TIME TO CHANGE PUERTO RICO
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
I am pleased to welcome you to Igualdad’s website and hope that you will avail yourself of the vital information that defines our tireless mission to advance statehood status for over 3.2 million American citizens who live in Puerto Rico--the largest, oldest and most populated colony in the world spanning over a century. Treated as second-class citizens, Puerto Ricans are deprived of political and economic equality compared with the other 50 states of the Union, over twenty of them with lesser populations.
No matter what side of the political fence you’re on, I trust that you will enjoy browsing through the various segments that recount our history, the many contributions Puerto Ricans have made to the Nation and the world and the challenges we face in our ongoing journey to attain admission as a state of the Union.
I invite you to read in this website “A Declaration of Statehood for Puerto Rico, an all-inclusive and factual account of the case for Puerto Rico statehood.
Igualdad Futuro Seguro
Even after two referenda held in 2012 and 2017 resulted in a majority of voters rejecting the current status as a U.S. territory and choosing statehood, the U.S. Congress has failed to respond to Puerto Rico’s unrelenting pursuit of equality through statehood. Thus, under colonial status, we continue to be politically disenfranchised, unable to vote for the President and Congress. Puerto Ricans are allowed to participate in Primary elections but have no access to the Electoral College. Our only representation in Congress is a Resident Commissioner who has a voice but no voting power.
Most notably, political and economic disparities have hindered Puerto Rico’s socio-economic growth. Unequal treatment under most federal grants has greatly affected our vulnerable communities in the areas of health, housing, safety and education as well as other vital socio-economic developmental areas. In addition, our most susceptible populations suffer in a disproportionate manner from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, respiratory ailments and other preventable and treatable diseases. It is relevant to note that a “brain drain” effect, or flight of talented and highly skilled individuals, has caused a serious lack of medical, technical, educational and other professionals as they have migrated to the mainland to find opportunities to grow in their respective professions.
“The driving force behind the Statehood movement is the pursuit of equality for 3.2 million U.S. citizens who, because they live in colonial Puerto Rico, are treated as second-class citizens and are politically disenfranchised and hampered in their economic growth.”
The enactment of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) and the Financial Oversight Board, resulting from a public debt estimated at $74 billion, has imposed austerity measures that have had an overall negative impact on the quality of life of the entire population.
The devastation caused by Hurricane Maria on September 20, 2017, unveiled the depth of poverty on the island and how Puerto Rico's colonial status— as a territory of USA— has contributed to perpetuate unequal treatment to American citizens who reside on the island.
Our steadfast determination for equality through statehood has maintained its course. On June 27, 2018, a bipartisan bill—H.R. 6246, known as the Puerto Rico Admission Act of 2018—https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/6246/text was officially presented to Congress by the island’s elected Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón to make the territory of Puerto Rico a State of the Union by 2021. Thus far, the bill has the support of almost 50 Republican and Democrat Congressional members. Under this bill, Puerto Rico would be integrated as an incorporated territory of the United States until it is fully accepted as a state no later than January 2021.
Puerto Rico’s efforts to achieve equality through statehood has garnered the support of many prestigious institutions, such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Congress of Racial Equality, the American Jewish Committee and other governmental and grassroots organizations. In other significant steps to further statehood status, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights— during a hearing held in Boulder, Colorado on October 5, 2018— examined complaints against the United States for violations that deny American citizens residing in Puerto Rico their right to vote in Federal elections.
“Treated as second class-citizens living on the island, millions of Puerto Ricans have already voted for statehood with an airplane ticket, migrating to the mainland in search of the equality that statehood offers.”
Interestingly, the desolation triggered by Hurricane Maria has strengthened the status matter, putting the colonialism issue "on the world stage." As Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló stated before the NAACP 2018 convention "colonialism is political segregation that has no place in America." I think it is reasonable to assert that the United States, as the standard bearer for democracy, cannot prolong justice for American citizens living in Puerto Rico.
As the 51st state, Puerto Rico will enrich America’s cultural diversity. Puerto Ricans have made invaluable contributions to all areas of endeavor, exceling in the fields of science, the arts, sports and politics, among other outstanding arenas. Furthermore, Puerto Ricans have proudly and bravely served in all branches of the military— from WWI, WWII and the Korean Conflict, some making the ultimate sacrifice. Sadly, even then, the 65th Infantry Regiment (the Borinqueneers) was a segregated unit. It was not until July 2014 that their loyalty to America was finally recognized with the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor. Puerto Ricans continued to serve in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan as well as in America’s efforts against ISIS.
As we strengthen our resolve to end unequal treatment, we are eager to raise awareness and educate all stakeholders about why the territory of Puerto Rico should be admitted as a state of the Union.
This is a crucial time in history; and we must move forward to end political impasse and demand Congress to redress decades of unfair treatment and give 21st century Puerto Rico the justice it deserves.
Igualdad Futuro Seguro
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Annabel Guillén, President
Helcias Bermúdez, Vice President
Clyde Fassick Juliá, Treasurer
Roberto Fernández, Finance Committee Director
Nydia Ríos, Communications
Members (in formation)
Gregorio Igartúa, Esq.
Dr. Norman Maldonado
Francisco González Magaz, Esq.
Kate Donnelly de Romero
Hernán Padilla, Founding President