Friday, January 27, 2017

STATEHOOD NOW ......

by NELSON RODRIGUEZ-LOPEZ Esq.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
January 27, 2017

Puerto Rico became a territory of the United States in 1898, as a result of the Spanish - American War, in other words we were given to the United States as "a botin de guerra " (war booty). The treaty which concluded that conflict, ceded the island, then a Spanish colony, to the United States of America, and tasked Congress with determining the civil rights and political status of its inhabitants; Treaty of Paris, 1898 . 

In the ensuing hundred plus years , the United States and Puerto Rico have forged a unique political relationship, built on the island 's evolution into a constitutional democracy exercising " local " self-rule .
BUT CONGRESS RESERVED FOR ITSELF THE ULTIMATE POWER OVER PUERTO RICO. THE COMMONWEALTH OF PUERTO RICO HAS NEVER HAD HAD SOVEREIGNTY. 
Acting therefore, pursuant to the United States Constitution' s Territorial Clause , Congress initially established a civil government for Puerto Rico possessing significant authority over internal affairs. As a matter of fact, the Organic Act of 1900, commonly known as the Foraker Act, granted Congress the power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and regulations respecting the Territories or other Property belonging to the United States.

The United States' President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, appointed the Governor, the Supreme Court, and the upper house of the legislature. The people of Puerto Rico elected the lower house themselves. Federal statutes generally applied (as they, still do ) in Puerto Rico, but the newly constituted legislature could enact local laws in much the same way as the 45 states of the Union. As you can see, there is not a substantially huge difference with what the Territory of Puerto Rico currently has, even though there is a 116 years difference. 
  • In 1917, Congress granted Puerto Rico additional autonomy. A federal statute was approved in 1917, in addition to giving the Territorial Island 's inhabitants United States citizenship, it replaced the upper house of the legislature (the Senate ) with a popularly elected senate. 
  • In 1947, an amendment to that law, empowered the people of Puerto Rico to elect their own governor, a right never before granted to a United States territory . 
  • In 1950, Congress enabled Puerto Rico to organize the project of constitutional self-governance, known as Public Law 600"recognizing the principle of government by consent ", It authorized the Territory 's citizens to organize a government pursuant to a constitution of their own adoption. 
Describing itself as in the "nature of a compact", the statute submitted its own terms to an up - or down referendum of the Territory of Puerto Rico's voters. According to those terms, the eventual territorial constitution had to provide a republican form of government and include a bill of rights. All else would be hashed out in a constitutional convention.

The US Citizens in the Territory of Puerto Rico would be the first to decide, in another referendum, whether to adopt the convention's proposed charter . .... BUT CONGRESS WOULD CAST THE DISPOSITIVE VOTE: THE CONSTITUTION PUBLIC LAW 600 DECLARED, WOULD BECOME EFFECTIVE ONLY "UPON APPROVAL BY THE CONGRESS ".

The process took two years in the making .The US Citizens of the Territory, first voted to accept Public Law 600, thereby setting the basis for a constitutional convention. Once that political body completed its work, the territory' s voters ratified the draft constitution. Afterwards, Congress using its " supreme " power over the US Territories, took its turn on the draft of the Constitution, proving that this whole process was only a delegation of its own " supreme power " over the Territory of Puerto Rico.

Before giving its' approval , Congress removed a provision recognizing various social welfare rights (including entitlements to food, housing, medical care, and employment ). It added a sentence prohibiting certain Constitutional Amendments , including any that would restore the welfare- rights section. It also inserted language guaranteeing children's freedom to attend private schools.
Congress, through Public Law 600, first authorized Puerto Rico's Constitution process, and then through later legislation, Congress did both, amended the draft charter and gave it the indispensable stamp of APPROVAL. Simply said, Congress conferred the authority For Puerto Rico to create and adopt a Constitution. That makes Congress the original source of power for Puerto Rico as it is for the Federal Government. The Constitution of the US Territory of Puerto Rico, as significant as it is, does not break the chain of command from the US Congress.

Finally the Puerto Rico Constitution became law, in the manner that Congress had specified , under the TERRITORIAL CLAUSE OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

The Constitution of the Territory of Puerto Rico perhaps created a new "political" entity, but not a sovereign entity: the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, which was purposely wrongly translated in Spanish, in Puerto Rico, as "Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico"(Free Associated State of Puerto Rico).

However , it was created under the Territorial Clause of the Constitution of the United States of America and following the constitutional standards delegated by the powers of Congress. "
The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.

Please be advised, that although some in Puerto Rico proclaim it, there is not such a thing as the "Estado Libre Asociado mejorado"(Improved) . That is an "artificially" created political concept based on a misleading constitutional concept. We can't deny that the above-mentioned constitutional developments were of great significance for the island. However, the Supreme Court of the United States of America has recently stated that "behind the US Citizens in Puerto Rico and their Constitution, the ultimate source of power remains in the United States Congress.

From all the studies, bills introduced in the US Congress and in Puerto Rico, it is clear that the only status alternative that provides permanent union through federalism is Statehood , the other real alternative for a status solution is Independence, but it is clear that the people of Puerto Rico have consistently rejected that status formula with less than (3%) three percentage in the last ten popular elections.

"Libre Asociacion" (Free Association) requires full sovereignty first, which is Independence . Once you are an independent state, then you can deal with the concept of free association through the formal agreements of two sovereign states . That is the rule of the game .

THERE IS NO OTHER ! LETS ALL CLAIM STATEHOOD FOR PUERTO RICO NOW ! ESTADIDAD AHORA ! We are tired of the big lies of the same people who have deceived us in the last sixty-five years . STATEHOOD NOW ! ESTADIDAD AHORA !