We are two Puerto Rico-born Colorado residents working with Boricuas Unidos en la Diáspora (BUDPR), a group of Puerto Ricans in the United States and around the world who advocate for a just political future for our homeland. As part of this work, we have recently met with members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation, four of whom sit on the House Natural Resources Committee which oversees Puerto Rico — Representative Neguse is already a co-sponsor of the PRSDA, along with more than 80 other influential Democrats. Time and again, we’ve heard how important it is for members of Congress to hear from their constituents about this issue.
That relationship between public officials and the voters who elect them is fundamental to democracy, and it throws into stark relief the egregious political subordination of Puerto Ricans. Whose constituents are the millions of Puerto Ricans on the island? Who speaks for and listens to them? Puerto Ricans elect a single delegate to Congress who cannot vote on legislation and is therefore, for all intents and purposes, politically impotent. No other elected official in the United States answers to the Puerto Rican people. At the same time, the U.S. has ignored, in the best of times, and violently repressed in the worst of times, the Puerto Rican independence movement, suppressing any efforts toward national liberation.