On Nov. 6, 2012, the Gov­ern­ment of Puer­to Rico held a two-part plebiscite in which 54 per­cent of the vot­ers reject­ed con­tin­u­ing under the present ter­ri­to­r­i­al colo­nial sta­tus known as The Com­mon­wealth of Puer­to Rico. Vot­ers were giv­en the option of select­ing among one of the three alleged­ly con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly viable non-ter­ri­to­r­i­al options and 61 per­cent vot­ed in favor of Statehood.

In 2014 Con­gress approved a $ 2.5 mil­lion appro­pri­a­tion des­tined for the Gov­ern­ment of Puer­to Rico to con­duct a gov­ern­ment edu­ca­tion­al cam­paign in order to make viable a fair, trans­par­ent, and inclu­sive future plebiscite in line with the results of the pre­vi­ous Novem­ber 2012 results.

Dur­ing the last four years of Pop­u­lar Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty (PDP) rule, the gov­ern­ment – which favors the present ter­ri­to­r­i­al sta­tus quo – took no action on such a plebiscite. The rea­son for this inac­tion is the deep inter­nal divi­sion of the PDP regard­ing the way the present colo­nial sta­tus should evolve. Some pro­pose mov­ing towards an “Enhanced Com­mon­wealth” incon­sis­tent with the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion. Oth­ers pro­pose a Free-Asso­ci­at­ed State for Puer­to Rico such as the Fed­er­at­ed States of Microne­sia (FSM), the Repub­lic of the Mar­shall Islands (RMI), and the Repub­lic of Palau. Their inac­tion has been a way of encour­ag­ing the per­pet­u­a­tion of an immoral and eco­nom­i­cal­ly bank­rupt ter­ri­to­r­i­al sta­tus against the demo­c­ra­t­ic will of the major­i­ty of the peo­ple that have for­mal­ly with­drawn their con­sent to being gov­erned under the present sta­tus, and have expressed pref­er­ence for state­hood over all oth­er con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly viable options.

On Nov. 8, 2016, the ‑pro-state­hood-New Pro­gres­sive Par­ty (NPP) pre­vailed in Puer­to Rico’s gen­er­al elec­tion, win­ning the gov­er­nor­ship and both the Sen­ate and the House of Representatives.

On Feb. 3, 2017, the Puer­to Rico leg­is­la­ture approved a bill and the gov­er­nor signed it into law, to hold a plebiscite on June 11, 2017 for the Imme­di­ate Decol­o­niza­tion of Puer­to Rico. There will be two options to choose from on the plebiscite bal­lot: state­hood or free asso­ci­at­ed state/independence.

As it was to be expect­ed, mem­bers of the PDP seek­ing to derail the bill insist­ed that a choice between state­hood and free asso­ci­at­ed state/independence, would dis­en­fran­chise those vot­ers who pre­fer the colo­nial and Ter­ri­to­r­i­al “Com­mon­wealth” option. This in spite of the fact that the present “Com­mon­wealth sta­tus ” was reject­ed by the major­i­ty of our vot­ers as a colo­nial sta­tus and an Enhanced Com­mon­wealth has been con­sis­tent­ly labeled by the three branch­es of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment as uncon­sti­tu­tion­al, unre­al­is­tic, and an unat­tain­able myth.

The PPD minor­i­ty in the House and Sen­ate even pro­posed “None of the Above” as an alter­na­tive, but even that sense­less option failed and was reject­ed by the Puer­to Rico Leg­is­la­ture. The bill for the June 2017 plebiscite was approved and signed into law.

The U.S. law pro­vid­ing the fund­ing for the plebiscite requires approval of all options on the bal­lot by the U.S. Attor­ney Gen­er­al. In yet anoth­er effort to derail the plebiscite, the PPD intends to lob­by the incom­ing Attor­ney Gen­er­al Jeff Sessions’s office to insist on hav­ing the Com­mon­wealth option on the plebiscite bal­lot in spite of it being a colo­nial sta­tus option reject­ed by the Peo­ple of Puer­to Rico and the objec­tive of the plebiscite is to do away with the present colo­nial status.

I wish to respect­ful­ly remind the Office of the Attor­ney Gen­er­al of the his­toric lan­guage regard­ing Puer­to Rico which forms part of the 2016 Repub­li­can Par­ty’s polit­i­cal platform:

“We sup­port the right of the Unit­ed States cit­i­zens of Puer­to Rico to be admit­ted to the Union as a ful­ly sov­er­eign state. We fur­ther rec­og­nize the his­toric sig­nif­i­cance of the 2012 local ref­er­en­dum in which a 54% major­i­ty vot­ed to end Puer­to Rico’s cur­rent sta­tus as a U.S. ter­ri­to­ry, and 61% chose state­hood over options for sov­er­eign nation­hood. We sup­port the fed­er­al­ly spon­sored polit­i­cal sta­tus ref­er­en­dum autho­rized and fund­ed by an Act of Con­gress in 2014 to ascer­tain the aspi­ra­tions of the peo­ple of Puer­to Rico. If the 2012 local vote for state­hood is rat­i­fied, Con­gress should approve an enabling act with terms for Puer­to Rico’s future admis­sion as the Fifty-First State of the Union.”

We are ready to rat­i­fy the 2012 local ref­er­en­dum and defin­i­tive­ly choose state­hood as the only option for our ulti­mate polit­i­cal status.

Five cen­turies as a colony is enough. Puer­to Rico does not deserve this unfair and moral­ly rep­re­hen­si­ble treat­ment con­tin­u­al­ly sup­port­ed by the Pop­u­lar Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty. We are cer­tain that the Attor­ney Gen­er­al and the Depart­ment of Jus­tice will act accordingly.

José M. Sal­daña, DMD is for­mer Pres­i­dent of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Puer­to Rico.