Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) pushed back on a Supreme Court decision that limits Puerto Ricans’ access to government benefits on Thursday, condemning the decision for advancing the U.S.’s colonialist grip over the territory.
In an 8 to 1 decisionThe Supreme Court ruled Puerto Ricans could do so. not have the constitutional rightAccess the same government disability benefits as those who live on the U.S. mainland. A Puerto Rican resident was sued by the government for $25,000 for receiving Supplemental Security income (SSI) payments after he moved to Puerto Rico. The appeal was denied.
Ocasio-Cortez, who is Puerto Rican, decried the decision. “2022 Imperialist Neo-colony Vibes: when my cousins can be drafted into war by a government they don’t even have a right to vote for and denies them benefits, yet that same government can exploit their land into a tax haven for Crypto billionaires and tax evaders,” she wrote on Twitter.
She continued to deflect comments made by those who suggested that Puerto Rico would be granted statehood. “[B]efore people start trying to explain this away as a status/statehood issue, ask yourself why *any* U.S. citizen is denied the right to vote because of where they live,” she said.
“Even U.S. citizens living ABROAD have the right to vote but U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico cannot. It’s colonialism,” she concluded, adding, “And in the case of D.C., racism.”
As Puerto Rican advocates say pointed outThe Supreme Court ruling on the matter is hypocritical. by President Joe Biden to continue former President Donald Trump’s argument that the territory’s residents shouldn’t receive SSI disability payments. This is despite Biden’s statement on the campaign trail that specifically condemned Trump’s appeal of an earlier decision that Puerto Ricans were eligible for the program.
“[Biden]He could have prevented it and chose to not fulfill his campaign promise. Passing the buck to Congress is not an excuse,” wrote Power 4 Puerto Rico, a group composed of diaspora allies and advocates for Puerto Rican selfdetermination. “What Puerto Rico needs is Admin and Congress to stop imposing, looking away from economic roadblocks like the Jones Act and austerity program.” The Jones ActThe 1917 bill that made Puerto Rico a U.S. territory was the one that created it.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the only dissenter in the Court and the only justice of Puerto Rican descent, wrote in her dissent that the majority opinion “is utterly irrational.”
“Congress’ decision to deny to the U. S. citizens of Puerto Rico a social safety net that it provides to almost all other U.S. citizens is especially cruel given those citizens’ dire need for aid,” she wrote. “Equal treatment of citizens should not be left to the vagaries of the political process.”
OcasioCortez noted that Puerto Rico has been used as a tax haven by wealthy individuals; government officials have taken note. Placed incentivesFor wealthy people who live in the US, it is possible to hide their money in Puerto Rico to avoid taxes. A recent move to restructure the island’s debt — known as the Plan of Adjustment under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) — will come at the cost of citizens and economic stability, and will serve mainly to benefit foreign capitalists, Truthout Report earlier this year.
Some Democrats have supported Puerto Rico’s statehood, but the New York lawmaker supports it. Instead, pushedPuerto Ricans will be able decide their own course for the island. Last March, Ocasio-Cortez introduced a bill that would create a pathway for self-determination, calling for the creation of a “status convention” that would allow Puerto Ricans to decide on whether or not they want to become a state, become independent from the U.S., or otherwise.