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Public Statements

Puerto Rico Democracy Act Of 2009

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman from Washington for yielding.

Mr. Chairman, for 93 years individuals born in Puerto Rico have been U.S. citizens, but Puerto Rico itself has been a Commonwealth. And as neither State nor an independent political entity, it has, as Ronald Reagan once said, an unnatural status. It is part of our country, but not entirely. Separate from our country, but not really.

Ronald Reagan was motivated to support possible statehood for Puerto Rico in part because our communist enemies were at the time exploiting Puerto Rico's status to sow unrest in Latin America by calling for an end to ``Yankee imperialism.'' While the Soviet Union may no longer be with us, Hugo Chavez is attempting to sow the same unrest, calling for an end to U.S. imperialism in Puerto Rico.

Reagan said back in 1980 that we must be ready to demonstrate that ``the American idea can work in Puerto Rico.'' Over the past 2 years, my friend, Governor Luis Fortuno, has worked to do just that. The Governor and others are actively working to increase economic opportunity by reducing the burden the government places on the people, introducing competition and choice to education, lowering taxes, restoring law and order, and defending traditional values.

Listening to these achievements, I am reminded that the great experiment begun by our Founding Fathers is not in its last days, but instead is being constantly renewed as we work to expand what it means to live in a land of opportunity.

Our best export has always been our ideas. And first and foremost amongst those ideas is the promise that limited government based on the consent of the governed that respects the inalienable rights granted by God is the best hope for mankind on Earth. These ideas have also served as a magnet drawing all those who wish for a better life to our shores.

The citizens of Puerto Rico share in this American inheritance. They share in our values and in their belief in the American Dream. The citizens of Puerto Rico deserve the opportunity to speak to their aspirations for the future in a sanctioned plebiscite.

If I were drafting this bill, Mr. Chairman, I would draft it differently. And while this legislation is far from perfect, I am motivated at the end of the day to support it by the belief that America's promise is not finite in terms of space or time.


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