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http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2011/06/14/Obama-pledges-support-for-Puerto-Rico/UPI-74581308072283/?spt=hts&or=3  (bolding added)

 

Obama pledges support for Puerto Rico

Published: June 14, 2011 at 10:21 PM

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, June 14 (UPI) -- Thousands greeted President Barack Obama in the streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday in the first visit by a sitting U.S. president in 50 years.

Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory with full rights of citizenship except for voting for president, is considering whether to reconsider its status and become a U.S. state.

In remarks delivered on arrival at Muniz Air National Guard Base shortly after arriving aboard Air Force One on a flight from Miami, Obama said his administration would support whatever Puerto Ricans decide.

During a motorcade to the governor's mansion, built in 1533 and the oldest executive mansion in the Western Hemisphere, Obama encountered side-by-side photos of himself and former President John F. Kennedy, the last U.S. president to visit the island, and signs reading "1961," "2011," "We are proud to be part of history" and "Statehood now."

"I am so grateful for the unbelievable reception," Obama said in his airport remarks. "As you know, the last president to come to San Juan and address the people of Puerto Rico was John F. Kennedy, nearly 50 years ago. Now, at the time, I was about 4 months old -- so my memory of this visit is a little hazy. What I do remember is that when I came here to campaign, I promised that I would return as president of the United States. And although my hair is a little grayer than during my first visit, I am glad to be able to keep that promise to the people of Puerto Rico."

Obama noted a presidential task force has completed its report on Puerto Rico's status, providing "a meaningful way forward … so that the residents of the island can determine their own future. And when the people of Puerto Rico make a clear decision, my administration will stand by you."

Obama pledged to give Puerto Rico the help it needs to educate its children and provide jobs for its residents.

"Puerto Rico, I don't need to tell you that we're not there yet. We're not where we need to be. But in these challenging times, people on this island don't quit. We don't turn back," Obama said. "People in America don't quit. We don't turn back. We place our bets on entrepreneurs and on workers and on our families. We understand that there is strength in our diversity. We renew the American Dream. We have done it before. We will do it again."

Later, Obama lunched with Puerto Rican Sen. Alejandro Garcia Padilla at a small restaurant, ordering a sandwich called a Medianoche, and paid for lunch for himself, White House adviser Valerie Jarrett and presidential friend Eric Whitaker with a few $20 bills, telling the cashier to "keep the change."

Afterward it was on to the Caribe Hilton hotel in Puerto Rico where the president spoke at a fundraiser. A Democratic source said 70 people attended the event where tickets started at $10,000 apiece.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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http://dcist.com/2011/06/obama_supports_statehood_and_self-d.php

Obama Supports Statehood and Self-Determination

In recent months, President Barack Obama has quietly endorsed a path forward for self-determination and statehood. In a report produced by a White House task force earlier this year, Obama wrote, "I am committed to working with Congress to ensure that a fair, clearly defined, and transparent process for the people...to decide on their future for themselves."

Great news, right? Yeah. For Puerto Rico.

Today, Obama became the first president since John F. Kennedy, Jr. to visit the Caribbean island, taking time upon landing to argue that Puerto Ricans should eventually be able to determine whether to remain a commonwealth of the U.S., become the 51st state or move towards full-fledged independence.

Obama's remarks echoed the conclusions of a March report published by the Presidential Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status, which stated that Puerto Ricans should be able to vote on their status by mid-2012. The taskforce -- which was created by President Clinton in 2000 -- came to roughly the same conclusion in reports published in 2005 and 2007, the latter of which noted that the "democratic will of the Puerto Rican people is paramount for determining the future status of the territory."

Well, this is just a kick in the face, isn't it? We've been screaming and crying since Obama was elected just to get a license plate on his limo that recognizes the city's plight, but the best we've gotten is some lip servicefollowed by a brazen sell-out during negotiations over the federal budget. Puerto Rico, on the other hand, gets a 122-page report on its status and a fast-track to democratically resolving it.

We're happy for our Caribbean brothers and sisters, of course -- but a little peeved at the same time that the District's own second-class status doesn't seem to merit the same amount of attention. At this point, even calling ourselves second-class seems a little kind, doesn't it?

So, how about a Presidential Task Force on the District's Status, President Obama? And next time you come here for a visit, maybe you can tell us how excited you are for District residents to be able to vote on whether to remain a federal colony or become a new state?

Gracias.

By Martin Austermuhle in News on June 14, 2011 4:15 PM

 
Home Puerto Rico President Obama on Puerto Rico

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