BUDPR Statement on 2023 Puerto Rico Status Bill in the U.S. Senate

November 7, 2023

Boricuas Unidos en la Diáspora (BUDPR) always welcomes when Congress takes meaningful action on Puerto Rico’s colonial status. However, today’s reintroduction of the Puerto Rico Status Act in the U.S. Senate is hardly meaningful and barely counts as action. Instead, it is a political stunt by lawmakers who want to appear supportive of Puerto Rico even as they introduce a bill they know is dead on arrival.

Hailed by some as a landmark bill that could serve as a foundation for future legislation to decolonize Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rico Status Act has instead become the opposite: a roadmap for failure and inaction. In the House of Representatives, it has stalled because of Republican opposition and Democratic disinterest. In the Senate, it will face the same obstacles, including a lack of support from key leaders like Sen. Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Manchin (D-WV).

While the Puerto Rico Status Act remains commendable in its exclusion of the colonial status quo and its attempt to define legitimate options, it is still essentially flawed. Its definitions and transition plans were negotiated behind closed doors in Congress, without meaningful participation by Puerto Ricans. It does not address essential economic and cultural questions. And it continues to ignore the elephant in the room: the political impossibility of any legislation that could force Congress to grant statehood.

When Congress wants to get serious about ending Puerto Rico’s shameful, 125-year-old colonial status, it must address these and other impediments and concerns. To that end, our organization has published a framework for an effective, inclusive, and politically feasible Puerto Rico status legislation. We stand ready to support leaders who are willing to work on a legitimate and realistic decolonization effort, not waste Puerto Ricans’ time in order to score political points.