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Citizens' Educational Foundation-US
Citizens Educational Foundation-US Applauds The Veterans of Foreign Wars Resolution Supporting Self-Determination for Puerto Rico
September 24, 2002
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington D.C., September 23, 2002, --- 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, expresses appreciation for the Veterans of Foreign Wars resolution passed at their annual convention in August 2002. 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.
"With the war on terrorism on the front burner, Vieques returns again to the forefront in Puerto Rican news. Whether or not the navy continues to use the island for military exercises beyond May 2003 is an issue, but it is a symptom of the overall status issue. Policy like this highlights the need for clear unambiguous Congressional and Presidential action," said Executive Director, Jose E. Aponte.
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 Americas defense. America must then respond in-kind and give Puerto Rico an opportunity to choose its political destiny.
VFW Resolution No. 432
SUPPORT OF SELF-DETERMINATION FOR PUERTO RICO
WHEREAS, Puerto Rico became part of the United States as a consequence
of the Spanish-American War of 1898; and
WHEREAS, in 1917, the people of Puerto Rico were bestowed with American
WHEREAS, since Puerto Rico became part of the United States, the
American citizens of Puerto Rico have steadfastly pursed greater local self-governing rights and responsibilities; and
WHEREAS, Congress in its exercise of its responsibility under the Territorial Clause of the United States Constitution has responded by granting increased levels of internal self-government to Puerto Rico; and
WHEREAS, in spite of these advancements to achieve internal self-
government, the federal government has never allowed the American citizens of Puerto Rico to determine their political future; and
WHEREAS, this situation is a clear contradiction to one of most fundamental principles of American Democracy: Government by Consent All Citizens; and
WHEREAS, since 1917, 2,000,000 American citizens of Puerto Rico have
joined their fellow American citizens, as members of the United States armed forces, defending and spreading the right to self-government all over the world; and
WHEREAS, we recognize the contributions of the American citizens of Puerto Rico to our nation's armed forces, and we believe that it is time to honor the memory of those who have died for our nation allowing them to exercise the same right they have fought and died for Government by Consent; and
WHEREAS, the Congressional legislation is the proper mechanisms to
establish a fair and valid self-determination process for the American citizens of Puerto Rico; now, therefore
BE IT RESOLVED, by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States,
that we urge the President of the United States and the Congress to enact legislation that supports self-determination for Puerto Rico by defining the political status options available to United States citizens of Puerto Rico and authorizing a plebiscite to provide an opportunity for Puerto Ricans to make an informed decision regarding the island's political future.
Adopted by the 103rd National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States held in Nashville, Tennessee, August 24-30, 2002