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Citizens' Educational Foundation Lauds Federal Judge's Decision in Puerto Rico Voting Rights Case
July 21, 2000
NEW YORK - Today Jaime Pieras Jr., United States District Judge for the District of Puerto Rico , denied a motion to dismiss a case brought by United States citizens residing in Puerto Rico who seek a declaratory judgment allowing them to vote in presidential elections (Igartua De La Rosa et al vs. United States of America). In his ruling, Judge Pieras emphasizes that, "Any status formula that hinders freedom in so far as it does not guarantee the participation of U.S. citizens residing in Puerto Rico in Congressional and Presidential elections is unconstitutional and unconscionable and cannot be included as one of the [ status ] options."
Herbert W. Brown III, President of the Citizens' Educational Foundation commented that, "Today's decision highlights the current second-class status of nearly 4 million American citizens residing in Puerto Rico , and reaffirms the need for a federally sanctioned process that, once and for all, would allow the people of Puerto Rico an opportunity to choose either to become full partners in our American democracy or to take their rightful place among the community of nations."
According to Mr. Brown, Judge Pieras, as President Clinton recently did in calling for a Puerto Rico status summit, recognizes the injustice if having a substantial number of American citizens who are disenfranchised and unable to participate in their federal government. This includes their lack of voting representation in Congress, under whose laws Puerto Ricans respectfully live, and their inability to vote for the President and Commander-in-Chief under whom Puerto Ricans have proudly served in the U.S. military since citizenship was extended to them in 1917.
"It is up to Congress and the President to provide the people of Puerto Rico with an informed choice as to the realistic, i.e. non-territorial status options available to them," said Mr. Brown. He continued, "whatever the ultimate outcome -- statehood or independence -- it is a matter of civil rights and human dignity that Puerto Ricans have full voting rights and representation in their national government. Allowing the disenfranchisement of nearly 4 million Americans citizens in perpetuity, through the continuation of the current territorial status , is undemocratic and wrong, and the Citizens' Educational Foundation will work tirelessly to resolve Puerto Rico 's status dilemma which is the unresolved business of American democracy.
The Citizens Educational Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan organization committed to realizing self - determination for the U.S. citizens residing in Puerto Rico , through a federally sanctioned process to enable the people of Puerto Rico to make an informed decisions to a permanent status .
CONTACT: Jose Aponte, of The Citizens Educational Foundation, 212-626-6748