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PUERTO RICO HERALD
YOUNG REPUBLICAN FEDERATION OF PUERTO RICO: 2004 POLICY PAPER
YOUNG REPUBLICAN FEDERATION OF PUERTO RICO: 2004 POLICY PAPER
REPUBLICANS IN PUERTO RICO AND ACROSS THE COUNTRY ARE WORKING HARD TO CONTINUE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP UNDER PRESIDENT BUSH!
AMERICANS FROM PUERTO RICO WHO RESIDE AND VOTE IN FLORIDA, OHIO, NEW YORK AND OTHER STATES ARE ON THE FRONT LINE IN THIS ELECTION, AND ARE COUNTING ON ALL REPUBLICANS TO SUPPORT PRESIDENT BUSHS POLICY ON PUERTO RICO.
HERE ARE THE MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS REPUBLICANS NEED TO KNOW TO SUPPORT THE GOP PLATFORM ON PUERTO RICO, AND TO MOBILIZE PUERTO RICAN GOP VOTERS IN EVERY STATE.
Question: What is the GOP Platform policy on Puerto Rico?
Answer: In keeping with GOP commitment to consent of the governed and equal rights and duties for all U.S. citizens, the 2004 GOP Platform Committee has approved language on Puerto Ricos status reads as follows:
"Strengthening Our Communities: Americans in the Territories. We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state after they freely so determine. We recognize that Congress has the final authority to define the constitutionally valid options for Puerto Rico to achieve a permanent non-territorial status with government by consent and full enfranchisement. As long as Puerto Rico is not a State, however, the will of its people regarding their political status should be ascertained by means of a general right of referendum or specific referenda sponsored by the United States government."
This platform language is based on the Memorandum of the President, November 30, 1992 (F.R. 57093), making "periodic" status votes and "state like" treatment of Puerto Rico official White House policy. This1992 "Bush Memo" on Puerto Rico has not been altered or superseded by intervening presidential directives regarding the territory.
Question: Why does the GOP support statehood for Puerto Rico?
Answer: President Ronald Reagan stated that "As a commonwealth Puerto Rico is now neither a state nor independent, and thereby has an historically unnatural status". It could not be said any better than that. GOP support for statehood goes all the way back to the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, ratified in the first session of the U.S. Congress in 1789. Reagan understood the historical tradition of incorporating territories with U.S. citizen populations into the union, leading to statehood.
Beginning in 1796, 32 territories were incorporated and ultimately admitted into the union in the great anti-colonial tradition of the Northwest Ordinance. In 1922 the federal government deviated from the successful Northwest Ordinance model in its policy toward Puerto Rico due to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that intruded on the legislative and policy making power of Congress in the territories under Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution. This was judicial activism and federal social engineering at its worst, and is the source of the Puerto Rico status problem.
In addition, the present commonwealth system of local territorial government has failed to integrate Puerto Rico into the life of our nation, foster political status resolution, or even enable Puerto Rico to pay its own way as a territory.
Republicans are very competitive in Puerto Rico electoral politics. Even after decades of Democratic Party pandering to ethnic fears, and federal largesse aimed more at creating dependency than unleashing the productivity of the citizenry, polling shows that socially conservative Puerto Rico is fertile ground for a Republican agenda to take root.
Question: Why should the GOP support statehood, when the voters repeatedly show a preference for the current status?
Answer: It should be noted that many current states of the union voted against statehood multiple times before a majority for admission was achieved. For example, Wisconsin had a pro-statehood vote of only 25% in 1842, 30% in 1843, and 22% in 1844. After Congress clarified the terms for statehood the vote went up to 83%. The pro-statehood vote in what became the State of Washington fell from 47% in 1869 to 30% in 1871, then rose to 60% when Congress adopted terms for admission.
In that historical context, even with the misleading definition of the present status as a form of nationhood by the commonwealth party, the clear trend in Puerto Rico status votes favors statehood:
Ballot Options Dates and Results of Puerto Rico Political Status Votes
July 23, 1967 November 14, 1993 December 13, 1998
Commonwealth 60.5% 48.6% 0.01%
Statehood 38.9% 46.4% 46.5%
Independence 0.5% 4.5% 2.5%
Free Association * * .02%
None of the Above * * 50.2%
Question: If a majority of the voters approved "None of the Above" in the last vote, doesnt that mean there is no majority for statehood? Doesnt that mean they are content with the current status?
Answer: It is a common misconception that the voters have approved continuation of the present status in locally conducted votes in the past. It is generally recognized that a vote between the historical constitutional norms of statehood and independence would produce a large majority for statehood.
That is why the local political party whose leadership thrives from perpetuation of the status quo has relentlessly demanded a third option on each local referendum ballot that was not the current status at all. In these past votes the local commonwealth party has defined commonwealth as separate nationhood rather than territorial status, promising the benefits of permanent union and U.S. citizenship under the U.S. Constitution, even though those rights are secured only through statehood.
In a 1998 vote, in which commonwealth was accurately defined as a territory under federal law, the present status got less than 1/10th of 1% of the vote. Yet, there is a common misconception that a 50% vote for "None of the Above" option in the 1998 vote was voter endorsement of the current territorial status. It is complex and confusing, but the 1998 "None of the Above" vote reflected more than anything else local political controversy and frustration over the status issue.
The bizarre vote in 1998 was also in part a reaction to failure of the U.S. Senate to take up and debate a bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in March of that year. That House bill defined for the first time in a century the options for a permanent status with consent of the governed and equal rights and duties of citizenship.
Question: Doesnt Puerto Rico have self-rule already, why change the political relationship now?
Answer: Puerto Rico is governed by Congress under its territorial powers. It has self-government in local affairs unless otherwise determined by federal law. This means 4 million of our fellow U.S. citizens are denied consent of the governed to the supreme law of the land. For decades the Democratic Party has made a hollow promise to accept whatever future status the people want, cynically pretending otherwise while knowing an informed choice cannot be made until Congress defines the legally valid status options it will consider if approved locally. Equal rights and duties of national citizenship, are imperative to status resolution for Puerto Rico.
On December 3, 2003, President Bush signed an Executive Order directing the Presidents Task Force on Puerto Rico Status to report back to the President in 2005 on the constitutionally valid status options for Puerto Rico. That will be the next step in implementation of the GOP platform on Puerto Rico.
Question: Isnt Puerto Rico too poor to become a state?
Answer: If Puerto Rico is included in Republican economic policies aimed at job creation and growth, and treated as an integral part of the national economy instead of a "foreign" tax haven, Puerto Rico will one again be on a trajectory of convergence with the national economy. That will reduce federal subsidies of the present commonwealth system of territorial government, and eventually Puerto Rico will be able to pay its own way as the transition to statehood advances. That is the Republican policy that Ronald Reagan supported, and that is embodied in the GOP Platform.
Thirty-two other territories, including Alaska and Hawaii, converged with the national economy and can pay their own way in the union because of admission to statehood. Only statehood presents a clear path to ending the current 15 billion dollar annual U.S. taxpayer subsidy of the current commonwealth system of territorial administration. Because of the uncertainties of the current commonwealth status, investment from the mainland and abroad in Puerto Rico, while strong and promising if the status issue is resolved, has not attained mainland levels. The standard of living in the territory is higher than any other island society in the region, but still lower than in the states of the union.
Experiments by Congress in the past with artificial economic incentives, including federal tax credit schemes based on a fiction treating Puerto Rico as "foreign", failed to produce sustainable economic growth. Every former U.S. territory, including those with smaller populations and economic base than Puerto Rico at the time of admission, achieved and sustained economic integration with the rest of the nation after admission to the union.
2004 GOP PUERTO RICO FACT SHEET
HERE ARE THE FACTS REPUBLICANS NEED TO SUPPORT THE GOP PLATFORM ON PUERTO RICO, AND TO MOBILIZE PUERTO RICAN VOTERS IN EVERY STATE TO SUPPORT OUR PARTY AND OUR PRESIDENT!
GOP PUERTO RICO FACTS:
Bush Policy for Fulfilling Americas Promise to U.S. Citizens in Puerto Rico, USA:
On December 3, 2003, President Bush issued an Executive Order directing the Presidents Task Force on Puerto Ricos Status to submit a report in 2005 confirming the constitutionally valid options for resolving the status of Puerto Rico. This status resolution initiative delivers on the principles of the 2000 and 2004 GOP Platform on Puerto Rico.
The Bush Administration has confirmed that the options for full and final resolution of the status question, based on full enfranchisement and government by consent, are limited by the U.S. Constitution to a choice between non-territorial options of statehood or separate nationhood. Of course, the current territorial status, including the commonwealth system of local government, can continue until a permanent status is achieved, so long as Congress so determines, after taking into account local democratically expressed aspirations.
Puerto Rico, USA: Did You Know?
Puerto Rico is the last large and populous U.S. territory. San Juan is the oldest city in the United States, and the U.S. flag has flown proudly over our capital since 1898.
Puerto Rico is the center of U.S. interests at the southeastern border of our nation.
There are 4 million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, more than in half the states of the union, and comparable in size of population to Kentucky. Another 4 million Americans from Puerto Rico live and vote in Florida, New York, Illinois, New Jersey and throughout the nation.
U.S. citizens from Puerto Rico have served alongside their fellow Americans in every war in the last century. Thousands of our patriotic sons and daughters have been killed and injured defending America, and we honor each one with the same pride as we do the Puerto Rican heroes awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Ten reserve units from Puerto are deployed in the War on Terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq, through the Manpower Mobilization Command at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico.
Puerto Ricans historically have served in numbers disproportionate to the states, and press reports indicate Puerto Rico is currently contributing manpower to the War on Terrorism at a per capita rate higher than 37 states of the union.
Puerto Rico is the only large and populous U.S. territory in the history of our nation to be granted U.S. citizenship without also being incorporated and admitted as a state of the union.
U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico were allowed by Congress to adopt a local constitution in 1952, but self-government under the commonwealth constitution is limited to local matters not otherwise governed by federal law. Limited self-government and treatment of Puerto Rico as a "foreign" tax shelter for U.S. companies did not sustain Puerto Ricos economic progress.
Because economic convergence with the rest of the nation has been delayed by the political status dilemma, the U.S. taxpayer still subsidizes the current commonwealth system of territorial government at the level of $15 billion dollars annually.
Only the investment and private sector driven growth that will come with statehood will enable Puerto Rico to pay its own way in the union. That is what historically has happened in territories admitted as states.
Instead of political and economic integration, under the present commonwealth system four million U.S. citizens of Hispanic origins still have no voting representation in Congress, and no voting rights in national elections for President and Vice President.
Exemption from some but not all federal taxes does not make indefinite disenfranchisement tolerable. That is why the current territorial status received less than 1/10th of 1% of the vote in the last status referendum conducted under local law in 1998. Over 46% voted for statehood, but 50 percent of voters protested the referendum by casting ballots for "None of the Above".
The 1998 status vote was inconclusive because it took place in the shadow U.S. Senate failure to consider a Republican sponsored bill that had passed the House of Representatives, defining legally valid terms for statehood, independence or continuation of the current status.
While some who favor the current status argue Puerto Rico can become an "autonomous commonwealth" with features of both statehood and independent nationhood, that is a formula for Quebec-like separatism in America.
The real choices for Puerto Rico and America are statehood, territorial status (with limited self-government under commonwealth system of local government), or independence (without or without a treaty of association to preserve close relations for an additional period of years).
YOUNG REPUBLICAN FEDERATION OF PUERTO RICO