The restart of the debate on the status is approaching and with it the demand for concrete answers. It is no wonder, because the only way to resolve this issue – in addition to achieving a procedural consensus mechanism – is to obtain clear answers from a Congress that does not disclose what it is willing to offer and under what conditions.
When that happens, all options will collide with your reality.
The choice of independence will be the first to fall off the board of options. This will occur due to the scant support it maintains among the electorate and because as soon as the consequences of each formula are studied in depth, an issue that the independence leadership constantly evades will be exposed: the prospective loss of American citizenship by birth under the republic from Puerto Rico.
The reason is obvious. In a country where federal customs and immigration laws that place the territorial extension of Puerto Rico under federal jurisdiction will not apply, it is not possible to obtain American citizenship by birth. It is common sense; no one receives citizenship by birth unless they are born on American soil.
Given this reality, it will be interesting to know the reaction of the electorate when it learns that under independence, the only way to transfer American citizenship to their descendants is through blood; an extensive, complex and expensive legal process that applies to American citizens residing in foreign countries, and which is far removed from the simple procedure that is now carried out in Puerto Rico of registering the newborn.
If you still don’t believe me, I invite you to read page 166 of the PIP government program (Patria Nueva) where, in addition to proposing a curious transition period towards the republic that indefinitely preserves all benefits of the ELA, the friends of the PIP speak of a “dual citizenship” that, when reading its text carefully, you will notice that it only refers to the retention of the American citizenship of those who hold it, but they keep silent – conveniently – about people who are born after the arrival of the Republic.
Now you will understand why Senator Juan Dalmau buried his pro-independence speech seven feet underground in the last electoral campaign, arguing that a vote for him was not a vote to advance the republic. Of course it was not, because if it had been, the 13% it obtained disintegrates.
But let’s talk about statehood; that alternative that the annexationist leadership is demanding with 52% of the votes, while demanding the same treatment of Alaska and Hawaii when they became states.
It is here that the friends of the PNP shoot themselves in the foot, because the chronology of events on the emergence of these states, far from helping them, weakens them tremendously.
Let’s look at the history of Alaska. Its residents had to wait 92 years – since they passed into the hands of the United States – plus hold three different ballots, to convince Congress that they had a supermajority of voters.
The first ballot occurred on October 8, 1946 when 58.5% of the electorate voted in favor of statehood. Congress, however, ignored the result. A decade later, on April 24, 1956, they voted for the second time; and that day, statehood got 61.1% of the votes. They also ignored them. It was not until August 28, 1958, when 83.5% of the voters voted in favor of statehood, that Congress decided to grant it a year later.
That is to say, in those 92 years of waiting for statehood, they had to spend 47 years as an incorporated territory paying federal contributions without congressional representation and reaching 84% of the votes.
The case of Hawaii was similar. The first ballot was on November 5, 1940, when 67% of voters voted in favor of statehood. Congress did not grant it. A decade later, on November 7, 1950, 75% of voters asked for statehood, but Congress once again ignored them. It was not until June 1959, when 95% of the electors voted in favor of statehood, that Congress finally grants it.
In other words, Alaska and Hawaii had to wait almost half a century for an electoral supermajority that we all know does not exist and will not exist in the near future in Puerto Rico.
So if independence is not supported and statehood is a pipe dream, what choice do we have?
That answer is the key; And that is why, starting next week, we will begin a broad discussion on the best alternative we have as a nation: the development of a new model of political association, robust and decolonizing, that includes what the vast majority of Puerto Ricans yearn for: an ELA with powers.