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checks from the United States government, and nobody can take that away from them.
Senator Mcclure. As a matter of fact, what you say is not correct. That is what I am trying to get across to you as my understanding of the social security system, that those people who have paid into the system have a right to receive in the future, based upon the coverage of other workers paying into the system at that time.
I would be very glad to share with Puerto Rico those amounts which remain in the fund which have been contributed by Puerto Ricans, but I will guarantee you there is not much there. That has already been paid out to other workers who receive benefits currently.
Mr. Bras. That is what I am saying. I have not said anything different from what you have admitted. We do not want an extra cent than that which we have contributed.
Senator Mcclure. No, that is not what I said. That is not what I said. I do not mean to prolong this discussion, Mr. Chairman, but I do want to be understood.
The amount of money which has been contributed, which remains in the fund that is the difference. What has been contributed has already been paid out, in main.
Mr. Bras. We would subject that to international arbitration, because you cannot force us to carry the burden of the bad administration that you have on your social security system.
Senator Mcclure. If you will not hear, I cannot make you hear.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman. Thank you, Senator McClure.
Senator Moynihan. Mr. Chairman, I thank our distinguished guest.
The Chairman. Thank you very much, Mr. Mari Bras.
I am sorry we had to cut witnesses off, but I will observe that the two independence witnesses we did allow one full hour for, so we are attempting to be fair. I hope we are. We have gone over our morning session by about an hour, but I ask my colleagues whether they will be willing to come back at 2:00?
Very well. We will resume at 2 p.m.
[Whereupon, at 1 p.m., the committee was recessed, to reconvene at 2 p.m., the same day.]
The Chairman. Ladies and Gentlemen, the hearing will come to order. We resume this afternoon and I would like to have a rule this afternoon that all on this floor should please be seated. I think just about everyone is seated, or is getting seated, but all those except the camera people should be seated on this floor. I think that will make things go easier.
We resume this afternoon with three panels. The first panel is composed of Cabinet personnel from the Administration, made up of the Honorable Sila Calderon, who is Secretary of State, the Honorable Carmen Sonia Zayas, Secretary of Social Services, and the Honorable Miguel A. Domenech, Executive Director of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Tourism Company.
The three panel members please approach their seats, please. Madam Secretary, while the other panel members are approaching their seats, let me congratulate you on this building. I understand this is under your jurisdiction and this is a beautiful, beautiful building. I think you have done a wonderful job.
Would the other two panel members please take their seats? We would like to encourage all panel members this afternoon to attempt to summarize their testimony so that we can have time for questions and answers. We can read statements. I think it is much more profitable if we can have an exchange and have questions and answers, rather than just reading statements. So Madam Secretary, if you will please proceed.
STATEMENT OF HON. SILA M. CALDERON, SECRETARY OF STATE, COMMONWEALTH OF PUERTO RICO
Ms. Calderon. Thank you very kindly.
Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the Committee, my name is Sila Maria Calderon and I appear before you as Secretary of State of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The Secretary of State is the Governor's constitutional successor.
For the benefit of the thousands of Puerto Ricans who are following with great interest these hearings, I would like to address my remarks this afternoon in Spanish. Afterwards, I will be more than happy to answer in English any questions that you may have.
Today, I welcome the opportunity to address the parts of S. 712 that relate to our international interest. The issuance of passports and visas, and the Crown properties within the proposal of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
The most arresting feature of Puerto Rico is its singularity. Because of our history, we have deep cultural ties to the rest of the Spanish-speaking world.
Because of our geographic location we are part of the Caribbean region and as such are greatly interested in its socioeconomic development. Because of our union with the United States through the indissoluble bond of American citizenship, we share a common political destiny.
The singularity of Puerto Rico as a country can perhaps be summed up by describing it as a Caribbean and Latin American community of American citizens. We are proud of our United States citizenship.
We are equally proud of our Hispanic cultural heritage and our Caribbean identity.
These three elements of our political reality afford us splendid opportunities to advance the international interests shared by the United States and Puerto Rico, but just as these elements open up special opportunities they also present practical problems that require practical solutions.
In the context of formal government-to-government agreements, Puerto Rico cannot and will not proceed without the consent of the United States and within their policies. Nevertheless, the absence of a clearly articulated congressional policy on the granting of such consent has resulted in considerable frustration of Puerto Rico's ability to pursue sensible actions that could have been most beneficial to the United States and Puerto Rico.
I would like to mention briefly three concrete examples of difficulties we have found in our efforts to advance the legitimate international aspirations of Puerto Rico. In these particular cases, there was no detriment or negative effect to the United States' foreign policy.
These have been the achievement of a tax agreement with Japan in the context of our fiscal economy: the participation of Puerto Rico on its own behalf in the Ibero American Commission for the Celebration of the Fifth Centennial of the Discovery of America and the third, a preferential trade treatment with Japan and Puerto Rico. I am in the best condition to expand on these topics later on, if the senators so wish.
In the economic aspect, to extend the international role of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico would achieve three objectives: first, to expand the possibilities of economic development of Puerto Rico and it would help to create an economy which is more self-sufficient and less dependent.
Second, it would increase the contribution of Puerto Rico to the development of the Caribbean basin countries, and third would promote the political stability of the Caribbean region.
In the political aspects, our participation on its own behalf of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in international foras in exchange programs and agreements between bodies and specialized organisms would add a new dimension to the common voice, increase the rich diversity of the United States, would strengthen its policies and would open new lines of communications with the rest of this hemisphere and the Hispanic world.
Nevertheless, we could ask why Puerto Rico should have its own international interests which were different from any State of the Union. The answer, again, lies in the unique nature of this country. Puerto Rico is not a state, it is not like a state, and as shown by the history of the last 91 years, it has never developed an overwhelming desire to become a state.
The people of Puerto Rico cherish their ties to the United States. They would not dispense with them. But they would not surrender, either, their national language, culture, or character, nor permit their primacy to be threatened even in the slightest manner.
It is in the interest of the United States as well as that of Puerto Rico that Puerto Rico be able to pursue its international interests in an effective and efficient way. Moreover, an internationally active commonwealth will eliminate any lingering doubt that may be harbored as to the noncolonial nature of our relationship with the United States.
Part of our international role involves inviting distinguished guests to lecture at our universities, to meet with governmental, cultural and educational leaders and to share with us their insights into problems of a varied nature.
On August 1st, 1986, the Immigration and Naturalization Service centralized the processing and issuance of visa applications originating in Puerto Rico at the Regional Adjudication Center for the Eastern Region in Vermont.
Ever since this administrative transfer was put into effect, we have experienced a host of administrative and processing problems. I will not enter into these. They are in my report for the record and they are well known in Puerto Rico.
We understand that similar problems have arisen with respect to temporary visas and the rights of persons when they enter Puerto Rico legally, that may make it difficult as a practical matter to limit entry to Puerto Rico only.
We propose the establishment of an INS office in Puerto Rico that can issue visas. We also propose the establishment of a limited class of temporary short-stay visas for official guests of the Government of Puerto Rico.
These visas would not purport to limit entry to Puerto Rico alone, and would only be issued to individuals from foreign countries other than those specifically excluded by presidential action.
Other critical aspects related to international activities of Puerto Rico, or the travel of Puerto Ricans to the rest of the world. At present, the Puerto Rico Passport Office may only accept passport applications.
Whereas for nearly 50 years the Government of Puerto Rico had the authority to issue United States passports to our citizens in Puerto Rico, this function was fairly recently transferred to the Federal Regional Passport Office in Miami.
In this example, likewise, innumerable problems have arisen of an administrative and processing nature that have caused an unacceptable delay in issuing of passports. These problems are listed in my written paper.
We propose that a United States Passport Office in San Juan be established and we would be prepared to assume the budgetary costs by operating such office. We believe this would respond adequately to problems that we have experienced since this function was moved from Puerto Rico to Miami.
There is a final and very important subject which I would like to address today. I refer to our proposal that certain Crown lands ceded by Spain to the United States under the terms of the Treaty of Paris of 1898 be returned as part of the Puerto Rican people's patrimony. From a historical point of view, these properties are much more significant to Puerto Rico than to the United States.
We appreciate the observation that some of these, like the San Juan Historic Site, are part of the cultural heritage of all United States citizens, those who reside here as well as those on the mainland. But they are part and parcel of Puerto Rico. In the deepest sense, they are part of our very soul, a stately symbol and vibrant reminder of our Hispanic roots and our almost 500-year history.
We are prepared to assume full responsibility for the conservation and maintenance of these properties, as well as to enter into appropriate agreements with the concerned Federal agencies to assure that these precious landmarks are adequately preserved.
In returning these Crown properties to the Puerto Rican people the United States would again be exhibiting the same enlightened attitude it showed when it gave up several sites within the former Pacific Trust Territories. At that time, many citizens, including many Puerto Ricans, fought World War II battles and died in defense of democracy.
The senators' wisdom comes from experience. Commonwealth is an experiment that has succeeded. It offers hope, not only to our people, but to other peoples in the world who may aspire to creative solutions to satisfy their democratic aspirations. It has shown that the search for political stability can, and many times has to be, imaginative.
The Commonwealth relationship has served Puerto Rico well. It has served the United States just as well. The experience of the last 37 years reveals that it can do even better.
The economic development of the Commonwealth can be accelerated. Greater political autonomy within permanent union with the United States can be attained. Puerto Rico can acquire a new and dynamic presence, a stronger voice, in the affairs of this hemisphere, as well as in the global economy.
It is my firm belief that this can best be accomplished through the enhancement of the Commonwealth. To do less would be to miss a historic opportunity to continue improving this unique experiment in expanding the Federal system of government.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Calderon follows:]