Thursday, October 25, 2007


By: Phillip Arroyo

As expected, the Puerto Rico Democracy Act was approved unanimously with an amendment by the House Committee on Natural Resources on October 23rd, 2007. The amendment inserted into the piece of legislation states that in the event of the Puerto Rican people deciding to finish with its current territorial status, a second vote will be held in Puerto Rico to decipher whether a referendum is held in where the people would vote directly among non territorial options or if a Constitutional Assembly on Status would be formed to delegate Puerto Rico’s political destiny into the hands of the island’s local politicians, instead of through a direct vote from each and every registered voter on the island. Said amendment has seemed to satisfy the local Popular Democratic Party which supports the continuation of the Status Quo, which leaves many to believe that the amendment definitely represents the political “consensus” that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has demanded.

Nonetheless, the future luck of the Puerto Rico Political Status Bill, HR 900, adopted by the Committee on Natural Resources of the House of Representatives seems to now depend on Speaker of the House , Nancy Pelosi.
In the middle of last week, Pelosi met with democratic leaders of Congress –including the three Puerto Rican members of Congress - to notify them that if a Bill of “consensus” was not materialized she would not facilitate a vote on HR 900 to be taken on the floor of the House, according to various legislative resources. The Speaker’s office has avoided, for the moment, to precise if the amendments made to HR 900 on Tuesday within the Committee of Natural Resources has managed to forge that consensus. Pelosi’s only statement regarding this issue was through her spokesperson , made on Monday, October 22nd, 2007, on the eve of the Committee markup.

Pelosi expressed through her spokesperson , Drew Hammill, that a Bill of “consensus” would have to be made in order to proceed with the legislative process regarding said measure.

But, congresswoman Nydia Velázquez –considered one of Pelosi’s main allies– as well as Luis Gutiérrez have ruled out in the last hours that the amendment inserted into the legislation regarding the Constitutional Assembly of Status as an additional mechanism, represents the “consensus” Pelosi requested. “ Last week’s meeting "was very intense", one of the participants said, indicating as an example the anger of Velázquez with the Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Nick Rahall (Virginia Western).

After the meeting, Rahall and Puerto Rican congressman José Serrano -main author of the original HR 900- agreed to seek the integration of the Constitutional Assembly to the Substitutive Measure that was discussed on October 23rd, 2007.

The fact of the matter is that after watching how the local Popular Democratic Party (PDP) leaders were celebrating the inclusion of their amendment to HR 900 that includes their Status resolving mechanism, there should be no reason for them to now not support HR 900 and urge Speaker Pelosi to permit the Puerto Rico Democracy Act to be brought to the House floor for a final vote. It is important to note that a vast majority of House Democrats and a significant number of House Republicans who in the past were against any type of self determination process for Puerto Rico now support the Puerto Rico Democracy Act.

Therefore, bringing HR 900 to the House floor for a vote is the only logical and right course to take. It is important for all of us to immediately contact our Representatives and urge them to support HR 900 and to let Pelosi know that the time has come to let the Puerto Rican people decide once and for all their political fate. For years, Congress has utilized the evasive slogan, “Let the Puerto Rican people decide” when questioned of Congress’s responsibility to solve Puerto Rico’s century old political dilemma . Well, the time has come for Congress to LET the people of Puerto Rico decide. Let’s solve this issue once and for all, the good old fashioned democratic way. BRING HR 900 DOWN FOR A VOTE!!!!

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