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Philadelphia City Council recognized Puerto Rico's right to self-determination in its first legislative session back in 2021. Photos: Getty Images (Left), AL DÍA News (Right)
Philadelphia City Council recognized Puerto Rico's right to self-determination in its first legislative session back in 2021. Photos: Getty Images (Left), AL DÍA News (Right)

Philadelphia City Council supports Puerto Rico’s Right to self-determination in historic recognition

The resolution was first introduced by Councilmember María Quiñones-Sánchez on Dec. 10, 2020.

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Back on Aug. 25, 2020, U.S. Reps Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Nydia Velázquez introduced HR 8113, otherwise known as the Puerto Rico Self Determination Act of 2020. 

The bill, which ruffled some feathers in the pro-statehood camp of Puerto Rican politics and divided Puerto Rican members of Congress, would prompt the Puerto Rican legislature to create a Status Convention with delegates elected by Puerto Rican voters to determine its future.

By doing so, Velázquez and Ocasio-Cortez argued that it is allowing the people of Puerto Rico to determine its own destiny.

“Puerto Rico needs to be afforded the freedom to design its own future,” wrote both representatives while introducing the act.

Other Puerto Rican reps in Congress like then-New York Representative José Serrano and his replacement, Ritchie Torres, came out against the measure, arguing the structure would cause the future of the island to be determined behind “closed doors,” and not in view of all Puerto Ricans like intended.

“All Puerto Ricans, not simply party insiders should have a voice and a vote!” Torres tweeted at the time.

But backlash wasn’t the only response, and in Philadelphia, City Councilmember María Quiñones-Sánchez supported the measure from day one.

She went as far to introduce a resolution in Philadelphia City Council, calling on Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation to support the Puerto Rico Self Determination Act — a historic resolution of its kind in the country on a municipal level

It was co-sponsored by Councilmembers Katherine Gilmore Richardson, Derek Green, Isaiah Thomas, Curtis Jones Jr., Helen Gym, Mark Squilla, Cherelle Parker, Cindy Bass, Allan Domb and Jamie Gauthier.

Outside of City Council’s chambers, the resolution was also backed by Philly Boricuas, one of Philadelphia’s most impactful Latino community organizations of the past five years.

When the resolution to support HR 8113 passed City Council in its first legislative session of 2021, Quiñones-Sánchez thanked members of the organization for their efforts, and pointed to future discussions with PA members of Congress as the next step.

On the island, under new Governor Pedro Pierluisi, there is a promise he will push U.S. Congress to discuss statehood. Given the Democrat-controlled Congress, there is also hope for the future of the discussion.

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