A Sovereign Commonwealth (ELA Soberano) is possible

After the positions of the federal executive branch and of Congress reaffirming their plenary powers over Puerto Rico, the two decisions of the United States Supreme Court and the approval of PROMESA, for the vast majority of Puerto Ricans who want and believe in a dignifying and not colonial association with the United States, that preserves our national identity, several questions arise: Is it possible to have a Commonwealth (ELA) outside of the scope of the territorial clause, a Sovereign Commonwealth (ELA Soberano)? Is it possible to have a dignified, non colonial, non territorial association relationship with the United States that maintains the common bonds of currency, defense and market, plus the American citizenship? My answer is yes, but we need to teach and educate ourselves and end the fears and myths here and over there.
Today is very different from 1952. Trade barriers have fallen and the free flow of people and goods between countries is becoming more common every day. Let’s look at the reality of these four pillars I mentioned in terms of today.

Common currency / Although with periods of fluctuation, the US dollar continues to be the dominant currency in the world. In fact, there is no United States law that prevents another country from using the dollar as their domestic currency; it’s what’s known in the international community as the “dollarization” of an economy. Countries such as Ecuador and El Salvador have the dollar as their official currency and others, like Panama, whose economy growth has been extraordinary is the past 15 years, use the dollar in place of its currency. So, it’s obvious that in any relationship of dignified association with the United States, there is no impediment to maintain the dollar as the common currency.

Common market / If anything in the world has changed dramatically since 1952 it’s in the creation of large trade blocs that allow the free market of goods and services. The United States was one of the last markets to enter this current, but since the free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, the trend has been to increase its common market agreements. In the case of Puerto Rico, it would not be to promote a change in the existing trade rules, but to maintain and perfect them under the new globalized world. And let’s not forget that Puerto Rico continues to be one of the main markets for American goods, which guarantees that the US corporate sector will ensure that the common market is maintained.

Common defense / The United States has mutual defense agreements with more countries than anyone else. The economic and strategic interests that the United States has in Puerto Rico guarantee that what we have today remains under a dignified relationship of ELA Soberano.

Common citizenship / This is really a topic full of myths and lies, and although I will elaborate a at a later date, today it’s enough to say that it is constitutionally guaranteed that Puerto Ricans cannot be deprived of our American citizenship, even in the extreme case of independence. Under ELA Soberano, maintaining the American citizenship of Puerto Ricans by birth is a matter of mutual benefit and of political will. Professor Samuel Issacharoff in the study he made last year by request of the PPD, concluded that in a relationship of dignified association anything can be agreed on “including the grant of continued rights to U.S. citizenship to any person born in Puerto Rico and full entitlement to American social benefits.” It is a matter of political will.

For all this reasons I affirm that there should be no doubt that we can renegotiate a relationship of dignified association with the United States that preserves the binding values that Puerto Ricans want to maintain, what we must do is begin to work on it without fear.

Published originally in spanish by El Nuevo Día on August 11, 2016
Translated by Gabriela Acevedo Gándara