Puerto Rico Governor Luis G. Fortuño today announced legislation that will enable the people of Puerto Rico to determine whether or not they want to change the island’s current status as a U.S. territory.
“We must enable our citizens to resolve the most important and transcendental issue in Puerto Rico’s history, the island’s political status,” said the Governor. “The island’s status is an issue that affects every aspect of our daily lives, including employment opportunities, health services, public safety, our children’s education and our very rights as citizens.”
The status referendum bill Gov. Fortuño will file tomorrow in the Puerto Rico legislature will provide for a two-step process, starting with an initial up or down vote on Aug., 12, 2012, on whether or not voters want to change the island’s current territorial status. If a majority votes in favor of maintaining the current status, there will be no further action.
If a majority votes for a change, however, on Election Day 2012 (Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012), people will vote on their preference among Puerto Rico’s three non-territorial status options: statehood, independence or sovereign free association, Fortuño said.
As promised in Fortuño’s 2008 electoral platform, the Governor and the island’s sole elected representative in the U.S. Congress, Pedro Pierluisi, initially pushed in 2009 and 2010 for Congress to set into motion a fair process for resolving the island’s political status. The Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2009, introduced by Pierluisi, was passed in 2010 by a strong majority of the U.S. House of Representatives, but was not voted upon by the U.S. Senate.