At the age of 16 I also remembered watching on T.V. as HR 856 The Puerto Rico Self Determination Act passed by one vote back in 1998 and how it later died in the Senate thanks to the likes of ultra conservative anti hispanic Republican senators like Trent Lott. And yet, here I was on my way to our nation's capital to join our Governor , our Resident Commisioner and dozens of volunteers to finally help push H.R. 2499's approval and put an end to our island's unfair and undemocratic colonial political status.
I was glad that God had given me the opportunity to travel to Washington, not only to witness history, but to help garner democratic votes as a part of our Resident Commisioner Pedro Pierluisi's Democratic Party lobbying team. I left my wife and daughter behind, yet I knew this journey would be for a noble cause. It would be to assure that my beautiful 1 year old daughter will one day grow up in Puerto Rico enjoying the same rights, resposibilities and priviledges as the rest of our brothers and sisters on the mainland. I owed it not only to her, but to every single child of our great Puerto Rico.
I was in awe at how these two hispanic members of congress were actually going against not only the will of the people of Puerto Rico, but against what our beloved Democratic Party stands for! They would argue that H.R. 2499 was a statehood bill geared and designed to create an artifical support for statehood when in reality this bill was a civil rights piece of legislation. Obviously, they were terribly mistaken, and they knew it. It was truly shameful to watch them join forces with some of the most conservative ,radical and anti hispanic republicans in the house against letting the people of Puerto Rico to decide their final political status.
So it should be no surprise to anyone that Velazquez betrayed our democratic party's principles by opposing H.R. 2499, because she was never a democrat! She was and still is a "Popular" or "Populete", a term used to describe members of the local colonialist party on the island.
Finally, as the day dwindled and our visits were done, all that was left was expectation and hope. H.R. 2499 would finally be brought to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives the very next day. Years of advocacy and efforts were now behind us and all of Puerto Rico awaited the outcome. That night, I remember being exhausted and yet I could not sleep; I kept staring at the ceiling, obviously due to the expectation, but also anxious, and hoping that the will of the Puerto Rican people be respected. The Puerto Rican people had waited too long for the opportunity to put an end to almost 112 years of colonialism and it would be a disgrace if due to political maneauvering and trickery by the opposition, their voices be silenced.
The next day, I remember waking up to a beautiful sunny morning in DC. I took a cab to the capitol and during the ride I remember being quite nervous. The driver asked me where I was from and after I answered, he indicated his awareness on the Puerto Rico Political Status issue. I told him there was a Bill to be voted on that very same day to possibly begin a process to end colonialism on the island. As I paid the fare, the driver bid me farewell and wished me goodluck, not before expressing enthusiastically, "Equality for Puerto Rico!" I winked at him and said, "You're damn right!"