Letters to the Editor

Statehood for Puerto Rico means real representation

The Feb. 6 online article “How Puerto Rico failed to influence its biggest advocates in Washington” is misleading.

Throughout 2017, Gov. Rosselló and the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) frequently influenced major pieces of legislation despite structural impediments to the fair treatment of Puerto Rico. In May, PRFAA secured the inclusion of $296 million in the FY 2017 Omnibus spending package for the island’s Medicaid program. This funding helped stabilize the program in the short-term and provided certainty to more than 600,000 recipients.

More recently, Gov. Rosselló and his team successfully influenced HR 601, resulting in $1.5 billion in disaster relief aid to the island. Finally, Gov. Rosselló and PRFAA were directly responsible for the inclusion of $6.2 billion in food aid and disaster funding for the island in HR 2266, which was signed into law on Oct. 26.

Understanding that tax reform was a top priority of the Republican administration, PRFAA began the process of establishing its tax position. PRFAA’s unyielding principles centered upon any tax legislation, including the preservation of longstanding support for local rum producers; the deduction for local manufacturers; the child tax credit; and provisions that have supported Puerto Rico’s competitiveness in manufacturing against low-tax foreign venues.

Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, yet cannot exercise the right to vote in presidential elections and lack voting representation in Congress. The Rosselló administration’s push for equality through statehood aims to give the island an active role in all legislation and finally grant Puerto Ricans full rights as citizens.

We still need Congress to approve real disaster relief and fix problems that resulted from the recently enacted tax bill. but petty sniping by Beltway insiders won’t deliver the support so many Puerto Ricans desperately need.

Carlos Mercader,

executive director,

Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration