Response to Public Hearing of August 1, 2013 of the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

August 9, 2013

US Senate Committee
on Energy and Natural Resources
304 Dirksen Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510

Re: Response to Public Hearing of August 1, 2013 of the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources by Dr. Hernán Padilla and Alfredo Castellanos, Esq.

Dear Honorable Committee Members,
Greetings from Puerto Rico! By means of introduction, my name is Dr. Hernán Padilla, I am a former two term Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, our Capital City, and the first Hispanic President of the “United States Conference of Mayors”. The co-author of this letter, Mr. Alfredo Castellanos, Esq., serves both as a legal counsel of our entity and as a constitutional and historical advisor. I currently preside over a non-partisan, grass-roots citizen advocacy organization (Igualdad) comprised of hundreds of members directly, and thousands of members indirectly through affiliated supporters and independent groups, whose common denominator and primary mission is to support Puerto Rico becoming the 51st State of the Union. Our organization and the undersigned, believe that equality of rights for the people of Puerto Rico, as well as true individual and state sovereignty, can only be achieved under our Constitutional Order through Statehood.

The time has come for Congress to act upon Puerto Rico’s desire to become a State of the Union . It behooves our organization and the undersigned to express some of our thoughts and concerns regarding the above matter, with the hope that our contribution will assist in analyzing the predicament that 3.7 million American citizens face by being disenfranchised, among other compelling realities and inequities and Republican deficiencies that are inherent in our territorial constitutional structure.

As history illustrates, since the founding of our Republic, the aspiration of the American People is to recognize and implement the revolutionary concept that people are capable of governing themselves in the pursuit of their respective happiness. Unfortunately, this noble aspiration has not been reached by numerous marginalized and disenfranchised groups in our Nation. Puerto Rico is among them.

Our Founding fathers original conception was to create a permanent union of states and citizens so that our Nation would become the beacon of liberty and democratic principles throughout the world. Unfortunately, as it pertains to the people and the citizens of Puerto Rico, Congress and the Supreme Court, in interpreting our Constitution, have imposed unfounded and discriminatory “barriers of entry” for Puerto Rico to enter as a partner of our 50 states Union, depriving the people of Puerto Rico fundamental rights that belong to all Americans.

In 2013, with the eyes of the World watching, Congress received an electoral mandate from the People of Puerto Rico and a moral responsibility to end the historical segregation and patent discrimination that has deprived our people of the fruits of our liberty, our rights and the vast benefits of participating in our constituted Republican Form of Government. The People of Puerto Rico deserve no less than the full recognition of their inalienable rights. Only statehood can guarantee said objective and that is precisely what our people are demanding Statehood now!

For purposes of efficiency, we will adapt by reference a letter that was sent by Mr. Alfredo Castellanos, Esq., in his individual capacity, on June 20, 2013, to the Hon. Senator Wyden and members of this Committee, addressing important legal and historical points that should serve to clarify to this committee why the people of Puerto Rico will not settle for any other resolution of our current political status other than Statehood! (Attached please find a copy of the same as exhibit A). That is how our Founding Fathers envisioned
the future of all organized territories, and that is how the people of Puerto Rico, given the proper orientation by Congress, desire it: Equality of law and equal footing, as a member state under one Constitution, nothing more, nothing less.

To merely consider the possibility of provoking an act of secession by American citizens who reside in an organized territory, and in our opinion, by implication, an incorporated territory of the Union is repugnant to our Constitutional Order. The above would only serve to illustrate that our Nation is incapable of self-government within the confines of a permanent union of citizens. Our organization repudiates any efforts that may be considered by the Congress to destroy the fruits of the Civil War and President’s Abraham Lincolns’ vision of a new birth of freedom, for all citizens, ex-slaves, free slaves, blacks, Asians and, yes, even Hispanics, among others ethnics groups; freedom and liberty rights that belong to all Americans.

As Mr. Castellanos stated in his communication, the “Insular Cases” and the incorporated and unincorporated territories that arose from the Supreme Court during the era when our Nation, erroneously, believed in a racial segregation, Jim Crow Laws, and refused to acknowledge equal protection of the law to all persons, are relics of the past that serves no purpose for defining the options that the People of Puerto Rico have as to our political future.

Independence is not an option; eternal colonialism is not an option; only statehood was designed to culminate the process of political integration in a Union where we in Puerto Rico, through the enactments of the Governor Electoral Act of 1947, have enjoyed all the privileges and the immunities of citizenship, as if Puerto Rico were a State of the Union. In fact, it is indeed worth mentioning that our territory is the only organized territory outside the continental United States where Congress has opted to create an Article III Federal District Court, treating Puerto Rico as a State of the Union.

It is indeed far too late to move the clock back 115 years and pretend that we are somehow an unorganized incorporated territory just beginning our territorial political experiment. That is simply not acceptable to the people of Puerto Rico and I am certain that the vast majority of our fellow citizens in the Union support the same point of view.

In 2013, we are also a Nation full of Hispanics and Hispanic history and traditions. Cultural considerations were never a part of our founding fathers original concerns about the evolution and growth of our Republic (other than, with very minimal exceptions, matters that pertained to the institution of slavery and the rights of Native American Indians), and they should bear no relevance whatsoever to the cause and struggle of the People of Puerto Rico for the recognition of our full political rights and our willingness to assume our individual and collective responsibilities as citizens of our Union. The People of Puerto Rico are ready to join our Union as equal partners with our member States without any further delay.

We thank this Committee for devoting time and consideration to both the situation of Puerto Rico and the present communication.


___________________________________________ __________________________________________
Alfredo Castellanos Dr. Hernán Padilla
Counsel for Igualdad President of Igualdad
cc:/ Hon. Ron Wyden
Hon. Pedro Pierluisi

Comments are closed.