There are four historical events that greatly affect everyday life of residents in Puerto Rico. These four most important historical events were;
The discovery of Puerto Rico on November 19, 1493, during Christopher Columbus second voyage to the New World, brought to the island the rich culture of Spain, our "Mother Land". They also brought trade and business methods, legal and banking systems and controlled the government activities for over four decades.
For over four hundred years the Spaniards brought to our island a treasure of culture; language, music, literature, food, manners, law and architecture. In short, Spain initially influenced most of our everyday life.
The second event that greatly influenced Puerto Rico was the arrival of the American troops on July 25, 1898, and the eventual signing of the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898. The granting of status as a territory of the United States brought us another rich culture in addition to improved methods in the scientific areas, mainly agriculture and manufacturing. We now have the world's top military and economic power behind us. We now enjoy and are part of two great cultures.
On March 2, 1917 under the presidency of Woodrow Wilson the new organic law, the Jones Act was approved. This law gave Puerto Rico an increased amount of autonomy, similar in function to that of any of the states of the union. The Jones act granted American citizenship to people born in Puerto Rico.
In addition the Jones act gave residents of Puerto Rico a Bill of Rights. This Bill of Rights included among others the right to due process of law when a citizen's life, liberty or property are violated, the right to "habeas corpus", the prohibition of the approval of ex post facto laws, the just compensation for expropriations, the right to bail, the right to be treated innocent until proven guilty, right to freedom of the press and expression and many other of the provisions under the U. S. Constitution. Also the Act created the island's Senate, and renamed the House of Representatives. The Act gave form and shape to our government converting the territory to work more independently with more powers delegated to the people. In reality the granting of American citizenship and most all of the guarantees of the American Constitution gave residents of Puerto Rico rights and liberties similar to those enjoyed by people living in any of the other states of the union.
The fourth event of significance was the institution of our Constitution and the Commonwealth (ELA) status on July 25, 1952. The Constitution and the Commonwealth status improved the bonding and relations between the United States and Puerto Rico. This new status gave the island more autonomy in the internal affairs of our government although federal law 600 of July 3, 1950, which authorizes the Constitution, left unchanged and in force, all articles that control and regulate the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States. For this reason the relationship with Puerto Rico continues to be subject and under the jurisdiction of the Territorial Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Existing under the jurisdiction of the Territorial Clause of the Constitution means that our relationship is not permanent. Our relationship can be changed. This includes our Constitution, our relationships with the United States and even our citizenship. This means that while we enjoy our rights and freedom the same way any other American in any other state of the union does, we can continue to enjoy these freedoms as long as the Federal Government does not change the rules. While morally and even politically it may be difficult to change these rules, the U.S. Congress has the complete and absolute power to alter all laws, rules and regulations that govern and control our relationship.
Life goes on in Puerto Rico enjoying all the freedom and liberties enjoyed throughout this great country of ours. We now take our freedom for granted. Our office workers, our farmer, our nurse, our executive, all enjoy life the same way a person may enjoy life in Topeka, Kansas or Cleveland, Ohio. One will not feel any differently with our rights and freedoms in Puerto Rico as you may feel anywhere else in the Nation.
Of course, our culture is different. So is the culture in Topeka Kansas different from the culture in Miami, Florida, and so is the culture different in Cleveland, Ohio from the culture in Sacramento California.
Don Jose in Aibonito drinking his afternoon coffee feels as Puerto Rican and American as he would feel living in Glen Ellen, Illinois; the same as Chuck would feel "from Illinois" and American drinking his 'Shanty" on the beach in Punta Las Marias.
The fact that this beautiful life we enjoy is not permanent, and the fact that our existing form of government is not desired by almost everyone, make it necessary to find a new better status to launch Puerto Rico's development in the new millennium. Our existing Commonwealth formula is not even favored by its creator, the Popular Democratic Party. The existing formula "as is" was not included in the 1993 referendum. Only a wish list of what the Commonwealth should be was included by the party. Unbelievably, even for the plebiscite scheduled for December 13, 1998 the party decided not to adopt the Commonwealth definition and adopt Column #5, titled "None of the Above".
We must settle our status dilemma once and for all. Our present status does not work. We cannot continue with the great waste of time and talent in our government where decisions are purely based in your preference of a status. We cannot sell a telephone company based on which is your status preference. We cannot solve our water problems according to what your status preference is. We have to decide our ultimate permanent status at last. We must be more effective. We have to position Puerto Rico for the future.
What changes if any can happen to residents of Puerto Rico through the process of self-determination? That of course, would depend of what happens in the process and what formula the people ultimately choose. As far as we are concerned we would support any status formula that preserves and/or improves our relationship with the United States.
The existing Commonwealth status, as defined by its founder Don Luis MuŅoz Marin, by Don Jaime Benitez and many others, the Commonwealth status as described in the Constitution of Puerto Rico fully and unquestionably support the strong relationships with the United States and American citizenship. Our Constitution states, "we consider determining factor in our lives the Citizenship of the United States" and further states "the loyalty to the postulates of the Federal Constitution; the co-existence in Puerto Rico of the two greatest cultures of the American hemisphere..."
We support the Commonwealth status for its relationships with the United States and our existing American citizenship. We do believe that under the Territorial Clause of the Constitution the United States has "plenary powers" over our island and that these may be changed at any time. We believe that under the Commonwealth status our citizenship and the relationships with the United States are not permanent. We would consider any improvement that is feasible, but we do not believe in wasting time and confusing the electorate with impossible suggestions that would violate the Constitution and suggestions that are not allowable by law to any of the other states in the union. We must present our people the TRUTH.
We would support suggestions that would more permanently guarantee our citizenship and sovereignty of the United States under Commonwealth, but prefer another formula that would guarantee permanent union under the Constitution.
In the meantime, we would prefer a Commonwealth status over independence or Associated Republic. Under Commonwealth at least sovereignty and U.S. citizenship is maintained, even if on a temporary basis.
Extensive research has been done into the area of American Citizenship under independence. Under independence American sovereignty is lost. The opinions are conclusive that American citizenship is not possible collectively under a separate sovereignty. For this reason we must definitely and completely reject independence for Puerto Rico.
Under any name, an Associated Republic or Bilateral Pact, the status is the same. The sovereignty of the United States would be lost. Puerto Rico would exist as an independent territory. The only difference being that there would be a treaty or "agreement" to grant some favors, as for example unrestricted travel between Puerto Rico and the mainland, common currency, the payment of rent for some military bases, and whatever both sides agree to. Under the Associated Republic American citizenship is not allowed, and at least in the best of cases subject to negotiation, not guaranteed to all.
Under the Associated Republic, United States sovereignty would be lost. The attachment to the United States would be through a treaty- a treaty that could be altered, modified or eliminated by either Puerto Rico or at congress full will leaving only a sole independent territory.
We definitely and completely reject the status of Associated Republic, the Bilateral Pact or any similar formula under any other name.
Our research, as well as research done by numerous organizations, agencies and experts all conclude that United States citizenship for residents in Puerto Rico can only be guaranteed permanent if Puerto Rico was allowed as a state of the United States. Equally, the relationships between Puerto Rico and the United States, and United States sovereignty can only be permanent under Statehood.
For this reason we fully support the statehood movement in making
Puerto Rico a state of the American Nation, with permanent full first
class citizenship and permanent sovereignty.
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