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History Made in Puerto Rico Status Referendum! 

Clear Majorities Vote to End Status as Territory, Seek Statehood 

(November 7, 2012) 

American history was made yesterday Tuesday November 6th, when 77 percent of Puerto Rico's eligible voters went to the polls in the U.S. Caribbean territory. In an unequivocal rejection of the island's current political status, 54 percent of Puerto Ricans voted (934,238) to end the island's territorial status while 46 percent voted to keep it. Over 1.7 million voters answered the ballot question.  

The second question on the referendum ballot asked voters to express their preference between the only constitutionally-valid and internationally-recognized alternatives to Puerto Rico’s current unequal territorial status: Statehood, Independence, or Free Association (ELA Soberano).  Free Association is independence with a unilaterally revocable bilateral treaty such as exists between the United States and the Republics of Palau and the Marshall Islands.  The alternatives have been validated by successive Presidential Task Forces on Puerto Rico’s Political Status, the U.S. Department of Justice and the United States Congress.  More than 1.3 million Puerto Rican voters answered the question, at 54 percent representing a clear majority of the island’s registered voters.  Statehood prevailed with 61 percent of votes cast.     

Unquestionable Island-Wide Majorities

The results demonstrate clear and unquestionable majorities in favor of ending the 114-year status as a territory of the United States in favor of equal citizenship and Puerto Rican equality within the union of the United States.  The referendum results show that majorities in every district and municipality throughout Puerto Rico voted to pursue statehood rather than independence and free association.  A small minority of municipalities voted in favor of maintaining the unequal territorial status. The clear rejection of continued territorial status in favor of equality as a full and equal state of the union were much more than simple majorities, dispelling any notion that a close vote would mar the results.  

Comprehensive Voter Education Effort 

During the months leading to the referendum, the island saw unprecedented partisan and non-partisan voter education campaigns urging an end to the territorial status.  Candidates and representatives from the pro-statehood New Progressive Party, Igualdad, Futuro Seguro (Equality – Secure Future), and the Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association engaged in island-wide education activities urged voters to reject the current unequal territorial status in favor of citizen equality and statehood. The New Progressive Party is a hybrid party of Democrats and Republicans united in seeking equality and Statehood for Puerto Rico. ¡Boricua, Ahora Es! (Puerto Rican, The Time is Now!) brought together statehood-, independence-, and free association advocates in urging voters to end the 114-year status as an unequal territory of the United States.   

Petition to Congress for Admission as a State Expected Soon

It is expected that Puerto Rico’s territorial legislature will swiftly certify the results and submit Puerto Rico’s petition for admission to the union as a state to the United States Congress in the immediate future.  The leadership of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party, including outgoing Governor Luis Fortuño, newly reelected Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, and the current Speaker of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives Jenniffer Gonzalez have each made clear their commitment to this course.

While the referendum results and majorities are clear, pro-statehood majorities in the island’s House of Representatives and Senate were not returned for the island’s next legislative session. Pro-statehood Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi was the biggest vote getter island-wide and was reelected to serve an additional four-year term as Puerto Rico’s non-voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. In remarks at a press conference Wednesday, Pierluisi committed to dedicate himself to advancing the expressed will of the Puerto Rican people in the Congress.  

U.S. English--Wrong on Puerto Rico, Wrong on Equality--AGAIN!!!
No Precedent in American History--Language Choice, Use is Established Right of States
(October 11, 2012)

Washington, D.C.--The organization ‘U.S. English’ is wrong on Puerto Rico. They ignore the facts. Puerto Ricans are not inferior citizens and less entitled to equal rights because they speak Spanish more than English. Puerto Rico is officially bilingual and has been since 1902. It was the first United States jurisdiction in the nation’s history to adopt English as an official language. Puerto Ricans speak English when they want to, and are not content to continue to live without their full rights as citizens.  Puerto Rican elections and votes for the past 15 years show this. Puerto Rico deserves equality Read More...


Former San Juan Mayor Hernán Padilla Announces EQUALITY
Effort Dedicated to Puerto Rico Voter Education for November Referendum
(April 17, 2012)

 San Juan, Puerto Rico – Former San Juan Mayor Hernán Padilla today announced the formation of a new organization dedicated to Puerto Rico voter education in advance of the November 6, 2012 referendum on Puerto Rico’s political status, and directed towards supporting the achievement of political and economic equality for the island’s 3.7 million American citizens.

Following a seminar on Statehood for Puerto Rico and the upcoming plebiscite attended by dozens of New Progressive Party candidates for elected office, the former President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors presided over a meeting of pro-statehood professionals during which the attendees agreed to form EQUALITY Read More...

Pro-Territory Party Issues Marching Orders For Election Day Referendum                                      "Vote YES" to keep the territory, leave second question blank                                                                (February 1, 2012)

The Popular Democratic Party (PPD in Spanish) of Puerto Rico, which supports the unequal territorial status, has told its supporters to vote “yes” on the first question of the Election Day-plebiscite and to leave the second question blank. By voting “yes,” the PPD is advocating in favor of the territorial status and against equality for the nearly 4 million Americans on the island. Read More ...


Territorial Legislature Acts to Put Status Question to Puerto Ricans
Governor convenes all parties in search of consensus
(January 1, 2012)

The Puerto Rico Legislative Assembly and Governor Luis G. Fortuño have decided to move forward on a plan for locally sponsored plebiscite on Puerto Rico’s political status. Advocates of political sovereignty, either as a state of the union or independent republic, had sought a non-binding congressional authorization with defined constitutionally valid status options. The Puerto Rico Democracy Act (H.R. 2499) would have done so, but failed to advance in the U.S. Senate following overwhelming passage in the U.S. House of Representative. Read More ...

Obama Task Force Report on Puerto Rico Status Due in October, Delayed, Again
quality Advocates Continue to Hope for Breakthrough
(January 12, 2011)

Washington, D.C.—Equality advocates continue to eagerly await the report of the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status which the White House was expected to release in 2010. Originally anticipated for release in October, the report was first delayed until after the November mid-term congressional elections.  With the elections over, the release of the report was considered imminent. However, the report was not released in December and indications are that the report should not be expected until later this month at the earliest. Read More ...

Senate Confirms Position that Puerto Rico’s Status is Territorial 
Bill authorizing plebiscite fails to advance
(June 1, 2010)

Following passage of the Puerto Rico Democracy Act (H.R. 2499) in the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing in the Capitol on the legislation on May 19, 2010. Testimony was heard from representatives and leadership of the principal political parties in Puerto Rico, the pro-statehood New Progressive Party (PNP in Spanish), the pro-territory Popular Democratic Party (PPD), and the Puerto Rico Independence Party (PIP). Read More ...
Citizen Equality Initiative Introduced During Barbosa Celebration in NYC
The Council participated in a celebration of the life Dr. Jose Celso Barbosa in New York City, July 27 with the Center for Puerto Rico Equality and Advancement (CPREA) and the Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association (PRSSA).  The event, entitled “A Celebration of the Life, Work and Legacy of Dr. Jose Celso Barbosa” took place in Midtown New York City and was hosted by Mr. Jim Montes of Nixon Peabody LLP.  Council Executive Director Justin O’Brien represented the Council at the event and was joined by Jorge Torruella (NYU) of PRSSA.  CPREA President Rafael Rodriguez served as the master of ceremonies for the event. Read More...

U.S. House Resolution Would Place Puerto Rico Statue In U.S. Capitol
By Ashley Hawken
The Administration Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives recently approved a Resolution (H.R. 5493) authorizing the District of Columbia (DC) to install statues of two Washingtonians within the U.S. Capitol Building’s iconic Statuary Hall.  If the measure becomes law, it would overturn the present requirement that only States of the Union may designate statues to represent them in the Hall.  Read More...
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Council Urges Senate Action on Puerto Rico Self-Determination
U.S. Council for Puerto Rico Statehood Chairman Major General Orlando Llenza, USAF (Ret.) called on the Senate to act on The Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2010 (H.R. 2499) and pass the legislation giving the 4 million American citizens in Puerto Rico the right to self-determination in the first-ever congressionally-sanctioned plebiscite on the issue.  In the letter, dated June 29th, General Llenza stated the significance of the legislation, "as it would impartially ensure that Puerto Ricans understand the sense of Congress that Puerto Ricans should, of a right, voice their will and express their positions on self-determination." Read More... (Read the Council's Letter)

Senate Seeks President's Views on Puerto Rico Status Alternatives
The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Ranking Member Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)  formally requested the White House to elaborate on the President's position regarding The Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2010 (H.R. 2499) and constitutionally-viable status alternatives in a letter dated May 27.  The Senators requested the President's Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status clarify the White House position on the issue.   Read More...

Puerto Rico Equality Leaders Celebrate July Fourth Holiday in San Juan
Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuño joined Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi and San Juan Mayor  Jorge Santini on July 4th in San Juan to commemorate the 234th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  The Statehood for Puerto Rico leaders used the occasion to deliver remarks on the issues of Puerto Rico's continued drive for political equality and the inalienable rights of Puerto Ricans to equal United States citizenship.  Read More...

Status Bill Authorizes Island Plebicite on Status Alternatives 
H.R. 2499 authorizes Puerto Rico to conduct an impartial two-part plebiscite providing an equal opportunity to maintain or terminate the current unequal territorial status of the island.  Puerto Ricans would first vote on whether to maintain the current status quo and remain a U.S. Territory under Article IV of the U.S. Constitution or seek a sovereignty-granting alternative.  Read More...

United Nations Recognizes Puerto Rico Right to Self-Determination
The United Nations Committee for Decolonization met Monday June 21, 2010 to discuss the decolonization of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States since 1898 and Puerto Ricans have been United States' citizens since 1917.  Puerto Rico does not have voting representation in the U.S. Congress and Congress retains plenary authority over the island.  The Committee unanimously adopted a resolution supportive of Puerto Rico self-determination. It was the tenth consecutive year that the Committee has approved a resolution in support of Puerto Rico self-determination.  Read More...

Puerto Rico Resident Commisoner Invokes Dignity, Equality in Clarion Call for Puerto Rico Statehood
Resident Commissioner for Puerto Rico in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Hon. Pedro R. Pierluisi issued a clarion call for citizen equality and Statehood for Puerto Rico in the Puerto Rico daily newspaper El Vocero on Friday, May 28, 2010.  The Resident Commissioner is Puerto Rico's non-voting delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Read More...

After House Amendment, Passage, What Next for Puerto Rico's Self-Determination?
With 223 votes in its favor, the United States House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed The Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2010 on April 29. The bill, cosponsored by 182 Representatives, will authorize a two-part plebiscite on the island and is heralded as a substantial step towards ending the 112 years of inequality for the people of Puerto Rico. Authored by Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, the bill proposes the first congressionally-sanctioned plebiscite concerning the island's unequal territorial status.  Read More...

United States Plus One - The Prospect of Puerto Rico as the 51st State
When HR.2499, the Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2010 passed the House 223 - 169, it barely gathered a whimper of press. The prospect of America gaining a new state would normally be newsworthy, yet H.R.2499 missed out. Meanwhile, decade old perceptions of Democratic gerrymandering, and opinions based on the 93 and 98 failed plebiscites re-surfaced. This 78 Minute Audio Documentary speaks with the participants themselves, and uncovers the story of what could become the most debated plebiscite in American history. Click here to hear the documentary

H.R. 2499 Committee Passage
By a vote of 30-8, the Natural Resources Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, overwhelmingly passed legislation (H.R. 2499 - The Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2009) to give congressional sanction to an island plebiscite on Puerto Rico's status for the first time in American history. Read More (July 22, 2009)


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