Monday in San Juan, Ricardo Rosselló, Puerto Rico’s new governor, said in his inaugural speech that the island’s economic crisis is directly linked to the “collapse of the colony” and as a result, he would begin his own formal process to make the United States territory the 51st state of the Union.
“The United States cannot pretend to be a model of democracy before the world,” Rosselló said in Spanish, “while it discriminates against 3.5 million of its own citizens in Puerto Rico.”
The new governor made reference to a 2012 non-binding status plebiscite that rejected the island’s current territorial status and chose statehood.
“There is no way to overcome the current crisis that affects Puerto Rico by maintaining the colonial condition,” Rosselló said. “And because of that, the time to act has arrived and to defend the dignity and the right to equality of Puerto Ricans as citizens of the United States of America.”
Rosselló also said that he would fly to Washington, D.C. and personally submit a bill to Congress to formally accept Puerto Rico into the Union. In addition, he also said that he would begin a process to send five representatives and two senators to the nation’s capital, essentially forcing the federal government’s hand. This is a similar strategy to the Tennessee Plan of 1796.
Rosselló’s remarks about statehood begin around the 37-minute mark of this video.
It is unclear exactly how Rosselló’s statehood push will play out in Washington, D.C. these days and during the time that a Fiscal Control Board is running the island’s finances. However, the latest platform from the 2016 Republican National Convention included this language, according to Puerto Rico’s Republican Party:
We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state. We further recognize the historic significance of the 2012 local referendum in which a 54% majority voted to end Puerto Rico’s current status as a U.S. territory, and 61% chose statehood over options for sovereign nationhood. We support the federally sponsored political status referendum authorized and funded by an Act of Congress in 2014 to ascertain the aspirations of the people of Puerto Rico. If the 2012 local vote for statehood is ratified, Congress should approve an enabling act with terms for Puerto Rico’s future admission as the Fifty-First State of the Union.