Starting today, the PRSSA team will be posting our updates on the PRSSA Blog, at statehoodpr.org/blog, so please check this new location for news about the PRSSA.
When you don’t have the votes, spin, spin,spin…
November 8, 2010
As we’ve all heard, the Republican Party has assured itself an unprecedented victory in this year’s Midterm Elections. According to the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) in a recently published article, this Republican victory signifies a loss for the statehood cause because Congress has supposedly lost most of the pro-self determination Congressmen. (Ola Republicana barre a congresistas que apoyaron la estadidad http://ppdpr.net/blog/?n=8) This claim, however, is misleading.
Deceptive tactics are the norm with the PDP. One example is the fact that the PDP affiliates itself with the Democratic Party in PR, only to encourage the Tea Party and the English-Only movement to oppose benefits for PR while in Washington, DC. The PDP builds up this opposition and then comes back to PR to accuse them of a racism they themselves foment. Another example of their misinformation, is the article in question.
The PDP article, published 2 days after the Midterm elections, claims that the results brushed most of the support that bills like the Puerto Rico Democracy Act enjoyed. However, the PDP article’s conclusions and allegations are almost entirely false and misleading. Normally, the PDP would not be worried about the facts and simply lie their way into forming an argument, but the public knows better and through these facts, exposes them.
The first claim the PDP makes is that the pro-statehood movement has lost Alan Grayson and Ron Klein from the Resources Committee. The fact is that neither of these congressmen belonged to that committee, and
furthermore, all but four of our friends in the resources committee are still in Congress. A little bit more research would have made this obvious.
A second claim is made that many of these congressmen lost due to their support for HR2499. Claiming this fact only uncovers, at best, the PDP’s ignorance, and, at worst, the PDP’s willingness to lie to the public. However, there is a far more misleading argument in the PDP’s article – the numbering of congressmen that will not be rejoining the next congress. The PDP will have you think that this signifies a net loss of supporters for the self-determination campaign. A little research and some political common sense show otherwise.
The article lists 31 Congressmen that either retired or were defeated on or before November 2, and it claims that this has taken away the possibility of passing a self-determination bill. First of all, HR2499 enjoyed around 182 co-sponsors, and it was passed in the House of Representatives with 223 votes. If you take away 31 Congressmen from this list, you wouldn’t have enough votes to pass any legislation, but here’s what the PDP article doesn’t tell you: this list is misleading because most of these congressmen have been replaced by people who DO support Puerto Rico’s self-determination. Some in this list didn’t even vote for HR2499 as the PDP claims, congressmen like Neil Abercrombie, John Shadegg, Eric Massa, Ron Klein, Artur Davis, Robert Wexler, Alan B. Mollohan and Zach Wamp So that leaves 23 other congressmen in this list, of which 20 were replaced by people that also support it, like:
- Lincoln Diaz-Balart, replaced by Mario Diaz-Balart (Mario just moved seats)
- Mario Diaz-Balart’s seat, replaced by David Rivera
- Ciro D. Rodriguez, replaced by Quico Canseco
- Kendrick Meek, replaced by Frederica Wilson
- Michael Arcuri, replaced by Richard Hanna
- 6. Brian Baird, replaced by Jaime Herrera
- Jim Costa, replaced by Andy Vidak
- Michael Castle, replaced by John Carney
- Kathleen A. Dahlkemper, replaced by Mike Kelley
- Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, replaced by Kristi Noem
- Frank Jr. Kratovil, replaced by Andy Harris
- Patrick Kennedy, replaced by David Cicilline
- Suzanne M. Kosmas, replaced by Sandra Adams
- Betsy Markey, replaced by Cory Gardner
- Adam H. Putnam, replaced by Dennis Ross
- Carol Shea-Porter, replaced by Frank Guinta
- Gene Taylor, replaced by Steven Palazzo
- Dina Titus, replaced by Joe Heck
- John T. Salazar, replaced by Scott Tipton
- John M. Jr Spratt, replaced by Mick Mulvaney
In addition, the article doesn’t mention those incoming congressmen that are supportive of PR self-determination that took down congressmen that weren’t. Like for example:
- Tim Griffin, replacing Vic Snyder
- Raul Labrador, replacing Walt Minnick
- Chip Cravaack, replacing James Oberstar
- Ben Quayle, replacing John Shadegg – The article assumes Shadegg voted for HR2499 when in fact he didn’t.
- Steve Southerland, replacing Allen Boyd
So, if we replaced 20 of 23 Congressmen, and gained 5, that gives us a net GAIN of 2 Congressmen. This means that if there was to be a vote on self-determination, we would have 225 votes – enough to pass any bill. A far cry from the claim the PDP makes in its over simplified and poorly researched article.
And that’s without mentioning those Republicans and Democrats that were in favor of HR 2499 that are now heading towards leadership positions, congressmen like: Eric Cantor, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Steny Hoyer and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.
These facts are simple and accessible. The PDP knows this; they just choose not to divulge it. Why? Because the facts will tell you that the new Congress would support PR self-determination. Because the facts will tell you that we have gained support in Congress. And because the PDP will never let the facts get in the way of a good lie.
Raúl R. Vidal is the Co-Chairman of the Young Republicans Federation of Puerto Rico.
The Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association contributed to this article by making all the necessary calls to the different campaigns and congressional offices to determine the congressional candidates’ position on Puerto Rico Self-Determination.
President Eduardo Soto appointed Ana María Matías, currently a PRSSA operative in Georgetown University in Washington, DC, as National Scheduler. Matías will oversee the National Board’s events in Puerto Rico and the mainland, as well as arrange guest speaker appearances and event programs.
The Georgetown University sophomore was the mind behind Governor Luis Fortuño’s successful lecture: “The Presence of Puerto Rico in U.S. Politics”, delivered last year at that school’s Lohrfink Auditorium and sponsored by the Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association and other Georgetown groups.
“Ana María is very valuable to PRSSA and its mission of making room for the statehood debate in college campuses across the United States,” said Soto. “I am proud to see her become the newest member of my cabinet, with which our organization will overcome the challenges ahead and grow even larger and stronger.”
PRSSA is a not-for-profit student organization with chapters across the U.S. dedicated to enabling academic debate on the self-determination of Puerto Rico, spurring the political participation of Puerto Rican youth, and organizing student advocacy in support of self-determination and statehood.
Por José A. Delgado/ email@example.com
Washington – Grupos estadistas anunciaron ayer, martes, en Nueva York una campaña informativa que persigue alertar a los estadounidenses sobre la subordinación política a que se enfrenta Puerto Rico como consecuencia del actual status de Estado Libre Asociado.
“Puerto Rico no puede continuar con la actual ambigüedad, pero tampoco puede dependerse del Congreso”, dijo Rafael Rodríguez, presidente del “Center for Puerto Rico Equality & Advancement”.
El eje central de la campaña será la venta de una camiseta con una estrella, la imagen del prócer estadista José Celso Barbosa y, en inglés, la palabra igualdad.
Pero, las organizaciones que impulsan la campaña -que incluyen a la “Puerto Rico Statehood Student Associations” y el “United States Council for Puerto Rico Statehood”- aseguraron que esta vez no será una mera venta de camisetas.
Cada persona que compre la camiseta -por Internet- formará parte de una base de datos. “Con la camiseta podremos argumentar que tenemos seguidores que buscan la igualdad para Puerto Rico”, indicó el portavoz de los grupos estadistas.
“Será una campaña en reclamo de derechos civiles”, indicó Rodríguez, al señalar que los fondos que se obtengan de la campaña irán a sus propias organizaciones sin fines de lucro, para financiar el trabajo a favor de la estadidad.
Rodríguez sostuvo que los grupos estadistas reconocen el trabajo desarrollado por el gobierno de Puerto Rico a favor del proyecto 2499 sobre el futuro político de la Isla que fue aprobado en el pleno de la Cámara de Representantes. Pero, también que en el Senado es posible que la legislación y no avance. “Hay que buscar un camino diferente”, sostuvo, al señalar que le ha faltado voluntad al Congreso.
Las organizaciones estadistas confían en que una venta masiva de camisetas en este país provoque que el público estadounidense haga preguntas sobre el “mensaje de igualdad” y se informe sobre por qué Puerto Rico debería ser el estado 51 de Estados Unidos.
PRSSA President Eduardo Soto has appointed three new individuals for the positions of Executive Director, Communications Director and Political Director of the Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association, Inc. (PRSSA).
Effective immediately, Fernando Sepúlveda will serve as Executive Director. Sepúlveda, a medicine student at the University of Puerto Rico – Medical Sciences Campus has served in the PRSSA as Puerto Rico State Director, and as President of the PRSSA UPR Medical Sciences Campus Chapter.
Gerardo Cruz, an accounting and finance student at the University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez Campus will now serve as the Communications Director. Cruz has been an active member of the PRSSA, participating in the lobbying efforts in favor of HR 2499, the Puerto Rico Democracy Act.
Roberto González, also joins the Cabinet, as Political Director for the association. González is a founding member of the PRSSA, and served as the Puerto Rico State Director of the organization during 2008. He is a student from the University of the Sacred Heart and has been actively involved in the New Progressive Party.
The new team will begin their functions immediately joining the National Board in our efforts to promote statehood for Puerto Rico.
Por El Nuevo Día
WASHINGTON – Eduardo Soto ha sido elegido nuevo presidente de la Asociación de Estudiantes Universitarios Pro Estadidad, uno de los grupos que ha estado activo en Washington en defensa del proyecto 2499 de la Cámara de Representantes de Estados Unidos en torno al futuro político de Puerto Rico.
Como vicepresidente seguirá en sus funciones William José Vélez, indicó Soto, quien sustituye en el puesto a Raúl Vidal. Antes de su elección, Soto era el director ejecutivo de la organización.
La Asociación también anunció que Joceline Negrón, estudiante de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, será la secretaria general. Mientras que Mikhail Blakovitch, del Recinto Universitario de Mayagüez, ocupará el puesto de tesorero.
Este artículo, Nueva directiva en la Asociación de Estudiantes Universitarios Pro Estadidad, fue originalmente publicado en El Nuevo Día.
Dear PRSSA members,
The President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status held hearings in DC this past Tuesday, May 25th. They sought the audience’s feedback on a range of issues from economic development to Puerto Rico’s political future. The Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association was in attendance and will submit its own testimony, but we want you to be heard. Send us a brief essay on how Puerto Rico’s status affects you as a PRSSA member and student, and we’ll submit two (2) of the best statements as testimony to the White House Task Force.
Send your essay to firstname.lastname@example.org on any of these topics:
- Economic Development
- Puerto Rico’s Political Future
- Community Services
- Safety & Security
We hope to hear from you soon so that others may hear from you too!
Eduardo J. Soto
May 14, 2010
Mr. Raul Vidal
1435 Chapin St #304
Washington, DC 20009
As your term as President of the Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association nears its end, I want to thank you and your team for successfully organizing and executing advocacy campaigns that have brought Puerto Rico much closer to statehood.
Indeed, the recent approval by the House of Representatives of the Puerto Rico Democracy Act highlights PRSSA’s effective lobbying efforts. Together with Eduardo Soto, William Vélez and the many talented members of PRSSA, you excelled at defending the virtues of the bill and advocating for its passage. I am certain that the support for this bill the three of you expressed before both local and national news, as well as your informative website on the topic were crucial in securing the overwhelming support it garnered.
In addition to all the work in favor of legislative action, your presence in Washington, DC during these historic times has been vital to our efforts and for Puerto Rico. I encourage the PRSSA to motivate and educate future generations on the importance of having young leaders advocating for our Island at the Capitol.
For PRSSA’s effort and leadership in Washington and across the nation, I extend my sincere congratulations. I am certainly not alone in hoping this tradition of hard work and service continues, for it is in the best interest of democracy that conscientious advocacy by students be strengthened.
Thank you for your dedication. I wish you luck in the years to come and look forward to hearing great things from both you and PRSSA in the near future.
Luis G. Fortuño
On April 29, 2010, 223 US Representatives stood up for Democracy. They voted their conscience on a bill that will forever stay in the hearts and minds of 4 million US citizens residing in Puerto Rico, as well as their following generations. This victory is the result of a year of steadfast leadership, activism, partnership, and committed vision. Our elected leaders, especially our Governor, Luis G. Fortuño, and our Resident Commissioner, Pedro Pierluisi, have led the way towards this unique point in our history as a people. Following their steps, the Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association took the arduous and difficult task of taking the message of equality to our capital, Washington, DC. In its beginning, PRSSA’s lobbyist efforts amounted to no more than two students and the power of righteous conviction. Immediately, even before any bill had been presented, PRSSA’s efforts in DC took to the intimidating halls of Congress. As we met with congressmen, their staff, and other members of the Federal Government, we soon realized the inherent value that the PRSSA had within the Statehood cause. I remember the first meeting we had regarding the subject. I knew all the facts regarding the issue, but how do we sell it? The Congressman was Ben Lujan from New Mexico. He was Hispanic, he had been to Puerto Rico, and was a good friend of Bill Richardson (a friend of our cause). To my surprise, he wondered why 20% of Puerto Ricans believed in independence. I was shocked. I explained to him that that was not the case, less than 3% believed in that option, and that the overwhelming majority of Puerto Ricans believe in a definite change and that that’s what HR2499 offers. On April 29, 2010, Congressman Ben Lujan voted for HR2499. It has been a long time since a pro-statehood organization was active in the capital, much less one that advocated for equality and self-determination. In the past year, PRSSA filled a void and fulfilled its duty as an agent of equality.
Student activism is one of the most versatile forms of political outreach. We are young, eager, idealistic and tireless – all excellent qualities in taking on Congress. For well over a year our efforts increased, and as our DC team grew, our friends in Congress grew as well. With the announcing of the Puerto Rico Democracy Act, PRSSA took the battle to the internet – the creation of http://www.hr2499.com aided in the dissemination of the truth regarding the Puerto Rico status. The website became essential in combating the lies and deceit that the enemies of equality spread. Especially after the assault of the erratic and incoherent Glenn Beck who showed utter disregard for the will of 4 million U.S. citizens, segregating us to a second class citizenship. The quick and easy to access mechanism of the website allowed our now almost daily meetings in Congress to go smoothly – and without a doubt, helped recruit dozens of Congressmen to our cause. As our issue grew, and our presence felt, we began creating allies in both the public and private sector. They became essential to our advocacy, among them we counted on professional lobbyists from some of the most prestigious firms in the U.S., contributing their time and effort to the cause on a pro-bono basis. Through them we were able to take our efforts to the general media, getting published in the National Review and the National Journal – two main publications in the U.S. with a large circulation among the decision makers of the country.
All the while, as we kept expanding in the media, countering the lies published by the opposition, our meetings in Congress became incredibly successful. By the time the bill had reached the Resources Committee, PRSSA added even more Congressmen to the co-sponsorship list. During Committee hearings, our Executive Director, Eduardo Soto, and I, submitted a written testimony on behalf of the organization – forever securing PRSSA’s role as a champion of self-determination for the people of Puerto Rico. In part, we stated that “no U.S. citizen should have to leave his or her home to have the same rights as other citizens.” These words inspired Congressmen Patrick Kennedy and Don Young to personally thank us for our efforts. These were the first of many recognitions we would receive for our tireless efforts. The Committee hearings had the astounding result of clarifying many of the issues and concerns that other congressmen had with the issue of Puerto Rican self-determination. As a result, a flood of co-sponsors filed in for HR2499. By then, PRSSA had visited every office in Congress to inform them of the importance of this bill. All 435 offices.
Then, the announcement was made on April 22, 2010 that HR2499 would be voted on in exactly one week. Merely one day before, the PRSSA DC staff had the pleasure of discussing the matter with the Governor and the Resident Commissioner in an event hosted by the Mayor of San Juan. Our message to our leaders was clear: we are ready.
Immediately, all our efforts in the past year paid off. PRSSA took over the internet publishing on blogs, news sites, facebook, and the blogosphere. The membership called Congressional offices and expressed their support of HR2499. Our friends in Congress secured us meetings with dozens of congressmen to strategize on our moves and secure their votes. By Tuesday April 27, PRSSA mobilized over 40 members to walk the halls of Congress. In its event, PRSSA goes to Congress, we, as an organization, were able to visit over 250 offices on a single day to advocate for HR2499. As Puerto Ricans gathered on Wednesday, April 28, PRSSA counted with the largest delegation as our membership flew from different chapters across the country. Like the day before, we visited hundreds of offices, gathering support and challenging the opposition. On one occasion, our Executive Director personally walked a congressman’s legislative director to a briefing hosted by the Resident Commissioner, the Governor, and Mr. Jeffrey Farrow. We faced friends and enemies in Congress, but in the end, we visited every office to make sure that they were aware of the vote on the coming day. When the day of the vote came, we were the first to arrive to Congress and went straight to debate our biggest opponent: Congressman Jason Chaffetz. We met with him personally to make him aware of the will of the people of Puerto Rico. Even he was impressed at our showing by stating “I admire your resolve.” Up until the very last moment, our membership called and visited Congressional offices to gather their support. When the vote came, we won by 54 votes. 223 brave Representatives cast their vote in support of our rights – and PRSSA was there, holding hands with other Puerto Ricans awaiting for Congressman Jose Serrano’s gavel to announce the closing of this session of the House of Representatives. Not even the guards could quell our raucous outburst at seeing the Governor enter the floor and hug our Resident Commissioner. Not even our First Lady, Luce Vela, could contain herself at the sight of Pedro Pierluisi jumping in emotion giving us the thumbs up.
This is just a small summary of the accounts that have taken place in the past year regarding our efforts in Washington, DC. Needless to say, there are many accounts that go unmentioned. Arguments, jokes, conversations, dinners, arrests, fights, crying and laughter.It has been a long road, but an exciting one – and at the sight of victory in the House, both Governor Fortuño and Resident Commissioner Pierluisi came up to me and with a hug thanked us for our work, but reminded me of one very important fact: this is not over. PRSSA has marked history, but its role is not done. It is our duty and our destiny to take this effort to the U.S. Senate. So let us gather now with the same passion and sense of duty that we undertook with the House of Representatives, and start claiming our rights in the Senate. It is up to us to fulfill our island’s destiny. Will you stand up and fight for it? We will.
Raul R. Vidal is the President of the Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association, a non-profit student advocacy group that promotes self-determinancy for Puerto Rico, and the political participation of pro-statehood youth.
Vista pública será el 19 de mayo
WASHINGTON, DC- “La Comisión de Energía y Recursos Naturales del Senado de Estados Unidos acaba de anunciar que estará realizando una vista pública sobre el H.R. 2499 el próximo 19 de mayo de 2010, a sólo días de la aprobación contundente de este proyecto en la Cámara de Representantes.
Me complace saber que el Senado está listo para atender este asunto tan fundamental para Puerto Rico. La fuerza de la aprobación del H.R. 2499 en la Cámara de Representantes es nuestra mejor carta de presentación.
Agradezco al presidente de la comisión, el senador Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico) la prontitud en atender este asunto. El tiempo apremia y nuestra causa es justa. Estaremos trabajando en el Senado con la misma intensidad que trabajamos en la Cámara”, dijo el Comisionado Residente, Pedro Pierluisi.
La vista pública tendrá lugar el 19 e mayo de 2010 en el Salón SD-366, en el Dirksen Senate Building.