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Citizens' Educational Foundation-US Applauds California Legislature Resolution Supporting Self - Determination For Puerto Rico
September 20, 2001
WASHINGTON -- Herbert W. Brown III, Puerto Rican attorney and President of The Citizens' Educational Foundation-US, a national non-profit, non-partisan organization supporting self - determination for Puerto Rico, expressed appreciation for the California Legislature's joint resolution (SJR21), passed on September 12, 2001. The resolution calls for the President of the United States and the U.S. Congress to enact legislation that would define the available status options for the 3.8 million American citizens residing in Puerto Rico and authorize a plebiscite that would allow them to make a decision on a permanent political status . SJR21, sponsored by senator Richard Polanco and the California Latino Legislative Caucus, also called on the California delegation to Congress to actively promote and support timely action on this important national issue. Additionally, the resolution requested that the Secretary of the Senate transmit copies of the resolution to the President and Vice President of the United States, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Majority Leader of the Senate, each Senator and Representative from California in the Congress of the United States, and the Governor of Puerto Rico.
"This is truly a great demonstration of support for the American citizens living in Puerto Rico," Mr. Brown said. "We are very grateful for the support of the California legislature and the California Latino Legislative Caucus for this magnificent resolution. I think this will send a strong message to the Congress and the President that there is very significant support for legislation that will help resolve the status dilemma, which has caused much uncertainty about Puerto Rico's political future and has had a negative impact on its economic and social development."
President Clinton issued Executive Order 13183 on December 23, 2000, pursuant to which a task force was established to define the available political status options for Puerto Rico. The order would also make recommendations for establishing a process that would allow the U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico to decide on a permanent political status . On April 30, 2001, President Bush continued this Executive Order and set a deadline of August 1, 2001, for the task force to submit its recommendations to the President.
Mr. Brown emphasized, "We hope that this action by the California legislature will give increased impetus to the work being performed by the task force pursuant to Executive Order 13183, and that its recommendations will lead to congressional action that will authorize a genuine process for Puerto Rico self - determination . It is clear that there is a growing and strong support among the American people, and especially in the Hispanic community, for a resolution of the Puerto Rico status dilemma."
Congress granted Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship in 1917. Since that time, more than 200,000 Puerto Ricans have served in the armed forces of the United States and nearly 2,000 have sacrificed their lives in the defense of the country. Four Puerto Ricans have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for extraordinary valor in battle. Despite these contributions and despite the contributions that Puerto Rico will surely make as a consequence of our war on terrorism, Puerto Ricans have never been offered the opportunity by Congress to make a final decision on a permanent political status . They have not been given the opportunity to choose between becoming a state of the union or an independent republic. Under the present commonwealth system of government, Puerto Ricans have local self-government, but they have no voting representation in the Congress of the United States, and they are not allowed to vote for their Commander-in-Chief. During this national security crisis, it is important to remember that Puerto Ricans will once again respond to America's defense. America must then respond in-kind and give Puerto Rico an opportunity to choose its political destiny.
CONTACT: Jose Aponte for The Citizens' Educational Foundation-US, +1-202-546-3060
The above resolution is an Adobe Acrobat File. To download the FREE Adobe Acrobat Reader, visit http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep.html