THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
December 23, 2000
December 23, 2000
MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES
SUBJECT: Resolution of Puerto Rico's Status
Although Puerto Rico was acquired in connection with the Spanish-American
War and United States citizenship is granted to persons born on the
islands, Puerto Rico's ultimate status has not been determined. Until that
issue is resolved, questions remain about how United States economic and
social policies should apply to the citizens of Puerto Rico.
Further, although our citizens in Puerto Rico have been granted the
exercise of authority on local matters similar to that of citizens of a
State, they do not have voting representation in the Federal Government.
All three of Puerto Rico?s major political parties are based on different
visions of what the options for a fully democratic status are, and what the
best status would be. And all advocate a substantial change in the
islands? status. The Commonwealth held a referendum on options for its
future status in December 1998, including the current governing
arrangement, and other recognized options, but a majority of the vote was
for a "None of the Above" column.
Much of the debate on the issue concerns what options are available to
Puerto Rico, in light of the Constitution and the basic laws and policies
of the United States. The elected representatives of the people of Puerto
Rico have, therefore, repeatedly petitioned the Federal Government to
clarify the islands? status options as well as the process by which Puerto
Ricans can determine the islands? future status.
The United States has a responsibility to answer such questions.
Successive Presidents, and the Congress in 1998, have supported the people
of Puerto Rico in determining their status preference from among options
that are not incompatible with the Constitu-tion and basic laws and
policies of the United States. I have made it the policy of the executive
branch to work with the leaders of the Commonwealth and the Congress to
Puerto Ricans to choose their future status. We also have the
responsibility to help Puerto Ricans obtain the necessary transitional
legislation toward a new status, if chosen.
To ensure that the Federal Government continues to address the fundamental
question concerning the islands until it is resolved, by the authority
vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United
States of America, including Public Law 106-346, I have today issued an
Executive Order establishing the President?s Task Force on Puerto Rico?s
Status (President?s Task Force) and further direct as follows:
1. The Co-Chairs of the President?s Task Force shall conduct an ongoing
dialogue with the Governor and Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico,
Puerto Rico?s major political parties and other groups that advocate a
change in the islands? status, and the Chairs and Ranking Minority
Members of the House of Representatives Committee on Resources and the
Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. This dialogue shall
focus on the options for Puerto Rico?s future status and the process
by which Puerto Ricans can realize such an option. It shall seek to
facilitate communications among the offices that the aforementioned
officials repre-sent on matters relating to the status of the
Commonwealth, and ensure official attention to, and facilitate action
on, such matters. In particular, the dialogue shall seek to clarify
the options for Puerto Rico?s future status and enable Puerto Ricans
to choose among those options.
2. The Co-Chairs of the President's Task Force shall monitor the
expenditure of funds for public education on and a public choice among
Puerto Rico?s status options pursuant to Public Law 106-346. This
moni-toring shall include ensuring that educational materials are
accurate, objective, and nonpartisan and that they are consistent with
the standards set forth in the Executive Order entitled "Establishment
of the President?s Task Force on Puerto Rico?s Status."
3. The heads of executive departments and agencies shall cooperate with
the Co-Chairs in fulfilling the assignments provided for herein and in
the accompanying Executive Order.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
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