City, state politicians join push for self-determination of Puerto Rico

Chicago aldermen, several state senators support federal legislation to let Puerto Rico decide statehood, independence, free association or other alternatives.

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Ald. Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez (33rd)

Ald. Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez (33rd) is one of the local elected officials advocating for the self-determination of Puerto Rico.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

Ald. Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez on Monday recalled growing up in Puerto Rico. As a 6 year old, she and her family had to go to a Naval base to get water.

“That’s what colonialism looks like,” Rodriguez-Sanchez, the 33rd Ward alderman, said during a news conference. “The absolute inability to be able to control our own lives, to have control over our own resources.”

Rodriguez-Sanchez was among several local elected officials standing in solidarity with colleagues on the national level working to push a bill through Congress that would bring self-determination — the process of determining territorial status, statehood or other outcomes— to Puerto Rico.

HR 2070, a bill introduced by Reps. Nydia Velázquez, D-N.Y., and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez D-N.Y., would allow Puerto Rico to determine its future arrangement beyond its current territorial status — whether that be statehood, independence, free association or other alternatives. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., introduced the measure in the Senate.

Illinois state Sens. Omar Aquino and Christina Pacione-Zayas passed a resolution on behalf of the state of Illinois supporting the effort.

U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a Chicago Democrat, has signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill with Velázquez and Ocasio-Cortez.

“I look forward to working alongside members of the Puerto Rican diaspora to ensure our brothers and sisters on the island can determine their own culture, identity and destiny,” Garcia said.

State Rep. Delia Ramirez described her 4th House District as “the heart of Puerto Ricans in Chicago.”

“The self-determination of Puerto Ricans is the self-determination of all of us,” Ramirez said. “It’s so critical that we continue to push forward and say ‘Until Puerto Rico is free, none of us are free.’”

Other aldermen supporting the bill are Roberto Maldonado (26th), Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) and Michael Rodriguez (22nd).

Maldonado said he plans to introduce a City Council resolution on Wednesday advocating for Puerto Rico’s self-determination.

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