Posted by: Raul Vidal | December 2, 2009

PRSSA: HR2499 MEMORANDUM

MEMORANDO

La Directiva Nacional 2009-2010 inició sus esfuerzos respecto al proyecto H.R. 2499 (en adelante “PR Democracy Act”) a mediados de mayo de 2009.[1] PRSSA conocía del proyecto desde la redacción de su primer borrador, y anticipaba la participación de la membresía en general en cuanto el proyecto se hiciera público. La página Web www.hr2499.com se creó pocos días después de que el proyecto fuera presentado ante la Cámara de Representantes federal el 19 de mayo. A continuación, un desglose de los esfuerzos subsiguientes:

«  La página Web www.hr2499.com se creó con miras a brindar apoyo de base al PR Democracy Act. Las herramientas en la página proveyeron a la membresía de PRSSA la información necesaria para involucrarse en la formación de opinión pública respecto al proyecto. En más de una ocasión, noticias sobre el proyecto iban de la mano con lo que PRSSA dictaba en su página y en sus comunicados de prensa. Esta presencia mediática por parte de un proyecto y una organización estudiantil es sin precedentes.

«  Los esfuerzos de PRSSA en la Web fueron paralelos a lo que ya era una presencia establecida y oficial por parte de su entonces Director Ejecutivo y Presidente-electo, Raúl Vidal, en los esfuerzos de cabildeo del PR Democracy Act. Los protagonistas de los esfuerzos a nivel federal, en particular el Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA), ya colaboraban activamente con PRSSA. La creación de www.hr2499.com expandió la presencia de PRSSA y la cementó al convertirse en la referencia primordial de oficinas de congresistas interesadas en la medida.

«  PRSSA tuvo un rol significativo en la suma de varios co-auspiciadores al PR Democracy Act durante el verano. En esta campaña preliminar a la vista en el Comité de Recursos Naturales se sumaron 113 co-auspiciadores a la medida.[2]

«  PRSSA transmitió en vivo las vistas del Comité de Recursos Naturales respecto a la medida, donde testificaron líderes partidistas de Puerto Rico. También se transmitió el “mark-up” de la medida, donde se aprobaron enmiendas favorables a la medida y se rechazaron enmiendas dirigidas a derrotar la medida.

«  Luego de su aprobación en el Comité de Recursos Naturales[3], PRSSA continuó colaborando con el cabildeo de la medida hasta alcanzar los 173 co-auspiciadores.

«  Probablemente el protagonismo más marcado de la Organización en la suma de co-auspiciadores fue durante lo que llamamos el “final push” antes de ser referido al pleno de la Cámara. En este periodo, PRSSA estuvo profundamente involucrado en la suma de los últimos 12 congresistas en abiertamente apoyar el proyecto.

«  El proyecto actualmente cuenta con 185 co-auspiciadores[4] y espera votación en el pleno en el Union Calendar. La expectativa es que se aprobará cómodamente en las primeras semanas de diciembre.

«  En mayo, PRSSA ya había iniciado esfuerzos para asegurar la aprobación de la medida en el Senado federal.[5] Estos esfuerzos continúan y constituyen la principal misión de PRSSA en la capital.

Cordialmente,

Raúl R. Vidal                                             Eduardo J. Soto                                        William-José Vélez

Presidente                                               Director Ejecutivo                               Vicepresidente

ANEJOS—

PUERTO RICO STATEHOOD

STUDENTS ASSOCIATION

www.statehoodpr.org

COMUNICADO

Lunes, 25 de mayo de 2009

Contacto: Eduardo J. Soto (787) 536-3014

PÁGINA WEB PONE APOYO A H.R. 2499 AL

ALCANCE DE TODOS

SAN JUAN, PR: El Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association, Inc. (PRSSA) creó la página web www.hr2499.com para orientar sobre el proyecto HR 2499 del comisionado residente Pedro Pierluisi que provee para una serie de plebiscitos avalados por el Congreso que podrían definir finalmente el status jurídico de preferencia del pueblo de Puerto Rico. La página provee información sobre el proyecto (incluyendo el texto de éste), medios para contactar a congresistas y solicitar su apoyo a la medida, los informes del Task Force y Equipo Inter-agencial de la Casa Blanca respecto al status de Puerto Rico, entre otras funciones.

La página es una manera de abrir los esfuerzos de PRSSA al público en general. Entre la información provista por la página, se encuentran los 93 (sujeto a cambios) co-auspiciadores con los que cuenta la medida hasta ahora. La información de contacto de posibles co-auspiciadores está disponible para que el público en general pueda llamar y solicitar apoyo. Enlaces externos a páginas observadoras del proceso legislativo federal le proveen a los usuarios orientación respecto a los pasos que la medida irá tomando antes y después del voto en el pleno de la Cámara.

“Es hora de llevar la campaña en el Congreso a manos del pueblo” expresó José Cabrera, Presidente de PRSSA, al anunciar la creación de la página web. “No queremos que sobre espacio para duda de que la mayoría abrumadora de los puertorriqueños desean expresarse democráticamente en torno a su preferencia de status.”

“No podemos permitir que intereses partidistas obstruyan esta consulta” añadió Raúl Vidal, Director Ejecutivo y Presidente-electo. “Nadie debería temer a un plebiscito justo y balanceado como el propuesto por el Comisionado Residente.”

PRSSA es una organización sin fines de lucro dedicada a la instrucción en el tema de status y la promoción de participación estudiantil en el proceso democrático.

# # #

[Memorando, 6 de junio de 2009]

Dear Member,

It fills me with immense honor to be the 6th President of this, our Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association.  Thank you for your vote of confidence and continued support. This involvement is crucial to making our desired goal of statehood inevitable.

Since its inception, the PRSSA has only victories to account for. Some of our most recent achievements constitute the inscription of thousands of citizens to vote, regularly and absentee. It is the PRSSA that enriches over 45 campuses across the US with the message of statehood. It is this, your organization that has been requested to lead the grass-roots push to see the fair and impartial HR 2499 bill passed in our US Congress, which will finally assure the right of the people to vote on its future status.

In all our achievements, we have been humble, but none of our achievements are humble. This is demonstrated by our continued success in achieving the vital steps toward our ultimate equality in the form of statehood. The people of Puerto Rico have noticed us; our present government respects and honors us; our foes fear us; and in Congress, we are lauded for our representation of the facts – so much so, that the PRSSA has been essential in gathering the now 113 votes that HR2499 now has.

I leave you now with our accomplishments, but with the certainty that you will now act on behalf of your own future and ideal. As a member of the PRSSA I ask you to be more involved in our struggle. Start by looking at our new website: www.hr2499.com, the most respected website on the Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2009; it is the most widely read by staffers and members of Congress. Through www.hr2499.com you will inform yourself of Resident Commissioner Pierluisi’s bill to solve our centennial status problem, and it allows you to ACT. It gives you the tools to call several key Congressmen, or to email them. Send it to others, so they may too take part in our struggle.

I thank you for all your achievements, but more than that, for what you are about to achieve.

Humbly yours,

Raul R. Vidal

President PRSSA

PUERTO RICO STATEHOOD STUDENTS ASSOCIATION

www.statehoodpr.org

www.hr2499.com

(787) 649-5111

July 23, 2009

Hon. Paul C. Broun, M.D.

U.S. Congressman

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.

Best regards,

Raul R. Vidal

President

Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association

PUERTO RICO STATEHOOD

STUDENTS ASSOCIATION

http://www.statehoodpr.org

COMUNICADO DE PRENSA

Viernes, 15 de mayo de 2009

Contacto: Eduardo J. Soto (787) 536-3014

SENADOR LIEBERMAN PROMOVERÍA LIBRE

DETERMINACIÓN DE PUERTO RICO

WASHINGTON, DC: El Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association, Inc. convocó una reunión entre el gobernador Luis Fortuño, el comisionado residente Pedro Pierluisi y el senador por el estado de Connecticut Joseph Lieberman, en la que se discutió el apoyo del veterano senador del caucus demócrata al Puerto Rico Democracy Act 2009 que será radicado por Pierluisi prontamente.

En una cena junto al Director Ejecutivo de PRSSA, Raúl Vidal, el senador Lieberman expresó su apoyo a la medida y a la libre determinación mediante referéndum. La medida debe aprobarse en la Cámara de Representantes para luego ser auspiciada en el Senado, motivo por el cual el comisionado residente y el Gobernador solicitaron ayuda de PRSSA en su esfuerzo para crear alianzas en la cámara alta.

“Es de suma importancia que la medida tenga apoyo en ambas cámaras para agilizar su aprobación” – expresó Raúl Vidal, Director Ejecutivo de PRSSA y su representante en la reunión. “Contar con el apoyo del senador Lieberman es evidencia de que la condición colonial en Puerto Rico llegará a su fin en este Congreso o el próximo.”

El proyecto que radicará Pierluisi provee para un plebiscito federal dividido en fases que inicia al consultar al pueblo de Puerto Rico si apoya la permanencia de la actual condición territorial o sí desea optar por una opción no-territorial, en cuyo caso se efectuaría un segundo plebiscito con opciones no-territoriales.

PRSSA es una organización sin fines de lucro dedicada a la instrucción en el tema de status y la

promoción de participación estudiantil en el proceso democrático.

# # #

RAÚL VIDAL
PRESIDENT
BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES
UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
HEARING ON H.R. 2499, THE “PUERTO RICO DEMOCRACY ACT OF 2009

JUNE 24, 2009

Chairman Rahall and esteemed members of Congress,

My name is Raúl Vidal, President of the Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association (“PRSSA”), a non-profit student group dedicated to researching and informing youth on Puerto Rico’s status issue, as well as improving student involvement in the democratic process.

For over 110 years, Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States.  For 92 of those years, we have been U.S. Citizens, honorably fighting in every war in defense of our nation’s democracy. Also, as citizens, we have contributed to the arts, sciences, sports, economy, and education. In these contributions, no demographic has been more important than students. Likewise, on the issue of status, no demographic has more to win, or lose, than the students. They, we, are the future public officials, entrepreneurs, and innovators entrusted with the protection and progress of our country.

In the face of such a complex issue, the PRSSA was created in 1979 as a forum for students in Puerto Rico and the continental U.S. to learn about Puerto Rico’s political situation, its territorial condition, relevant jurisprudence, and the framework for admission to the U.S. as a State. The PRSSA also serves as an engine of change; a tool in the search for student involvement in matters that will affect their lives. Across 45 campuses nationwide, students have come together in support of Puerto Rico’s right to self-determination and statehood. We have supported The Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2009 since its introduction in the House, rallying support for Puerto Rico’s self-determination. Support for H.R. 2499 has echoed from San Juan to the District of Columbia, and across the 50 states. PRSSA’s members have campaigned for this bill across the blogosphere, on our website: www.hr2499.com, through the halls and offices on Capitol Hill, to campuses across the U.S., and in the homes of the residents of Puerto Rico.

The uncertainty of our complex political status continues to have an immense impact on the people of Puerto Rico, and a bloc that bears the full brunt of that negative impact is the student bloc. Under our present political status, the US citizens of Puerto Rico do not enjoy the same federal benefits that the rest of the citizenry enjoys inside the Union. Such inequality causes deep economic restraints for Puerto Rico, causing a brain drain in which many students leave the island in search of equal treatment. It is mostly students that serve in the ranks of our armed forces, but the US citizens of Puerto Rico do not have the right to a seat on the table when determining the fate of these soldiers, or that of our country. Our student veterans also have trouble receiving equal benefits than those in the continental U.S. in pursuing their college degree.

No U.S.citizen should have to leave his or her home inside the US to have the same rights as all other citizens.

Even if students choose to leave Puerto Rico, and seek a home elsewhere, they carry with them some of the impediments of our political status. While every other American student is taught that one day they may become President of the United States, the American students born in Puerto Rico can never aspire to such a position.

The Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2009 has the power and foresight to resolve the uncertainties that Puerto Rican students face as to their present, and more importantly, their future. Cong. Pierluisi’s bill would effectively give us students the right to vote on our own future. I venture to say that this empowerment is no less different from when a student chooses to study a career to determine his or her future service to our society. We want to determine our future roles as citizens of this great country. The Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2009 grants the youth a chance to voice said preference.

This bill includes every single alternative to Puerto Rico’s political status that is neither territorial nor transitory. The options provided in this bill are representative of every party platform in Puerto Rico, always in accordance with U.S. public policy and in agreement with the Democratic and Republican party platforms regarding this issue.

Opponents of this bill have argued that there is no consensus. They base their findings on the refusal from the leadership of two political parties. However, we believe that beyond consensus, there is an outcry from the people of Puerto Rico – who will ultimately be the beneficiaries of the empowerment of this bill. The most recent poll on whether the people wished to change their political status reflected that an overwhelming majority (74%) of the population wished to see that change. This is real consensus.

Nothing is fairer, or more just, than a democratic process by which the people choose their own fate. This is what we, as students, have always been taught – and like all other members of Puerto Rico’s society, we are eager to take part in that process to put an end to our uncertainty.

Consonant with the policy of Republicans, Democrats[6], and the democratic wish of the 4 million US citizens of Puerto Rico, we express support for this fair and impartial bill to address a self-determination protocol for Puerto Rico through first-ever federally sanctioned referenda. We hope you will agree that consulting the People of Puerto Rico is fair as a first step in this process, and invite you to join us in improving democracy at home.

Thank you,

Raúl Vidal

President

Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association, Inc.

Eduardo Soto

Executive Director

Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association Inc.


[1] Ver Anejo 1: Comunicado de prensa PRSSA, 25 de mayo de 2009

[2] Ver Anejo 2: Memorando interno del 6 de junio de 2009

[3] En vistas respecto al PR Democracy Act, PRSSA también hizo noticia con su invitación al Cong. Broun, un detractor a la medida influenciado por cabilderos populares, a visitar la Isla y conocer la realidad del debate de status. Ver Anejo 3: Reacción a expresiones del Rep. Broun de Georgia.

[4] El Library of Congress refleja sólo 181 dada la suma a “última hora” de varios congresistas. Estos votos se reflejarán en la mayoría que aprobará el proyecto en el pleno.

[5] Ver Anejo 4, Comunicado Senador Lieberman y H.R. 2499.

[6] Text of Republican and Democratic Party platforms regarding Puerto Rico’s status definition are available at www.hr2499.com.


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