DR. MIRIAM RAMIREZ DEFENDS H.R.856
As President of Puerto Ricans in Civic Action, Dr. Miriam J. Ramirez, testified at the hearing held on H.R.856 in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. Dr. Ramirez sees H.R. 856 - also known as " The United States- Puerto Rico Political Status Act" as the solution to Puerto Rico's status situation. She began her testimony by defending the need for H.R. 856 in Congress, " in 1991 Congress tried but failed to approve a political status legislation for Puerto Rico."
According to Dr. Ramirez the current political relationship is not constitutionally permanent. " it is a status created by statutes approved by Congress at any time, in the exercise of territorial clause authority". In her testimony she explained the view of Commonwealth defenders and how in 1993 it failed to receive a majority vote with only of the votes. The plebiscite process of 1993 did not decide a political future for Puerto Rico since no status option received the majority of votes. The ballot included three options- statehood, commonwealth and independence.
Other points discussed in her testimony included the self-determination based on real options, "it was a mistake to revise the legislation in order to present 'commonwealth' as a third option, in a side-by-side format with statehood, and separate sovereignty." The present ballot presents the three status options and Commonwealth proponents believe that a ballot without that option would be unfair. Dr. Ramirez believes that the two-part ballot was "more truthful and accurate".
Dr. Ramirez addressed that the proposal made during the March 19, 1997 hearing in Washington, D.C. should not be accepted. The proposal addressed the issue that any U.S. citizen born in Puerto Rico should be qualified to vote in the referenda held under H.R. 856 legislation:
"If Puerto Ricans in the mainland are allowed to vote and the result is statehood, the entire process is subject to valid criticism .".
The voting process of Puerto Rico has absentee voting procedures that are followed in plebiscite processes. Dr. Ramirez explained in her testimony various areas of concern and clarified some arguments that can impede a fair process.