Governor Calls for Permanent Non-Territorial and Non-Colonial Status for Puerto Rico
Governor Pedro Pierluisi has written to the United States Civil Rights Commission, calling for a permanent non-territorial and non-colonial status for Puerto Rico, stating that the current colonial condition results in discrimination against American citizens residing in Puerto Rico and deprives them of voting rights for representation in the federal government. []
The purpose of the letter is to provide specific examples of inequalities in support programs and to advocate for the status issue to be definitively resolved, and for Puerto Rico to receive equality. The ongoing activities of the United States Civil Rights Commission’s Puerto Rico Advisory Committee, which is examining island cases, the unincorporated territory doctrine, and its effects on the exercise of the civil rights of residents of Puerto Rico, were mentioned in the letter.
According to Governor Pierluisi, Puerto Ricans living on the Island face discrimination in various federal programs. In support, he stated that Puerto Ricans on the Island receive only about $82 per month for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit, whereas citizens who live in the states and in Washington DC receive around $574 per month. Pierluisi also highlighted the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), to which Puerto Ricans on the Island are not entitled and are only beneficiaries of the Nutrition Assistance Program (PAN), which is different from all other states in the Nation. []
Furthermore, the governor cited Veterans Affairs, Medicaid, and the lack of representation despite Puerto Ricans being American citizens. He argued that the way forward is to resolve the status of Puerto Rico definitively, citing judicial action on the insular cases that provide the legal foundation and cause inequality for Puerto Ricans and an Act of Congress. Governor Pierluisi also mentioned the three times Puerto Ricans voted for statehood in the last 11 years but Congress did not act, noting that there can be no democratic process without self-determination. []