Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls-out Kimberly Guilfoyle’s ignorance, highlights the Puerto Rican struggle
While not embraced by all for its tactics, a new bill would let Puerto Rico determine its own future.
The first night of the Republican National Convention was eventful, filled with many noteworthy moments, some bizarre, but one in particular didn’t sit right with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) for its ignorance.
Kimberly Guilfoyle, who calls herself a “proud Latina” touted her “immigrant experience” on the RNC stage, saying that she feels compelled to protect the American Dream in memory of her parents.
The problem here, as AOC and so many others pointed out, is that Guilfoyle’s Puerto Rican mother is, in fact, not an immigrant.
“Boricuas we are not claiming her until she learns her own history!” tweeted Philadelphia Councilmember María Quiñones-Sánchez. “Not even after that! Carajo.”
Boricuas we are not claiming her until she learns her own history! Not even after that! Carajo. https://t.co/eeY5x6Lxwx
— Maria Quinones-Sanchez (@MariaQSanchez) August 25, 2020
While her father is an immigrant who came to the United States from Ireland in the 1950s, Guilfoyle’s mother was born a U.S. citizen. The Jones-Shafroth Act passed in 1917, granting citizenship status to all Puerto Ricans born after April 25, 1898.
“The woman the GOP picked as their “proud” Latina to tout “immigrant experience” didn’t seem to know that Puerto Rico is already part of the United States,” wrote AOC.
“It’s quite on message, [because] it reflects their belief that Latinos aren’t real citizens, even when we are Native descendants,” she continued.
Here, AOC brings up an entire conversation that can be had about Puerto Rico, on colonization, and sovereignty, and statehood. An issue that coincidentally, was addressed the next day, on Aug. 25, when AOC and Rep. Nydia Velazauez (D-NY) released their plans for the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2020.
“The people of Puerto Rico have the right to determine their own destiny,” Rep. Velazquez wrote on Twitter.
“Today I’ve introduced legislation with Rep. AOC that would empower the Island to design their own future through a constitutional convention mechanism,” Velazquez continued.
The people of #PuertoRico have the right to determine their own destiny.
Today I've introduced legislation with @RepAOC that would empower the Island to design their own future through a constitutional convention mechanism.
Read more: https://t.co/jWe9WMOp1I
— Rep. Nydia Velazquez (@NydiaVelazquez) August 25, 2020
“Puerto Rico needs to be afforded the freedom to design its own future,” the reps wrote while introducing the Act. “That’s why the two of us, both members of Congress of Puerto Rican descent, have introduced the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act. The legislation that would prompt Puerto Rico’s Legislature to create a Status Convention whose delegates would be elected by Puerto Rican voters.”
But there are two sides to this argument.
The act has divided Puerto Rican members — and soon-to-be members of Congress, over how to approach a vote on Puerto Rico’s status as a U.S. Territory.
Fellow Puerto Rican Rep. José Serrano (D-NY) criticized AOC and Velázquez, writing that their proposal would lead to a "closed doors" approach to determine Puerto Rico’s future.
"I believe that all Puerto Ricans should help determine the future of the island- not just a few. Changing Puerto Rico’s status (a career goal of mine) is too important to be left behind closed doors- all Puerto Ricans should have a say," Serrano wrote.
Ritchie Torres, a history-making New York City Councilmember who has all-but secured his congressional seat to replace Serrano voiced his support of his predecessor’s stance. Torres is half Puerto Rican, on his father’s side.
"Wise words from a public servant of incomparable integrity. I am honored to continue your tradition of advocating for true self-determination through direct elections. All Puerto Ricans, not simply party insiders, should have a voice and a vote!" Torres wrote.
Wise words from a public servant of incomparable integrity. I am honored to continue your tradition of advocating for true self-determination through direct elections. All Puerto Ricans, not simply party insiders, should have a voice and a vote! https://t.co/rrE8sozFjr
— Ritchie Torres (@RitchieTorres) August 26, 2020
The spat signals there is work needed in terms of unity with Puerto Rican congress members in order to reach a system that isn’t conducted behind “closed doors,” as Serrano suggests, but still pushes for Puerto Rico’s self-determination.
If anything, it has sparked a debate and made Puerto Rico’s struggle more visible at a time when the RNC could have had the capacity to misinform masses on immigration, and what the American Dream really is.
Kimberly Guilfoyle, while ill-informed, was in fact the first spark in getting Puerto Rico to trend in the hours before AOC and Velazquez released their bill. The next step is reaching an adequate solution for the island’s status.