On Nov. 3, as U.S. citizens in the 50 states voted for their federal representatives, more than a million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico declared in no uncertain terms, in a nonbinding referendum, that they want equality and that they no longer consent to being subject to that same federal government without having a voice and a vote.
For the third time in less than a decade, the people of Puerto Rico voted in favor of becoming a state of the United States. It is time for Congress to act on the moral and political imperative conveyed by our clear message.
But even if partisans remain unconvinced, there are far greater issues at play. Now that Puerto Rico’s desire to become a state is clear to all who believe in the sanctity of free and fair elections, it is time for Congress to act. The alternative — maintaining the status quo by doing nothing — is a betrayal of the fundamental American principle that a legitimate government requires the consent of the governed.
As the democratically chosen governor of Puerto Rico, I will work every day to ensure that my constituents, the proud American citizens whom I serve, are finally granted the rights due them.
Ultimately, however, history will be on the shoulders of the 535 voting members of the 117th U.S. Congress.
I suspect that none of them would idly stand by if their constituents were stripped of their right to have a voice and a vote in the federal government. I urge each to think about why that same principle should not apply to my constituents and to respond accordingly to their call for equality.