Luis GutiƩrrezU.S. Representative
[D] Illinois, United States

Length: 5 minutes, 11 seconds

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Mr. GUTIERREZ. Mr. Chairman, first, before I begin, and I do not know if we can do something, but I figure with the will and the ability and the knowledge that the gentleman of New York (Mr. Solomon) has, and the gentleman of California (Mr. Miller) has, and the goodwill, that we can figure some way, because they keep referring to all of these amendments as mine when, indeed, Mr. Chairman, I just want to make it clear for the record that every last amendment is a Gutierrez-Velazquez amendment.

Apparently, we did not do the right thing when we introduced them, but if somehow along the way that could be clarified, I think that is very important, because the gentlewoman from New York and I are working together on each one of these amendments.

I rise to offer my amendment to section 2 of the bill, the findings section. My amendment adds language to the bill to clarify that Puerto Rico is, instead, a nation.

I offer this amendment because I think it is very important that both the people of Puerto Rico and the people of the United States understand clearly what the United States Congress is doing in relation to the people of Puerto Rico.

The people of Puerto Rico consider themselves a nation. I think that should be made abundantly clear to all the Members of this House. They consider themselves a nation, a separate and distinct people.

They love their American citizenship. Some of my colleagues say that is a contradiction. That is the contradiction we get with colonialism. It is not their contradiction. It is a contradiction that we have. But everyone should understand that.

They love their American citizenship. But yet if you ask them, where are you from, they say Puerto Rico, not in the same sense that maybe the Chairman, when you say where are you from, and he would say from Florida, or I might say from someplace, or the gentleman from New York (Mr. Solomon) might say from New York, from the Empire State of New York.

No, I suggest to all of my colleagues, if they go to a Puerto Rican Day celebration anywhere in the United States of the America, in the United States of America, you have what you have, and it is the reality. If we walk up to those people and they are celebrating their nationality, and you say what are you, they say I am Puerto Rican. What are you? They say, I am Puerto Rican. That is the way they feel.

Then if you ask them, what are you a citizen of? They say the United States of America. That is the distinct difference that we must understand. That is why I must offer this amendment so that people understand it is not another territory. It is not another group of people. It is not. It is very different and distinct.

I think we should remind ourselves of that as we proceed with these deliberations. The people of Puerto Rico have an ethnicity, have a language, have a culture. Excuse me, strike the word ethnicity, have an idiosyncracy of their own.

There are words in Spanish--(The gentleman from Illinois spoke in Spanish). I mean, if you are from Mexico or Colombia or from Cuba, they say you are from Puerto Rico--(The gentleman from Illinois spoke in Spanish). That is the way it works, because those, indeed, are from here.

We may wish, as my mother many times said--(The gentleman from Illinois spoke in Spanish), which means you may wish to hide yourself from the skies with your hand, but you cannot.

The fact is that Puerto Rico is a nation, and we should recognize this here in this bill. It is a nation of people who are citizens of the United States.

Remember something. President Clinton said, oh, but in America, we have people from Poland, and they are Polish Americans. We have people from Ireland, and they are Irish Americans. We have people from Germany, and they are German American, and on, and on, and on. He said, we all blend here together in the United States of America. That is true.

The difference is, I would say to President Clinton, there is a Germany, a Poland, and an Ireland. When you make Puerto Rico a State, is there a Puerto Rico as a State or as a nation? Let us understand this is different. All of those people came here as immigrants to this country with the intent of staying here forever. The people of Puerto Rico want to have a special relationship with this Nation. Let us try to see if we cannot do that and achieve that together. I end my comments with that.