Mass pols leading push for Puerto Rico self-determination

Puerto Rican leaders and their allies, like US Rep. Ayanna Pressley, voiced support last Thursday for federal legislation that would allow the island territory to decide its future status as a state or something else, and urged state and local governments to join them.

Pressley joined two Puerto Rican state lawmakers and members of the Boricua Solidarity Movement to press for passage of the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2021, which calls for the creation of a status convention made of delegates elected by Puerto Rican voters to chart the island’s future.

The delegates would work to come up with a plan for statehood, independence, free association, or some other option, and the plan would be submitted for a binding vote by the people of Puerto Rico. The bill was filed by Reps. Nydia Velázquez and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, both of New York, and Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey.

“It would give the people, not Congress, the ultimate decision of the political future of the island,” Pressley said.

Massachusetts is home to the fifth largest population of Puerto Ricans in the United States outside of the territory, with a population of more than 300,000 that has grown 60 percent since 2000.