House Passes Bill to Allow Puerto Ricans to Vote on Statehood or Independence

Ocasio-Cortez stated the vote to let Puerto Rico resolve on statehood, independence, or in any other case was a “watershed second.”

The Home handed a long-awaited invoice final week that may permit residents of Puerto Rico to vote on the destiny of the U.S. territory, whether or not that be statehood, independence, or in any other case — a transfer that advocates say is essential to starting to proper the harms of colonization which have lengthy plagued the island.

The Puerto Rico Standing Act passed on a bipartisan basis by a 233 to 191 vote on Thursday, with 16 Republicans becoming a member of all Democrats in voting “sure.” The invoice would require a vote to be held on whether or not Puerto Ricans need the island to turn into a U.S. state, a sovereign authorities in free affiliation with the U.S. or totally impartial. Persevering with the island’s present standing as a colony isn’t an choice.

The plebiscite would be binding; the invoice requires the federal authorities to honor the outcomes of the vote and be certain that it’s carried out.

“Whereas Puerto Rico isn’t the United State’s solely colony, it’s its oldest. As we speak, for the primary time in our nation’s historical past, the U.S. will acknowledge its position as a colonizing drive, and Puerto Rico’s standing as an prolonged colony,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) on the floor in assist of the invoice.

Ocasio-Cortez acknowledged the invoice’s shortcomings, together with its lack of reparations or provisions to handle the island’s debt-restructuring plan, often called the Puerto Rico Oversight, Administration, and Financial Stability Act (PROMESA). Nonetheless, she stated that she was “assured” that these points might be addressed in due time with the passage of the invoice, and that the invoice — the results of months of negotiations between lawmakers and Puerto Rican advocates — was a breakthrough for the island.

“Decolonization is greater than a vote. It doesn’t occur simply with a vote. It’s a social, political, cultural, financial and psychological course of that extends far past the ground of this Home,” continued Ocasio-Cortez, who launched a model of the invoice final yr and who has been one of many invoice’s prime advocates. “That being stated, the positive factors which can be made listed below are a watershed second.”

Although the invoice handed on a bipartisan foundation within the Home, it probably doesn’t have the assist from Republicans to cross the 60-vote threshold within the Senate.

Puerto Rico has been a U.S. colony since 1898, when the U.S. seized the island after 4 centuries of Spanish rule. Colonization has had deep penalties for Puerto Rico, and the island is at present present process an financial disaster that has value Puerto Ricans over $1 billion and resulted in elevated privatization and the implementation of austerity measures on the island.

In previous years, some lawmakers have advocated for statehood for the island, which might grant residents the correct to take part in federal elections and entry to federal packages like sure incapacity advantages.

The island has held plebiscites earlier than that appeared to point out that Puerto Ricans are in favor of statehood, however these votes have been criticized by advocates for independence, who’ve held protests in recent times over the shortage of choices apart from statehood or continued colony standing.

Independence advocates say that Puerto Ricans are continually topic to the whims of U.S. politicians. Occasions like Hurricane Maria in 2017, which continues to have devastating impacts on the island and its residents, are a present of the island’s dire want for self-governance.

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