Cruz urges Congress to recognize and act on Puerto Rico’s plebiscite results

HARRISBURG, June 14 – State Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Phila., introduced House Resolution 404 urging the U.S. Congress to recognize and act upon the results of the Puerto Rican status plebiscite held on Sunday.

“A majority of the voters rejected the continuation of Puerto Rico’s current unsustainable territorial status. More than 90 percent of the ballots cast were in favor of statehood,” Cruz said. “It’s time for Congress to act, to finally treat the American citizens of Puerto Rico equally.”

Since Puerto Rico became a U.S. territory, Congress has passed statutes establishing a civilian government, extending U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans, allowing the creation of a bill of rights and a constitution for the island. Yet, Puerto Ricans have only one nonvoting member in the U.S. House of Representatives and they cannot vote in presidential elections unless they move to one of the 50 states.

“This is a matter of equal rights. Puerto Ricans are tired of existing as American citizens to whom their citizenship rights are denied. How is it possible that if an American citizen resident of Puerto Rico moves to the continental U.S. he or she will gain rights and vice versa he or she will lose rights? That doesn’t make sense.”

The United States currently has 16 territories outside of the 50 states, of which only five are inhabited: Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Mariana Islands and American Samoa. Of these five inhabited territories, Puerto Rico, which became a territory in 1898 as a result of the Spanish-American War, is the largest, most populated and closest to the United States mainland.

Puerto Rico has held five plebiscites and one constitutional amendment referendum to determine the will of the people regarding the island’s political status since 1967.