Friday, January 07, 2011

Guam loses Congress vote


* Constitutionality of delegate voting rights raised

Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo is joined by Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio and her granddaughter, Nicole Bordallo Nelson during her swearing-in ceremony in the 112th Congress. Contributed photo

Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo yesterday took her oath of office in the 112th Congress during a ceremony led by Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio.

But even as Bordallo was sworn in, the new Republican majority in the House worked to terminate the “symbolic” voting rights that Guam and other insular areas enjoyed in the previous Democrat-controlled Congress.

Bordallo, joined her colleagues from the District of Columbia, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in opposing the passage of H. Res. 5, the rules governing operations of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 112th Congress.

Over the past several weeks, Republican leaders crafted a rules package during the House Republican Conference that, among other provisions, would rescind the ability of delegates to cast symbolic votes on the floor during Committee of the Whole proceedings.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia was joined on the House floor by Bordallo, Congressman Eni Faleomavaega of American Samoa, Congresswoman Donna Christensen of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Congressman Pedro Pierluisi of Puerto Rico, and Congressman Kilili Sablan of the CNMI as she made a motion to refer the rules package to a committee that would investigate the constitutionality of delegate voting rights.

Congresswoman Norton's motion was put on hold, by a vote of 225 yes votes to 188 no votes. H. Res. 5 eventually passed last evening by a vote of 240 yes votes to 191 no votes thus depriving the Delegates and Resident Representative from the right to vote in Committee of the Whole.

Delegates were first granted voting privileges in 1993 under the leadership of Speaker of the House Tom Foley of Washington in the 103rd Congress. The Republican majority removed delegate voting privileges in the 104th Congress.

Subsequently, the 110th Congress, under Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, restored those voting rights. This is the second time that the ability of delegates to cast votes has been rescinded.

"The Republican rules package makes this body less transparent and less responsive to the American people," Bordallo said.

"By obligating the Delegates to take public stands, our limited vote showed our constituents where we stood on important issues. Our vote also helped ensure legislation considered by the House took our constituents into account. When an amendment came forward last Congress regarding the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo into the U.S, the territories were initially excluded from the prohibition. Our vote compelled the House to address our concerns. This is precisely how representative democracy is meant to work,” Bordallo said.

“Further, men and women from the territories and the District of Columbia serve and have died for our country in the Armed Forces to protect our way of life. Yet, despite all the rhetoric of restoring democracy to the House of Representatives, the Republicans’ first act is to deny us a basic function of democracy - the right to represent our constituents and vote in the House of Representatives," she added.

As her first legislative act in the 112th Congress, Congresswoman Bordallo re-introduced the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act hours after taking her oath of office.

The Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act was re-introduced as H.R. 44 and is identical to compromise language that was reached during negotiations on H.R. 6523, the Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 (FY11 NDAA).

In the 111th Congress, Guam war claims was removed from the final defense spending bill due to objections by a group of fiscally-conservative Republicans in the U.S. Senate, said Bordallo.

"The fight to bring closure to the issue of Guam war claims continues in the 112th Congress with introduction of the compromise version of H.R. 44.

"The passage of the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act continues to remain my top legislative priority as we begin the 112th Congress.

Introduction of H.R. 44 continues to build on progress and momentum of the legislation in the 111th Congress.”


José M. López Sierra said...

Should criminals be in charge of correcting the wrong they inflicted?

Puerto Ricans vote in elections every 4 years at an 80% level of participation. Puerto Rico has been a colony of the United States (US) government for the past 116 years. If the US government has the final say in what happens in Puerto Rico, what is the purpose of these elections? The purpose is to fool the world that Puerto Rico is a democracy.

The United Nations (UN) declared colonialism a crime against humanity in 1960. The UN has asked the US government 33 times to decolonize Puerto Rico immediately. The US government has refused. It says that Puerto Rico’s political relationship with the United States is none of the UN’s business. The US says that it is a domestic affair.

To appear that the US government wants to decolonize Puerto Rico, it promotes the use of plebiscites to determine what Puerto Ricans want. Doesn’t that sounds innocent and democratic? So what’s the problem?

To begin with, the international community already rendered its verdict and determined that colonialism is illegal. So to have a political status option in a plebiscite that favors maintaining Puerto Rico a colony of the United States is not permitted. To have a political status option of Puerto Rico becoming a state of the United States is also not permitted under international law. The problem goes back to the beginning of this article. In order to have free elections, the country must be free. So before these elections and plebiscite could be valid, Puerto Rico would have to first be an independent nation.

What people must realize is that Puerto Rico is a colony of the US because the US government wants it that way. That is why it has used terrorism to keep it that way. That is why it refuses to release the Puerto Rican political prisoner of 33 years Oscar López Rivera. That is also why it is ridiculous to believe that decolonization is a US internal matter in which the UN has no jurisdiction over. If we allow the US government to decolonize Puerto Rico, she will remain a colony of the United States forever!

José M López Sierra

José M. López Sierra said...

And for Puerto Rico!

The Second Oscar – Mandela March in New York City 2015

We will be having our 2nd Oscar – Mandela Protest March on Monday, June 22, 2015. We will start marching peacefully at 9 AM from Hunter College on East 68th Street and Lexington Avenue, to East 43rd Street and Lexington Avenue. We will then go East (turning left) to end up at the Ralph Bunche Park on First Avenue (across from the United Nations).

We will be at the park until 5 PM. We will be giving out flyers and talking to people about who Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera is. We will also be educating the public about Puerto Rico’s colonial relationship with the government of the United States (US).

Most people don’t know that every year, usually on the Monday after Fathers’ Day, the United Nations holds its hearing about the decolonization of Puerto Rico. The petitioners will usually join our protest after this meeting.

The UN determined in 1960 that colonialism is a crime against humanity. Since then, the UN has issued 33 resolutions asking for the US government to immediately decolonize Puerto Rico. The US government has ignored these resolutions. What kind of democracy is that?

The US government tries to keep these hearings a secret. What we are trying to do is to get them out of the closet. The UN is in its 3rd decade trying to make the world colony-free. Please help us!

Most people also don’t know that the United States government takes out 14 times more money than what it invests in Puerto Rico. But, that is what colonies are for!

This savage exploitation impedes Puerto Rico’s ability to provide opportunities for Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico. That is why there are now more Puerto Ricans living away from Puerto Rico than in their homeland.

Oscar López Rivera has been incarcerated for 34 years for his struggle to decolonize Puerto Rico. Since colonialism is an international crime, international law gives Oscar the right to use whatever means necessary to decolonize his homeland. Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 27 years for doing the same thing as Oscar. This is why we say, Oscar López Rivera is our Nelson Mandela!

United Partners for Puerto Rico Decolonization invites the public to be part of the tsunami of people that will be necessary to make the US government comply with the UN resolutions. These annual protests in Puerto Rico and at the UN are absolutely necessary, because, those who maintain colonies, don’t believe in justice for all!

José M López Sierra