PEDRO Pierluisi, Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner, who acts as the island’s representative to the executive branch and in Congress — where he can vote in committee, though not on the House floor — says that action is needed.
On Nov. 14, he gave a speech on the House floor offering a compelling defense of both the process and the results of the Nov. 6 plebiscite. Mr. Pierluisi, who is pro-statehood, correctly called the island’s current status “colonial in nature” and made a forceful argument against those who would dismiss the election’s outcome. “Some wish to downplay the results of the plebiscite by citing the voters who left the second question blank, but this argument does not withstand scrutiny,” he said. “In our democracy, outcomes are determined by ballots properly cast. Power rests with the citizen who votes, not the one who stays home or refuses to choose from among the options provided.”
I had a long conversation with Mr. Pierluisi the day after he spoke on the House floor. He insists that either Congress or the Obama administration should respect the plebiscite and take action — perhaps by creating another, improved plebiscite that includes both the current commonwealth status as an option, and clearer, fuller explanations of what the alternatives would mean.
He hopes public pressure, including from other Hispanic voters, and possibly international prodding, encourages Congress or the White House to act. “If Congress doesn’t do anything with this,” he told me, “I don’t rule out going to the United Nations or the Organization of American States.” Mr. Pierluisi won’t do so immediately, he said, “because I have to believe in Congress doing its job.”