PUERTO RICO SENATE PRESIDENT RODRIGUEZ SAYS POLL BACKS STATUS BILL, STATEHOOD CHOICE WILL BE HONORED
Senator Charles A. Rodriguez, President of the Puerto Rico Senate, hailed the results of a nationwide poll that found that sixty-five percent of American voters, up from 59 percent in a1991 Gallup poll, would support making Puerto Rico the fifty-first state if a majority of Puerto Ricans voted for statehood in a 1998 congressionally sponsored status plebiscite under the US-Puerto Rico Political Status Act, HR 856. The proposed legislation is scheduled to be voted on by the US House of Representatives this fall.
"Its clear that the American people, by overwhelming numbers, back Puerto Rico self-determination and are prepared to honor a choice for statehood if that is the will of a majority of our electorate. Thats the American way," said Senate President Rodriguez.
In addition, fifty-five percent of the polls respondents favored making Puerto Rico the fifty-first state if English and Spanish continued to share equal status as official languages for Puerto Rican state government business. "These results once and for all refute the unfounded claims of opponents of Puerto Rico self-determination that Puerto Rico would have to make English its only official language, giving up Spanish, before the American people would consider its admission to the Union," Rodriguez added.
Equally important, said Rodriguez, these pro-statehood attitudes provide reassurance to Puerto Ricos 3.8 million US citizens that if they vote for statehood in the 1998 plebiscite their choice will be honored by the American electorate. "After 500 years of colonial rule, 100 under American administration, the American people are prepared to offer Puerto Ricos American citizens the equal and first class constitutional rights of citizenship at home they have valiantly defended abroad since WW I," Rodriguez concluded.
The poll was commissioned by Senator Rodriguez to determine the American voters commitment to the principles of Puerto Rico self-determination as incorporated in the US-Puerto Rico Political Status Act. The bill provides for a non-binding status plebiscite, to be held no later than 1998, among Puerto Rican voters as to their choice among three status options: the current territorial commonwealth, independence or statehood.
The US-Puerto Rico Political Status Act, with bi-partisan support, is sponsored by House Resources Committee Chairman Don Young (R-AK), Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO), Resident Commissioner Carlos Romero Barcelo (D-PR) and over 80 co-sponsors. A companion bill, S 472, co-sponsored by Senators Larry Craig (R-ID) and Bob Graham (D-FL) awaits Senate action.
The nationwide poll of 1,123 likely voters was conducted on August 25-27, 1997 by Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research, Inc., a politically independent firm with offices in Columbia, MD., and Miami, FL.
Mason-Dixon Vice President Robert Joffee has indicated that he will be available to answer any inquiries about findings on the issue of Puerto Rican status. He can be reached in Miami at 305/885-9369.