Miriam Ramirez de Ferrer, M.D.
It is no coincidence that fringe political factions in Puerto Rico are burning the U.S. flag, renouncing U.S citizenship and using scare tactics about having both Spanish and English as official languages The provocative and inflammatory conduct of these ideological elements is a coordinated reaction to the fact that it is now only a matter of time before the U.S. Congress approves legislation providing for legitimate and informed self determination for Puerto Rico.
There is an anti-democratic strategy behind the action of those who claim Puerto Rican identity and demand decolonization while doing everything possible to prevent us: the people, from having an opportunity to express our will regarding status. The status debate in Congress, brought upon by the Young bill has established that true self determination requires that commonwealth be defined as a territory under the sovereignty of Congress, and that the options for decolonization are statehood or independence.
Those who do not trust the people to make the right choice do not want Congress to provide a mechanism for a free vote on valid status options. There are some small, but loud, elements in Puerto Rico who do not want real self-determination because they do not accept that people may choose a status other than the one they endorse. For these anti-democratic elements, the "right choice" is a status consistent with their ideology.
Behind their high-sounding talk about democracy, dignity and decolonization, they seek to practice ideological authoritarianism. They would rather remain colony, than allow the people to have a free a choice in a process which they cannot control. While statehooders and many independenstistas are prepared to take their case to the people and accept the results, those antidemocratic elements seek to frustrate self-determination until the window of choices, other than theirs can be closed. Then the people will be forced to accept an outcome engineered by the pro-independence intellectual elite, instead of by a majority vote.
That is why paranoid propaganda to divide our people along cultural and racial lines is being disseminated by these intellectual ideologues who believe their vision of the future must prevail over any choice the people might make. Some of these "leaders" probably imagine themselves presiding over a Puerto Rico "empire" dictating culture to the masses and serving as diplomats in New York (where their children will attend elite English-speaking private schools at the expense of working people in Puerto Rico, taxed at whatever rate it takes to support the new regime).
That is why some are some are renouncing U.S. citizenship and seek to vote in violation of laws adopted by the legislature of Puerto Rico. They have fabricated a legal theory that the people of Puerto Rico do not have U.S. nationality consistent with U.S. and international law, but separate nationality which makes U.S. nationality optional. They call it a "juridical experiment" but it is really a political theater aimed at using the courts to advance their ideological agenda.
They want to have a separate nationality imposed by legalistic trickery and judicial fiat rather than by a vote of the people. This undermine U.S. nationality and citizenship for Puerto Ricans and impresses members of Congress that we are not patriotic Americans, thus leaning towards independence. Puerto Ricans who find this entertaining may wake up some morning and find that, if these people have their way, our fate will have been decided by the ideological elite minority in the courts rather than by our votes.
Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme court ruled in 1904 that "the nationality of the island became American " under Article IX of the Treaty of Paris, and that means that the various forms of citizenship defined under the Foraker Act of 1952 have all been forms of colonial citizenship created under the territorial clause. While there have been different forms of territorial citizenship , there has been can be only one nationality, that of the United States of America.
Those who have renounced citizenship in a U.S. embassy in a foreign country, have renounced to "U.S. nationality", not "U.S. citizenship." As a result, they lose all forms of statutory citizenship that Congress has prescribed under the umbrella of U.S. nationality, including the "citizen of Puerto Rico" status under the Foraker Act and the "U.S. citizen" status under the Jones Act or later statutes. "Citizens of Puerto Rico" status under the Foraker act was created by Congress under Treaty of Paris and the territorial clause , and not through the exercise of sovereignty by the people in favor of a separate sovereignty nationality.
We sustain that if these individuals want to end U.S. nationality and create a separate Puerto Rican nationality, they should do so through a self-determination process, by persuading the voters to choose independence. We trust that the courts will ultimately recognize that their method, in the voting law case, is an attempt to abuse the judicial process, to undermine the integrity of the election law, and to disregard the constitutional process established in Puerto Rico in 1952. These ideological fringe elements will have to learn to trust the people to make a choice in a free and informed status vote, for that is what self determination is all about. After all, trusting the people and accepting their freely expressed will is the essence of democracy.