U.S. House passes HR2499 - Puerto Rico Democracy Act

April 30th, 2010 - 2:31 pm ICT by BNO News  

WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) – The U.S. House voted Thursday to allow Puerto Ricans to decide their own political future and relationship with the United States.

The bill will bring America’s promise of self-determination to the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico for the first time in 112 years, as their ultimate status has been a long-running unresolved issue, which has consistently been a complicating factor in determining many federal policies for the island.

“For the 112 years since Puerto Rico joined the United States as a territory, the question of our ultimate political status with our country has been a lingering question,” Luis Fortuno, Governor of Puerto Rico, said before the vote. “The Puerto Rico Democracy Act would ask the people of Puerto Rico what they want the territory’s political status to be through a fair, neutral and democratic process sponsored by Congress.”

As an unincorporated territory, the four million U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico cannot vote for President, have no representation in the U.S. Senate and are represented in the U.S. House by one non-voting Resident Commissioner, Fortuno noted.

H.R. 2499 will conduct a survey in which voters will be able to articulate if they wish to maintain or change the island’s current political status. If a majority of voters want a change, a further survey would be held to ask their preference among the other three constitutionally valid options: independence, national sovereignty in association with the United States, and statehood.

“A core premise of the bill is that Congress will be better able to decide what action, if any, is appropriate on the issue once it knows if Puerto Ricans want the current status, or one of the possible alternatives. I am hopeful that the U.S. House will approve this legislation and help bring true self-determination to the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico,” Fortuno added.

Puerto Rico has been a U.S. territory for 112 years, and its residents have been U.S. citizens since 1917. With nearly 4 million residents in population, Puerto Rico is larger than Oregon and slightly smaller than Kentucky.

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