The Washington Times’ editorial, “Puerto Rican Run”, attempts to portray HR 2499 as a Democratic stunt in order to sway conservative readers to oppose it. In reality, it was the Puerto Rican people that demanded this bill and it is they – not the editors of the Washington Times – that have the most to lose if Congress denies them the ballot. This bill was submitted to Congress by Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner, who was elected to do so by a 53% majority. The process outlined by the bill, however, was not designed in San Juan; it was specifically laid out by the Puerto Rico Task Forces of the Clinton and Bush administrations. After extensive and thorough research and constitutional analysis, Puerto Rico was defined as a territory of the United States under the plenary powers of the U.S. Congress.
A territory, or as it is known in Puerto Rico, a colony, is subject to the whims of Congress by the Territorial Clause of the Constitution (Article Four, Clause 2). If the Democratic Congress really wanted to accelerate Puerto Rico’s admission as a state, it could do so unilaterally and in a matter of days; but this is not what HR 2499 is about. The Puerto Rico Democracy Act merely offers a non-binding vote on the issue. Since when is voting undemocratic?
At some point it seems, the editors decided some majorities are more legitimate than others. Even though an overwhelming majority of Puerto Ricans abhor their current status as a territory, the question of whether or not they are interested in a permanent, non-territorial alternative is downplayed as some kind of electoral sleight of hand. I appreciate the Washington Times’ concern, but we do not feel we are being played in any way. Most of us – over 70% – would just like to get this political status issue over with as soon as possible.
If the editors don’t mind, now that that time has come, I would like to speak for myself.
Eduardo J. Soto