February 16th, 2011
Hon. Luis Gutierrez
2266 Rayburn House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Congressman Gutierrez,
Today, you stood up to denounce the Government of Puerto Rico and its response to violent student protests. You also used the opportunity to address resting issues such as the Puerto Rico Bar Association and the elimination of its compulsory membership fees. You are widely regarded as a fearless champion for causes such as immigration reform, where I must admit that I stand with you. In fact, I stand with you on nearly every single controversial issue.
However, it troubles me that you insist on venturing into issues pertaining to Puerto Rico and the state of affairs there. As a member of Congress, you have consistently spoken against the people of Puerto Rico, rather than with them. You have opposed the government they elected, the political status option they prefer, and today you seemed appalled that its highest court would refuse to acknowledge a fictional right to strike.
As you spoke next to a large portrait of one of our most distinguished jurists, you spewed gross misinformation about the ongoing student protests in the University of Puerto Rico. For one, you said the right to free speech was being abridged. I would ask you to say whether the right to destroy public and private property has ever been gathered from the First Amendment. Maybe there is a United States Supreme Court ruling that protects the right to attack police officers. I am certainly not a constitutional expert, at least not yet, but I do not believe those rights are there. Neither is the student body’s right to strike in our Constitution or the U.S. Constitution. I do not believe there is a single state in the Union that acknowledges that right.
Since you are so concerned about the protection of the First Amendment, there is one U.S. Supreme Court decision that I think is very relevant to your argument. In Keller v. State Bar of California(1990), the Court voted unanimously to oppose the use of a state bar’s collected dues to finance its political and ideological activities. As far as I know, the State Bar of California is far from dismantled. Again, I fail to see how the Government of Puerto Rico acted in a way that was so anathema to the laws and rights guaranteed by our great nation.
I know you care about my Island as much as I do; that you only want what’s best for its people. Therefore, it would be negligent of me to miss this opportunity to make an all-too-familiar appeal. Stop obstructing Puerto Rico’s self-determination and allow us to vote on our political status. And if we choose statehood, please stand aside and allow us to enjoy the rights you so fiercely demanded in your speech today.
Eduardo J. Soto
The Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association