Governor Ricardo Rossello of Puerto Rico has started naming representatives to be sent to Washington even as the United States Congress has still not given formal recognition to the yet now US territory as a full fledged US state. Rossello will send five Congressmen and two Senators to Washington with full intention of seating the representatives in Congress. Residents of the island are all for statehood which they have affirmed with a specific non-binding vote. Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon, the Resident Commissioner, said the voting majority of 97 percent was a strong mandate for statehood.
Equality process and practical difficulties
The intention of Puerto Rico to send representatives comes from a law Governor Rossello has signed. He gave his signature to “Equality Plan” on June 5. The plan asks the territory to send its representatives to Congress. These candidates would need to be approved by the Puerto Rican legislature. They must also speak two languages and be US citizens.
This is not an easy process. Puerto Rico must have Congress support and also the support of the President of the United States to be a state. If it does not get that, then its 'representatives' will not get a seat. This was echoed by Luis Fortuno, the former governor of Puerto Rico, who said that there can be roadblocks when the Congress “shadow members” are sent. He pointed out that as Puerto Rico is not a member state of the Union, there are no seats for those representatives in Congress. He expressed the hope that the will of the Puerto Rico voters should be heard. He expressed the hope that representative arrivals to Congress in Washington will boost statehood recognition chances. Fortuno supports statehood for Puerto Rico.
In Washington, the Puerto Rico statehood topic has gathered steam, with a number of Democrats supporting the move. Representative Darren Soto said the statehood concerns equality and civil rights. He pointed out that Puerto Ricans are Americans and they serve in the US military and pay federal taxes. They do everything which a US citizen does and Congress must respect what they want. The statehood push is also being endorsed by Chairman Tom Perez of Democratic National Committee. Mr. Perez is the first Latino to be elected the chairman of DNC. He has proposed a specific bill which asks the president to give a proclamation recognizing the territory of Puerto Rico as 51st state of the United States.