimately result from this initiative. Give the people of Puerto Rico the chance to make a clear choice, to come to grips with their destiny, to allow this daughter of the sea to become one with the land of the free.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Totti del Valle follows:]
INSERT OFFSET FOLIOS 137 TO 144 HERE
Mr. KENNEDY. [Presiding] Mr. Pietri.
STATEMENT OF IVAR PIETRI, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
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Mr. PIETRI. Good afternoon, Chairman Young, Ranking Member Miller, Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Underwood and Mr. Romero-Barceló.
My name is Ivar Pietri. I appear before you as a private citizen that has, for 25 years, been a close analyst of the economy of Puerto Rico. For 15 years, I have served as an investment banker based in San Juan with a major international firm; and I helped raise over $20 billion in bond issues for borrowers in Puerto Rico. I am here to share with the Committee my insights into the economy of Puerto Rico as it relates to the political status issue. I am submitting for the record a more detailed presentation with economic charts.
I want to preface my comments by stating for the record that I am proud to be a U.S. citizen and that I believe that the United States of America, our country, is the greatest in the history of mankind. I want to ensure that U.S. citizenship for myself and for my four children. I want full rights as a citizen, and I am most willing to assume all the responsibilities, and I believe firmly that the only way to attain that goal is for Puerto Rico to be admitted as the 51st State.
Mr. Chairman, Puerto Rico is not and has never been an economic miracle. The economy of Puerto Rico has completely stagnated for 25 years. For decades, the local administrations, led by commonwealth advocates, purposely and irresponsibly pursued a one-dimensional development strategy, neglecting other initiatives and policies in order to foster dependency on Section 936 to sustain their political goals.
As we know, there are many conflicting views about the economic impact of statehood. Section and U.S. taxes have been the center of the economic arguments against statehood. There have been several studies that supposedly analyze the economic viability of statehood for Puerto Rico. However, they all share the same critical flaw: They are a static analysis that superimpose the U.S. tax system on our economy, remove Section 936, and then assume that nothing else changes. Well, that is not statehood; that is commonwealth with U.S. taxes and without 936. And, obviously, that would be negative.
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These studies completely ignore the most important benefits of statehood: full integration to a U.S. economy, political power, credibility, permanence and the broad comprehension around the world of what it is. The benefits of statehood are definitely tangible, and they are concrete, and they will have an extremely positive impact.
Historically, territories have had a lower economic level than the States. Upon admission into the Union, full integration to a U.S. economy, they experience accelerated growth that allow them to converge with the national economy. Mr. Chairman, statehood is a precondition to Puerto Rico's economic growth not vice versa.
The opponents of statehood have used the notion that predevelopment must come before Puerto Rico is ready for statehood to distort the historical fact that statehood leads to economic growth, and we have 50 examples of that. It is easy to use faulty analysis to pretend you can prove statehood would ruin our economy and would be more costly to the U.S. than the other options.
To believe some faulty logic defies logic and turns a blind eye to certain key facts. Why have the other 50 States been so successful, especially Alaska and Hawaii, the most recent States? And why can Puerto Rico not enjoy such success as part of the greatest and most prosperous nation on earth? After all, let us not forget that at the turn of the century the U.S. had five great offshore territories. Alaska and Hawaii became States, and they have prospered. Cuba and the Philippines chose independence, and we all know how much they have prospered.
Puerto Rico is still a territory, and it has marched along this entire century showing potential that will never be fulfilled until we become a State. To believe we cannot achieve more progress as a full partner in the Nation is to have a very cynical view of what it means to be a part of this great Nation, and it also takes a very dim view of our capabilities as Puerto Ricans to compete in the global economy and to contribute to our Nation.
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This is the same view that held that the people of Puerto Rico are welfare basket cases and will all migrate to the mainland to go on welfare if the Congress made changes to Section 936. Have we not all heard that before? The enemies of statehood put our own people down to confuse us, to confuse the Congress and to confuse the Nation about the potential of Puerto Rico as a State. And I will say unequivocally to this Committee that if the people of Puerto Rico were welfare hounds, we would have moved to the mainland a long time ago. Those of us that moved in the past did so in search of opportunity, not welfare.
Mr. Chairman, the people of Puerto Rico are industrious, hard working and devoted to family. Those that rely on welfare do so only because the present political status has not provided them with the opportunities they aspire to. Puerto Rico has many competitive advantages and only as a State can the potential of these advantages be maximized. As a State, we can truly become the economic crossroads of the Americas.
Before I close, I would like to urge the Committee not to listen to the siren calls of those who insist on a level playing field between alternative forms of status. The playing field can never be level. Each status alternative is inherently different.
What the advocates of the level playing field want is to confuse the people of Puerto Rico into believing that the benefits of statehood are available under other forms of status. Mr. Chairman, as we all know, that is not the case. There is no substitute for statehood.
The opponents of statehood have used the level playing field concept to confuse our people. To have the benefits of statehood without the responsibilities would not only be unfair to all the other citizens of the Nation but, in some aspects, may well be unconstitutional.
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No matter how many of those benefits Congress would concede them, however, no one could ever provide them with the most important ones of all: full integration into the U.S. economy, stability, permanence, dignity and the political power of statehood.
I urge the Committee not to accept definition changes to status alternatives that could lead to recreating the fiasco of the 1993 plebiscite. I strongly urge Congress to pass H.R. 856.
Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Pietri follows:]
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Mr. KENNEDY. Hector Reichard.
STATEMENT OF HECTOR REICHARD, ESQUIRE, PRESIDENT, PUERTO RICO CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, WASHINGTON, DC
Mr. REICHARD. Thank you.
Mr. Chair, members of the Committee, greetings to each and every one of you; and I really thank you for caring for Puerto Rico. You could be elsewhere, but you are here doing your good work.
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My name is Hector Reichard. I am the President of the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce. Our organization is truly a cross-section of our economy for it groups together 1,600 individual members and, additionally, 60 organizations, which are like an umbrella organization, which brings together the bankers' association, the hospital associations, wholesalers, broadcasters, et cetera.
The presentation I have here for you today, which is a summary you have already in your files, reflects the positions assumed by our assembly of delegates since 1985 through 1996, also ratified by our executive Committee just recently. The Chamber has no selection as to status. We present to you here an economic analysis of what we think is important.
The worst thing that can face us is uncertainty. Certainly we wish to end that.
Our position revolves around two main concerns: first, that the plebiscite process should be fair and well-informed for the people to make an enlightened decision; second, if the Puerto Rican people choose to change the present status, an orderly and well-defined transition has to be clearly stated.
The plebiscite process should be dealt with on its own merits. It should not be mixed with the normal electoral process. I think you had a flavor of what it can be here today.
Before Puerto Ricans are asked to mark their status preference on the plebiscite ballot, it is necessary to clearly spell out the cultural, political and socioeconomic consequence of each alternative. The information transmitted to the people should be based upon accurate and unbiased data.
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We are deeply concerned about the consistency of the data that Federal agencies have produced in the past with respect to the cost and benefits of each status alternative. Therefore, we value the resources of our institution to help in obtaining additional information about the socioeconomic consequences of each status alternative to supplement what has already been produced in order to allow the people to make a really informed decision.
The legislation that your Committee develops should delineate each step and action in the process for participating institutions and, more importantly, the responsibility and role of each participant at each step. Our institution believes that the private sector must have a role and, consequently, a responsibility in this important undertaking. We think our parties should welcome the private sector's contribution in this process. You should further encourage participation of Puerto Rican institutions to complement the contributions from the political parties.
For the people to make an informed decision, the following issues, we believe, must be clearly addressed before the plebiscite:
First, the transition period contemplated for each political status should be very clearly spelled out.
Second, the situation of the present U.S. citizenship of the Puerto Rican people under each status alternative should be addressed.
Third, the Federal tax treatment of U.S. corporations doing business in Puerto Rico under each status formula, including the period of time for which the corresponding tax treatment is guaranteed.
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Fourth, the Federal tax treatment to residents and local businesses in Puerto Rico under each status, as well as during the different stages of the transition period.
Fifth, Puerto Rico's access to the United States commercial and financial markets under each status formula, including its position with respect to present and future trade agreements that the United States engages in with foreign countries.
Sixth, conditions and restrictions to Puerto Rico's access to foreign commercial and financial markets under each formula, as well as a market penetration of foreign goods into our market.
Seventh, adjustments to be made, if any, to Puerto Rico's long-term public debt under each status, as well as constraints, if any, to the issuance of additional public debt during each transition period.
Eighth, amount and term of U.S. transfer of payments to Puerto Rico under each status alternative. Particular attention should be paid to what is going to happen to contributions Puerto Rico makes to earmarked funds, such as social security, Medicare, unemployment and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, among others.
Ninth, the conditions for travel and migration into Puerto Rico by the United States under each status alternative. This is a most crucial thing, since almost all families have close relatives in the United States.
Page 152 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It should become apparent that, for whatever reason, if these basic concerns could not be met, then a condition as to the timing of the plebiscite should be made.
The Chamber of Commerce realizes that some of the key factors that have contributed to our common development are subject to change as circumstances vary over time. We are also aware that the drastic change over a short period of time could prove to be changes that occur at a rate faster than the ability of our economy to adjust. Whatever alternative is democratically chosen by the people of Puerto Rico would probably result in economic adjustments and could entail sacrifices on our part.
Private enterprise is ready to shoulder its responsibility. However, even in times of budgetary constraint, Congress should be sensitive to our needs and economic realities. For example, I think Congress should focus on revised section 30(a), which former Governor Romero-Barceló and Governor Rossello are looking into right now, as a means to strengthen the Puerto Rican economy.
Socioeconomic development can only be achieved through a long-term process. With God's help, with your help and a great deal of work on our part, we are confident that we can achieve our mutual goal of human progress for the people of Puerto Rico, who, lest we forget, are proud citizens of the United States.
Mr. KENNEDY. Thank you.
Page 153 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. Romero-Barceló.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Mr. Pietri, before I ask my questions, I want to congratulate all six of you for your testimony. It has all been excellent testimony, and I think we have cleared a lot of issues that have been raised here today.
I want to ask Mr. Pietri, in your analysis of what statehood would mean to the economy in Puerto Rico, have you looked into what has happened to the per capita income of Puerto Rico during the past couple of decades and comparing it to the per capita income of the States of the Union? Have you looked at that in your studies?
Mr. PIETRI. Yes, Congressman.
We heard earlier this morning testimony comparing Puerto Rico's per capita income as the highest in Latin America, and that has been the kind of comparison that is generally done when Puerto Rico is touted as an economic miracle. They hail it as the highest south of the Rio Grande.
As an American, I hold that the comparison should be to that of the 50 States, not to Latin America. We are part of the United States. We are U.S. citizens. We should compare ourselves to the rest of the Nation. And when you do that, our per capita income presently is less than one-third that of the national average, less than half of the lowest state.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. And that is Mississippi?
Page 154 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PIETRI. Mississippi. Not only that, but that gap has not been reduced since the early 1970's.
For a period of time, Puerto Rico did close the gap, during the 1950's and 1960's, relatively slowly. But since the early 1970's it stopped closing, and it has not closed since. And, actually, in the 1990's, it has begun opening back up.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Do you remember what the per capita income of Puerto Rico is compared to that of the State with the lowest per capita incomeMississippi? Do you remember the percentage?
Mr. PIETRI. It is about 47 or 48 percent. I do not recall precisely at this particular moment, but it is in the 40'shigh 40's.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. For the record also, in 1970 it used to be 52 percent that of Mississippi.
Mr. PIETRI. That is right.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. And now we are one-third of that of the Nation.
Mr. PIETRI. That is right.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. And in 19951996 it was down to 44 percent of that of Mississippi and less than one-third of that of the Nation. So instead of closing, that gap it has widened. Whereas the difference used to be only $1,300 in 1970 between the per capita income of Puerto Rico and that of Mississippi, it is now over $9,000; and the $9,000 is more than half of the whole per capita income of Mississippi.
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Mr. PIETRI. Another key point regarding economic growth is that, basically, for several decades Puerto Rico has been growing at a pace that is similar to that of the rest of the Nation. Sometimes in the period of expansion we outgrow the Nation by a few tenths of a percentage point. In recessions, several of them have been stronger here. We have felt the effect more. Particularly when high interest rates combine with high petroleum prices, the recession is deeper always here in Puerto Rico.
But the problem is that, when we have a third of the national average in per capita income, we just cannot afford to grow at the same pace as the Nation. We have to outpace it. We have to try to achieve a growth rate that is at least twice, possibly three times that of the Nation in order to close the gap.
If we want to close the gap in less than 30 years, we have to grow at almost three times the pace of the rest of the Nation.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. This morning there was also testimony as to what statehood would mean, and they tried to indicate that we would have a loss of jobs. The Federal agencies in Puerto Rico have the same number, approximate proportion of number of employees as they have in the States of the Union; do you know that?
Mr. PIETRI. Absolutely not. The Federal expenditure per capita for procurement contracts, for whatever, all the other different categories, are a fraction in Puerto Rico of what they are in States per capitaany State.
Page 156 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. And the Federal payroll in Puerto Rico, on a per capita basis, is that as high as it is on the mainland?
Mr. PIETRI. Absolutely not. It is a very small percentage as compared to the rest of the States.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. We have very few employees here in health care.
Mr. PIETRI. Hardly any.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. And even in the post office we are undermanned, is that not correct?
Mr. PIETRI. Yes, sir.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. And in a lot of the other agencies we have much less employees on a per capita basis than States with a similar population. So there will be a lot more Federal jobs in Puerto Rico as far as that is concerned.
Mr. PIETRI. Yes. But Federal jobs really would be a minor portion of the jobs created. I think the massive amount of jobs that will be created will come from that certainty, because Puerto Rico has many competitive advantages.
Just a brief list of the competitive advantages: strategic geographic location, a democratic tradition. We are part of the U.S. flag, a dollar-based economy, an infrastructure that, while it may need improvement, is sound. We have world-class communications and transportation. We have a bilingual and bicultural business environment. We have, most important of all, a large, loyal, trainable and highly productive labor force.
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Those are tremendous competitive advantages. But to make the most of them we need the certainty, we need the political power of statehood and its full integration into the national economy.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Why do you need the certainty?
Mr. PIETRI. Because whenever anybody makes an investment, that is the first item to be valued even before the return.
Mr. KENNEDY. Thank you. The only certainty here is that I will no longer be able to serve as chairman unless I limit your time.
Mr. UNDERWOOD. No questions.
Mr. KENNEDY. For my sake, I want to say how much I appreciated all of your testimony and the clarity of the testimony, especially with respect to the fact that currently, under the commonwealth status, Puerto Ricans are disenfranchised from their rights to elect seven more memberssix or seven Members of Congress. And at least with all the decisions that are being made in the Congress, you could carry some real political weight; and the people would understand that in the future, I hope after Puerto Rico chooses statehood, which I expect they will, that the next hearings like this they will be done by a chairperson who has voting rights on the Committee and who will have seniority because they will have been able to have the same seniority rights as I currently have as a member of my State representing Rhode Island and all the other of my colleagues have in the U.S. Congress.
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I have to now turn the gavel back over to Chairman Young, and I thank you all. Buenos dias.
Mr. YOUNG. [Presiding.] I want to thank the panel; and I have some questions that I will submit to you for the record. Because I do not think it is fair to continue when, as I said, we would adjourn at a certain time.
A lot was said today in all this period of time with different witnesses; but on any side of the aisle, those that have presented some ideas and some suggestions and can really help us make our decisions, I deeply appreciate that.
I am deeply interested in this, because I do believe that if we do not act in Congress, Puerto Rico has some serious, serious problems 20 years down the road, and the Congress would have to do things that I do not think would be appropriate. This is the time to act, to give you the right to take whatever direction you want to take. To me, that is the crux of all this hearing process.
I happen to believe that you can go forth and your economy can grow. As you mention, Ivar, the advantages you have are awesome. I know in Alaska, when we went from a territory to a State, we did grow. Regardless of the oil, we did grow. We went further and passed some laws to retain our fishing rights, for instance; and that occurred, and we have become very successful. So it can be done.
Before I excuse you, I want to tell you that these hearings do not take place accidentally. There is an awful lot of work that goes into a hearing.
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We have, of course, Manase Mansur. He has been with us for a long time. Steve Hansen. Chris Kennedy has been through this and helped set up the legwork, along with Cherie Sexton, Jeff Petrich and Marie Howard. These are the people that make this operation work.
And, of course, the Capitol Police and those with us, escorting us to make sure this works, the Puerto Rican police force itself and those that have made it possible.
And to the audience, though it appears sometimes I get a little apprehensive and a little bit less than understanding, I do it because it is a thing I cherish. When I run my Committee I try to give the witnesses as much time as possible to make their testimony and to have the Congressmen to ask questions to gain knowledge.
So I would again thank the people of Puerto Rico and San Juan for their courtesy and kindness. We will go to Mayaguez on Monday and continue this hearing process. And before I finish up, Mr. Miller has to say something, too.
Mr. MILLER. Mr. Chairman, I just want to join you and your remarks in thanking the staff and all those people who helped make this hearing today possible and Carlos for the invitation and to all the panelists and the panelists before us right now for their contribution.
The goal of coming here was to make sure that we would be able to establish a fair and open process to put a conclusion to this long-running debate; and I think that this hearing today has been very, very helpful in that process; and I want to thank you also for bringing the Committee here.
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Mr. YOUNG. Thank you. Again, I want to thank everybody; and this hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 3 p.m., the Committee was adjourned; and the following was submitted for the record:]
DUE TO THE COSTS OF PRINTING, ADDITIONAL TESTIMONY RECEIVED FOR THE RECORD WILL BE KEPT IN COMMITTEE FILES.
Hon. Pedro Rosselló, Governor of Puerto Rico
Hon. Sila M. Calderon, Mayor of the city of San Juan
Hon. Ramón Luis Rivera, Mayor of the city of Bayamon
Hector O'Neill, President, Federation of Municipalities of Puerto Rico
Enrique Vázquez-Quintana, M.D., Party for Free Associated Nation
Arturo J. Guzman, Chairman, I.D.E.A. of Puerto Rico
Dr. Luis Nieves Falcón, Coordinator, and Jan Susler, Attorney at Law
Fermín L. Arraiza Navas and Fermín B. Arraiza Miranda
Juan G. Muriel Figueras
José Garriga Picó
Page 161 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Additional material submitted for the record follows.]
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