Recently, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Representative Nydia Velázquez took a significant step towards initiating a serious process of self-determination and decolonization that puts the people of Puerto Rico at the helm of decision-making via the proposed (H.R.8113) Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2020. While this legislation is not perfect, it is a step in the right direction in the ongoing historical struggle to end the colonial relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States.
This bill is supported by many Democrats and various organizations, yet it is not supported by the Puerto Rico’s local Democratic Party chapter or the New Progressive Party (PNP), island’s pro-statehood party. The reason is simple. Puerto Rico’s local Democratic Party chapter has become a mouthpiece of the PNP.
That mere fact should concern all Democrats, especially if they began to know more about who is contaminating the party’s local chapter. Take the case of Charlie Rodríguez, an ardent statehooder politician whose son-in-law, Elías Sánchez, was not only the right-hand man of deposed corrupt colonial governor, Ricardo Rosselló, but is linked to various other corruption scandals and scams within the Puerto Rico government.
Rodríguez and Sánchez are two big names in the statehooder underworld of mysterious donors and backroom contracts. These same corrupt statehooders and their powerful donors, in flexing their political muscles, even got Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tom Perez to blindly support statehood in exchange for confirmation votes, showing us all that even Tom has a price.
The pro-statehood PNP has also been involved in countless corruption investigations by the federal government, resulting in FBI arrests of key figures and leader. Does the DNC want to associate itself with such corrupt politicians and illegal activities?
In addition, statehooders have tolerated the use of the “N-word” on the floor of Puerto Rico’s legislature and have consistently attacked the rights of women, the LGBT+ community and other marginalized sectors. Through its control of the local Democratic Party chapter, these statehooders seek to only form, defend, and promote the pro-statehood narrative, while ignoring other non-territorial status options like Independence and Free Association, particularly when free association is the status option with the largest growth margin (from less than 1% in 1998 to over 33% in 2012). In fact, when combined, the sovereignty options of independence and free association garnered 39%. Not too bad for status options that used to be persecuted and criminalized by statehooders and the status quo colonialist party.
Now if the PNP wanted to decolonize Puerto Rico, why not support the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act when the last five plebiscites were meaningless, non-binding, and have led to nothing?
This is why: statehooders oppose this bill and notion of a people-elected status assembly because they would lose control of the process and would not be able to manipulate it like they do with local plebiscites. They can control the local plebiscites, but cannot control a democratically-elected assembly working with Congress.
It is why statehooders have begun a misinformation campaign aimed at not only discrediting and attacking both Velázquez and AOC, but also calling the assembly “undemocratic” without even realizing that the Continental Congress that helped establish the United States was also a real and democratic tool of decolonization.
I’m pretty sure the folks at the DNC would not endorse such undemocratic, immoral, and illegal activities. Again, Democrats, are these the people you want to associate with? Statehooders are a rabid wolf entering the Democratic Party under the sheepish guise of “equality” and the blessing of Tom Perez.
Democrats need to look long and decide if they should be the ones deciding the party’s policy on Puerto Rico decolonization. They should push aside these corrupt statehooders and embrace the historic legacy of many other true Democrats like Rep. Vito Marcantonio (D-NY) in the 1940s and Rep. Ron Dellums (D-CA), who proposed in the 1980s and 1990s various bills calling for Puerto Rico’s decolonization and independence.Today, there are many Democrats, like former Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), who are considered leaders and are outspoken and recognized for their support of Puerto Rico’s decolonization and sovereignty.
While the pro-statehood “equality” and “civil rights” narratives may have fooled a few naïve Americans into supporting statehood, as more Americans learn about the truth behind statehooders and their nefarious dealings, many Americans will surely move to support freedom, sovereignty, and democracy in Puerto Rico. As past plebiscites demonstrate, the majority of Puerto Ricans are keen on defending and striving for nationhood, not statehood.
“Past plebiscites led by the Puerto Rican pro-statehood and pro-colonial parties have failed because they have been organized unilaterally, and as a tool for political gain and self-interest. It is fundamental to have a self-determination process with all recognized decolonization options on equal footing on the same table and with a serious and engaging educational campaign for voters,” Edil Sepúlveda, Co-founder of Boricuas Unidos en la Diáspora, said.
The Puerto Rican Status Problem is a human rights issue, not a civil rights issue, as statehooders claim. Democrats have a unique opportunity to help end over 500 years of undemocratic colonial rule in Puerto Rico. Democrats, liberals and progressives, the time has come to move away from the corrosive influence and control of corrupt statehooders and embrace Puerto Ricans who advocate freedom, sovereignty, democracy, and development.
Will the DNC allow the corrupt statehooder-controlled “chapter of ill repute” in Puerto Rico to tarnish and bring shame on all Democrats or will the DNC clean house?
Javier A. Hernández is the author of “PREXIT: Forging Puerto Rico’s Path to Sovereignty.” He is a Puerto Rican writer, linguist, and small business owner based in New Jersey. He specializes in international relations and security, decolonization issues, nation-building strategies, and diplomacy of small states, and can be followed on Twitter @PRexitBook, Facebook, and at: PRexitBook.com.