So that thing we told you about—the political status games and bills about Puerto Rico running through Congress? On Thursday, Rep. Luis Gutiérrez spoke in Spanish to members of the House of Representatives (and Puerto Ricans) about his bill, H.R 900.
Gutiérrez’s office provide an English translation of his prepared remarks:
Mr. Speaker, I will speak Spanish to the people of Puerto Rico. The translation is at the desk.
I am going to speak Spanish, the language of Puerto Ricans because democracy demands transparency and clarity.
The essence of the debate over Puerto Rico’s future is the difference between assimilation, represented in the legislation proposed by Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez (HR 260) and the legislation I have introduced (HR 900).
I have never excluded statehood. The assimilationists have excluded independence and free association from their proposals.
What my legislation does is simply add balance and corrects a disequilibrium.
From now on, the debate is between the assimilationist leaders and the people, the Puertoricanists. Assimilation is not the only option before the Congress of the United States.
My bill proposes free association and independence as options. This is what the Puertoricanists propose.
What motivates us? The love of Puerto Rico and defending our heritage; believing that we can be self-sufficient; believing that we can determine our own future without masters; believing in ourselves. The Puertoricanists are convinced that we can create jobs in a strong and vibrant economy with people who are innovative, creative and completely capable of determining their own future.
The assimilationist leaders think that we’ll starve to death without the United States.
The Puertoricanists do not arrest students when they lift their voices in defense of democracy. That is what the assimilationist leaders do.
The Puertoricanists believe that first you pay the pensions of working people, while the assimilationists prefer to pay American bondholders on Wall Street.
The Puertoricanists love and protect the land. The assimilationists want to destroy it by constructing pipelines.
The Puertoricanists understand that democracy must flourish. The free expression of the people is sacred. Assimilationist leaders, when they don’t like what they hear from the people, call in the riot squad.
Assimilationist leaders haven’t attacked what my legislation would do, they have attacked its proponents.
Assimilationists want Members of Congress to only hear their version of the future. They are annoyed because this Member has brought before the Congress the other two options, which, in fact, are the options up for a plebiscite vote in Puerto Rico this year. In Puerto Rico, they want one reality and in the Congress they pretend there is another.
No, with my bill we have balance, truth and transparency. This is democracy. In this Puertoricanists believe: debate, discussion, freedom of ideas. Assimilationist leaders throughout history have chased and jailed Puertoricanists, and when they did not jail them, they took them to Cerro Maravilla.
Assimilationists say the Puertoricanists are anti-American. No, the Puertoricanists and anti-colonialists. They want for Puerto Rico the sovereignty enjoyed and celebrated in the United States. Yes, the Puertoricanists want the same thing the Americans have, to live in a free and sovereign nation where we determine our own destiny without masters.
Puertoricanists see the sun and see the energy we can harvest; see the land and the food we can eat.
Puertoricanists are motivated by love of country, love of our heritage and the understanding that we can be great, that we are intelligent and capable of innovation and creativity.
From my infancy in exile in the United States I listened to the song “Preciosa” and came to understand that the tyrant – the dark evil – is American colonialism. So said Rafael Hernandez, the singing conscience of my people
Puertoricanists longingly recall the song “En mi Viejo San Juan (In my Old San Juan)” where it says “…this strange nation,” just as Puerto Ricans in the U.S. say “this is not my land” – when they confront abuse, discrimination and racism. “Puerto Rico is.”
The Puerto Rican is his diaspora, from New York to Chicago, San Juan to Ponce, we are all Puerto Ricans. As our national poet, Juan Antonio Corretjer, wrote: “I would be Puerto Rican even if I were born on the moon.” To which I would add, with a great deal of respect, “I would be Puerto Rican, even if I lived on the moon.”