FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 15, 2021
Demonstration Tells Congress “Respect Puerto Rico’s Statehood Vote”
Pro-Statehood Groups Joined Forces Ahead of Committee Hearing
Washington, D.C. - Today, an ad-hoc coalition of organizations held a demonstration to send Congress the message, “Respect Puerto Rico’s Statehood Vote.” The demonstration, held in front of the U.S. Capitol, takes place one day before the House Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to hold a second legislative hearing on a Puerto Rico statehood bill, H.R. 1522, and another bill by statehood opponents, H.R. 2070. Several members of Congress including Rep. Jenniffer González-Colon, Rep. Darren Soto, Rep. Charlie Crist, and Rep. Val Demings, joined the demonstration to express their support. Also present were several members of Puerto Rico’s first ever elected Shadow Congressional Delegation.
“Last November, in a free and fair election, a majority of voters in Puerto Rico voted ‘Yes’ to the island’s immediate admission as a state of the union,” said George Laws García, the Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Statehood Council (PRSC), one of the organizations that helped organize the demonstration. “Congress simply cannot ignore the will of these voters because it would go directly against America’s democratic norms and values,” he added.
“We’re here today to let Congress know that the only bill that respects the fact that a majority of Puerto Rico’s voters have already self-determined is H.R. 1522, the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act. Members of the House Natural Resources Committee should reject the election denial efforts wrapped in the language of ‘self-determination’ and support the call for full equality, democracy and voting rights for the more than three million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico through statehood,” concluded Laws García.
The demonstration was coordinated by the Puerto Rico Statehood Action Network (PRSAN), a new ad-hoc effort that is working to unite and empower supporters of the Puerto Rico statehood cause on the island and in the states to take collective action, engage in citizen activism and impact Congress. PRSAN member organizations sponsoring this event included Puerto Rico Chose Statehood (Puerto Rico Escogió Estadidad), National Puerto Rican Equality Coalition (NAPREC), Equality Sure Future (Igualdad Futuro Seguro), and the Rights & Equality Coalition (Coalición Pro Derechos e Igualdad).
“Our goal today, is to urge the House Natural Resources Committee, and all Congress, to respect the voice of Puerto Rican voters, who have chosen statehood three times over the past decade,” said Irma Rodríguez, President of Puerto Rico Chose Statehood a grassroots activist group based on the island.
“This last November Puerto Ricans determined their future political status, and they chose equality through statehood,” said Martin E. Rivera, Esq., Executive Director of NAPREC, a Florida based citizen advocacy organization. “Now, to guarantee that the needs of the U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico are never overlooked again like we saw in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Congress must respect the will of voters on the island and provide the means for admission as a state to the Union.”
“Every American should care about statehood for Puerto Rico because our fellow U.S. citizens on the island are being denied equal representation, voting rights and full participation in the federal government that makes the laws that they live under,” said Annabel Guillen, President of Igualdad, a leading statehood advocacy organization on the island. “I urge all Americans to call and write to your members of Congress, and urge them to support full equality and democracy for Puerto Rico through statehood,” she added.
“Puerto Ricans in the 50 states will be that great continental force that will work in their Congressional districts for their brothers and sisters on the island so that we can move to the next level in our national civil rights agenda,” said Cesar Mendez Otero, President of the Rights & Equality Coalition, a coalition of activists seeking to unite Puerto Ricans and allies in the states in support of statehood for Puerto Rico.
Caption: Demonstrators were joined by Rep. Darren Soto, Rep. Jennifer González Colón, Rep. Val Demings, and members of Puerto Rico’s recently elected Shadow Congressional Delegation, to demand that Congress respect Puerto Rico’s statehood vote.
The Puerto Rico Statehood Council is a Washington, D.C. based, non-partisan, 501(c)4 non-profit issue advocacy organization. We are dedicated to advancing the goal of full equality and democracy for the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico through statehood. To learn more please visit our website at: www.PR51st.com.