April 20, 2023
Contact: Boricuas Unidos en la Diáspora

BUDPR Raises Renewed Concerns about Puerto Rico Status Act; Shares Framework for Future Legislation

The Puerto Rican diaspora organization advocating for decolonization and sovereignty highlights critical issues with the Puerto Rico Status Act and outlines key principles for a just process.

APRIL 20, 2023 - Boricuas Unidos en la Diáspora welcomes the reintroduction of the Puerto Rico Status Act led by Ranking Member Raul M. Grijalva in the U.S. House of Representatives, albeit with serious reservations about its viability and its lack of clarity in various key aspects.

Boricuas Unidos en la Diáspora, or BUDPR Action, is a coalition of Puerto Ricans across the United States fighting for a just and viable decolonization process for Puerto Rico. BUDPR has advocated in the U.S. Congress for legislation that would effectively lead to true decolonization, and casts doubts on numerous aspects of this recycled piece of legislation that is unlikely to advance a solution to Puerto Rico’s status.

“This bill repeats some of the same mistakes of the 2022 Puerto Rico Status Act, which passed the House in a lame-duck Congress at the 11th hour and was never even going to be considered by the Senate,” said Luis Ponce Ruiz, President of BUDPR Action. “We are glad that it will continue to spur debate about Puerto Rico’s colonial status but we anticipate that it will not fare better in this Congress, and we are focused on engaging with lawmakers on an inclusive, democratic, and politically viable decolonization process.”

The new Puerto Rico Status Act has not addressed several serious deficiencies of the previous bill, which was the result of closed-door negotiations in Congress and left unaddressed key questions of vital importance to the Puerto Rican people. Concretely, this new legislation:

  • Includes definitions and transitions for each status option decided unilaterally by U.S. lawmakers, not by the Puerto Rican people;
  • Does not include provisions for preserving Puerto Rico’s language and cultural identity under statehood;
  • Attempts to dictate to Puerto Ricans how we should self-govern under a sovereign status like independence or free association.

Moreover, the Puerto Rico Status Act does not address the political reality, expressed by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, that Congress does not consider a slim majority sufficient consensus to grant statehood.

To address these concerns and work toward a fair and viable decolonization process, Boricuas Unidos en la Diáspora has drafted a 10-point framework for any Puerto Rico status legislation that can inform efforts for true Puerto Rican self-determination. We have shared our framework, included alongside this release, with the leaders of the House Natural Resources Committee and with other key lawmakers to establish a coherent vision for Puerto Rican decolonization.

The framework is based on three principles:

  • The colonial status quo is not an option and it must end. Inaction by Congress on statehood cannot continue to result in the perpetuation of colonialism and must lead to independence.
  • Puerto Rico status legislation is only useful if it is politically viable. “Message bills” that are destined to be rejected by Congress do not represent real progress. Any process must take into account political realities in the United States.
  • Puerto Ricans must have a leading role in the process and our key concerns must be addressed. Vital questions related to citizenship, language, economic transition, etc. must be discussed and decided—together—by Puerto Rico and the United States.

“Our organization will continue meeting with House and Senate offices to express our concerns about this bill, to work together on legislation based on our framework, and to promote sovereignty as the only just and politically realistic solution to Puerto Rico’s colonial status,” said Ponce Ruiz.