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Sun-Sentinel Ft. Lauderdale
Change Puerto Ricos Status -- And Soon
July 12, 2000
The Navy has once again started their target practice in Vieques . Protesters continue to interfere, delaying the maneuvers. A Navy spokesperson claims that in Oklahoma they practice with live ammunition only a mile and a half away from civilian populations, while in Vieques they are 10 miles away. Yes, but Oklahoma is a state of the Union with full voting rights for its people, senators and representatives in Congress and federally taxed. Puerto Rico is a territory with a mere representative in Congress who does not vote and it's not federally taxed. The problem is a political one, and Congress bears the responsibility.
When the city of San Juan was shelled by American forces more than 100 years ago and American troops landed in our southern shores, the U.S. assumed responsibility over the island. A treaty was signed with Spain in Paris giving Congress full powers, yet they continue to shirk their reponsibility.
By not acting decisively to either grant statehood, implement free association or declare independence and passing the buck back to the Puerto Rican people, Congress continues to ignore its "colonial" problem. This policy of self-determination only favors inaction by Congress.
In order to break our colonial yoke, Congress should recognize the problem and act. Hold an election by offering our people only those options that they are willing to implement. Be specific about the alternatives and the timetable for implementation. Above all be reasonable and fair. Then honor your commitment. Do something. One hundred years of colonial rule is just too much. America does not want a stain instead of a star on its flag.
LUIS GEIGEL-LORES, Boca Raton