July 23, 2009
Hon. Paul C. Broun, M.D.
Dear Cong. Broun,
It was a pleasure seeing you take an active part in yesterday’s markup on HR 2499. Even though we disagree on certain aspects of the issue, it is gratifying to see a lively debate on a matter that has been present to the US citizens of Puerto Rico for 92 years. It is through lively debates that misinformation is corrected by facts, and just decisions may be taken.
Through yesterday’s markup, it became evident that you may have been mislead by inaccurate information. I would like to take this opportunity to respectfully correct some of your statements, and thus alleviate many of the concerns demonstrated in the Committee on Natural Resources.
In one of your statements, you mentioned that the current public opinion was divided between 40% for status quo, 20% for statehood, 20% for independence, and the rest as undecided. This is severely inaccurate. The most recent plebiscite demonstrated a 46% support for statehood, however, that was over 10 years ago. Recent polls have estimated support for statehood raging from 51 to 54%. You can understand why your comment evoked some emotion.
Throughout the hearing, there was great concern that Puerto Rico should apply English as an official language as a requirement for statehood. However, since 1993, English has been an official language in Puerto Rico. Furthermore, the general population speaks and understands the language without compunction. Millions of Puerto Ricans live among the rest of the US population, communicating freely, living normal lives. Thousands others serve in the armed forces with distinction and without qualms concerning language. It is important, nonetheless, to recognize that what binds all Americans in this great Union is not language, but Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
You also questioned the legitimacy of HR 2499 by labeling it as “undemocratic.” However, why should a “simple majority” be considered undemocratic? The entire electoral system of the US is based on that principle. This notwithstanding, the entire history of the US is marked by annexation of territories without the voting consent of the people, little alone a super majority. Both Hawaii and Alaska were annexed into the Union before plebiscites were held. Most other states were annexed through treaties or Congressional legislation – so under your own logic, HR 2499 is much more democratic that the processes adopted in the past.
HR 2499 is exceptionally inclusive – taking into account every single political option present in Puerto Rico. In determining the fairness of any political process inside the US, one always looks to the will of the people. The overwhelming majority of the people in Puerto Rico wish to see a definite change in the present status – HR 2499 affords them this right
I am confident that once you are fully informed of the facts surrounding this issue, your opinion of HR 2499 will change. The Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association and I invite you to visit Puerto Rico, so you may meet your fellow US citizens and better appreciate our situation. My organization is also more than willing to continue supplying facts supported by evidence regarding this issue.
Once again, thank you for your interest and involvement. I hope it continues, and when the facts are established, that you may join us in our effort to improve democracy at home.
Raul R. Vidal
Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association