Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Puerto Rico Democracy Act: Will There be Change?

The Puerto Rico Democracy Act, H.R. 2499, is expected to hit the floor of Congress on April 29th. I’m sure we will all find out more about it tomorrow, but I did a little research today and found some interesting information. I’ve turned off the political pundit boob tube for the day, and am dangerously surfing alone.

Presently the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, like Guam; the Northern Mariana Islands; and the U.S. Virgin Islands, is a self-governing unincorporated organized territory of the U.S. and has been since 1952. The heritage of the people there is Boricua or Borincano (you know, if Italian instead of Spanish, they would be Calabrese or Sicilian) and the island itself is affectionately referred to by the locals as "La Isla del Encanto," meaning “The Island of Enchantment.” I’ve been there and it is beautiful. OK, so it was just a fast ladies room stop at the San Juan Airport enroute to St. Thomas. I got to see some of it from the prop plane that took us to the other islands. I won’t get into the betting and Olympic Cock Fights – no, I wasn’t there.

If H.R. 2499 passes, all eligible voters of Puerto Rico will be allowed to vote on one or two important issues regarding the island’s future association with the U.S. These plebiscites (i.e. ballot questions or referendums) are as follows:

1. “Should Puerto Rico maintain its present political status? Yes or No
2. If “No,” please select from among three options:
     a. Independence (complete break with the U.S.).
     b. Associated Sovereignty (The Island would no longer be subject to the Territorial Clause of the U.S. Constitution).
     c. Statehood (The Island would become the 51st U.S. State).

There has not been a lot of media attention paid to H.R. 2499, primarily because most of them believe that the people living in Puerto Rico do not want to become the 51st U.S. State, even though it would give them the right to 6 US congressmen, 2 senators, and 8 presidential electoral votes. Plus, Statehood has been voted down already three or four times. So, to them, its business as usual.

Will it be Día de la Independencia de Estados Unidos? (Independence Day)

I believe that this time is different, simply because the Bill has been pushed by Resident Commissioner Pedro R. Pierluisi Urrutia. I’m always the independent thinker and figure there will be only two outcomes: the people want out - they want their independence to become their own country, or they want full Statehood and citizenship status. I don’t know what Puerto Rico’s financial situation is these days, but 50 years is a long time to be taking guff from the slugs in Congress, without full status.

This is what happened the last two times the issue was addressed:

While we are on the subject of voting, did you know that there are still six countries on our planet that do not allow women to vote?

1. United Arab Emirates
2. Brunei
3. Bhutan
4. Lebanon (partial restriction, based on education)
5. Saudi Arabia
6. Vatican City

I think its time for another "burn the burqa" demonstration, yes?

Bless me Father 'cause I have sinned:

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