Puerto Rican Advocacy Coalition Organizations Condemn Soto Statehood Bill

Mar 30, 2019
10:48 AM

In response to the Thursday news that Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL) was leading the introduction of a Puerto Rico Admission Act that called for the U.S. island-colony to be admitted as a state of the Union, two coalitions of Puerto Rican advocacy groups have called on Soto to remove the bill from consideration.

On Friday, the National Puerto Rican Agenda issued the following statement about the Soto bill:

The NPRA describes itself as  “a nonpartisan alliance of stateside organizations, elected and community leaders, and volunteers seeking to address Puerto Rico’s economic crisis and promote Puerto Rican political and civic participation.”

On Thursday, the Diáspora en Resistencia coalition issued the following statement:

Puerto Rican Organizations in the Diaspora, in Puerto Rico and their Allies Call for Representative Darren Soto to Withdraw his Pro-Statehood Bill from Congress

Orlando, FL — On Thursday, March 28th, community organizations focused on Puerto Rico, are calling on Representative Darren Soto to withdraw his bill in favor of Statehood for Puerto Rico because the Puerto Rican people have not been asked what their stance is on this issue. During the last plebiscite, only twenty-three percent (23%) of the Puerto Rican population in the archipelago participated. The protests against the last plebiscite were rampant. As a result, it is disingenuous to say that Puerto Ricans are in favor of statehood for their country. Puerto Rican voices cannot continue to be ignored and the Puerto Rican diaspora with powers at the Congressional level need to go back to the drawing board and listen to what the Puerto Rican people want and then execute the mandate in full force.

“After over 120 years of colonialism of the United States in Puerto Rico, this proposal intends to have Congress decide what our people must accept. Decolonization can only be born from the exercise of self-determination of the people of Puerto Rico. The bill that should be proposed in Congress is one that accepts the will of the people of Puerto Rico”, says Justo Méndez Arámburu, General Coordinator of Vamos Puerto Rico.

“Politically, Puerto Rico has a sincere need to get out of the yoke of colonialism that has lived for years and must be in a democratic way not imposed. The priority is to understand the need of the Puerto Rican to be treated with dignity and not by imposition”, mentions Maruxa Cardenas from Our Revolution P.R.

“Puerto Ricans as a community have worked long and hard to clear divisions and work in unison to listen and execute what our compatriots on the archipelago want. This measure opens up old wounds and will make the people in Puerto Rico feel like we are not listening”, says María J. Torres-López from Diáspora en Resistencia.

“All the voices of Puerto Rico need to be heard if we consider ourselves a democracy. The few should not determine the island’s status”, finalizes Raquel Inarú from Respect and Justice for Puerto Rico.

Representative Darren Soto, as well as other Puerto Ricans in Congress, need to be the voice of the Puerto Rican community in their districts, and with the understanding that their districts are affected by what transpires in Puerto Rico, we know they will create legislation that will directly or indirectly affect Puerto Rico. For this reason, they must keep abreast of what the community in Puerto Rico wants and act from that perspective when writing this type of legislation; otherwise, their work will be deemed invalid and obsolete to fix the problems our community face here and in Puerto Rico.

The community wants to remind our Congress-people that at the moment the U.S. Congress is still not approving NAP fund and disaster relief have been painfully slow to distribute. So much in fact that there is a call for an investigation on this issue. By entering this bill now, while other issues take precedence is not only irresponsible, it is inhumane as it will distract and divert from the important conversations that will be the catalyst of important approvals for the Puerto Rican community.

Organizations co-signing this press release are: Diáspora en Resistencia, Organize Florida, Boricuas Unidos en la Diáspora – BUDPR, VAMOS Puerto Rico, @De otro Lado, Dignidad ¡ni junta de control, ni austeridad!, Movimiento Independentista Nacional Hostosiano, Misión Boricua, The New Florida Majority, Central Florida Jobs with Justice, Dream Defenders, The Hedge Clippers, Center for Popular Democracy, Puerto Rico Me Llama, Respect & Justice For Puerto Rico, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Our Revolution Puerto Rico, Faith in Florida, @NYC Coalition, New York Boricua Resistance, Florida Student Power Network, @Nicole Torres Bruno, Lisa Marie Zayas-Cañizares and others.

On Friday, Soto spoke with Latino Rebels Radio about the bill and why he felt it was the right time to promote it.