(House of Representatives - July 12, 2017)

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[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 117 (Wednesday, July 12, 2017)]
[Page H5438]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                           DEMOCRATIC VALUES

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Illinois (Mr. Gutierrez) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. GUTIERREZ. Mr. Speaker, I want to bring to everyone's attention, 
especially my Democratic colleagues, a troubling incident that 
transpired over the recess.
  It is important that people hear about how women and the LGBT 
community are treated at the highest levels of the current Puerto Rican 
government and the values and politics that run deeply throughout the 
politics of statehood for Puerto Rico.
  It is fair to say that in the era of Trump, admitting a Spanish-
speaking Caribbean country as the 51st State would depend on the 
strength of democratic votes, so it is important for my Democratic 
colleagues in particular to understand who the statehooders really are 
and what they really stand for, beyond their rhetoric in Washington, 
  The president of the senate in Puerto Rico, Thomas Rivera Schatz, is 
a key leader of the Statehood Party. In a recent interview on NotiUno 
radio, he was asked about the Financial Oversight and Management Board, 
known as la Junta de Supervision Fiscal. This is the controversial 
board created by Congress a year ago to take over financial and fiscal 
decisions in Puerto Rico and to prioritize the payment of Puerto Rico's 
debt to Wall Street.
  I was one of the chief opponents of the PROMESA legislation that 
created the junta, and I have spoken out against it on numerous 
occasions. But it wasn't what the statehood senate president said about 
the junta that was so offensive; it is how he talked in public about 
one of its board members--in fact, the only woman on the board and an 
appointee nominated by Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in the House.
  Ana Matosantos has impeccable, bipartisan qualifications and also 
happens to be an openly gay woman. So during the interview, the senate 
president and statehood leader referred to Ms. Matosantos as Mr. 
Matosantos, using the masculine pronoun ``senor.'' He did it multiple 
times so that listeners would not miss his disdain for lesbians and for 
women. It was no accident or slip of the tongue. Given an opportunity 
to apologize or backtrack, Rivera Schatz has declined to back down.
  This is not the first time he has displayed his contempt for women 
and for the gay and lesbian community. His agenda is clear, and he 
knows he has many like-minded allies in Puerto Rico's statehood 
  Every time he has had an opportunity to block civil and human rights 
protections for LGBT individuals, he does so. He goes out of his way to 
belittle gay and lesbian citizens even when they are the victims of 
hate crimes.
  To be clear, I don't see Rivera Schatz as one bad apple. He is a bad 
apple that exemplifies and is a voice for the other leaders in his 
  So as a Puerto Rican and as a supporter of equality, all of this is 
deeply disturbing to me. Gender and LGBTQ equality issues are deeply 
engrained values of the Democratic Party, and I think they are core 
issues that bind Democrats together: issues of justice, opportunity, 
and fair play.
  So when the leaders of the statehood movement in Puerto Rico call 
upon Democrats in Congress to speak about equality and justice for 
Puerto Ricans, I want my colleagues to think about the agenda they are 
pursuing in Puerto Rico and the extent to which they have a very 
different approach to fairness and equality on the island.
  In closing, I would like to offer a few words to the Puerto Rican 
people in their own language, Spanish, and I will provide a translation 
to the desk.
  (English translation of the statement made in Spanish is as follows:)
  Core values of equality and fair treatment values I know most Puerto 
Ricans hold deeply in our hearts.
  So when the Statehood Party allows divisive and polarizing figures 
like Senator Rivera Schatz to be their face and their leading advocate 
in the Senate, it makes me and many others skeptical about the 
arguments we hear from people who support statehood say the words 
``equality'' and ``justice'' in Washington, but fight against equality 
and justice in Puerto Rico.
  How can they be taken seriously about equality when their agenda in 
the legislature is to take away those rights from women, the LGBT 
community, students, peaceful protesters and others?
  That is the fundamental hypocrisy I have pointed out to my Democratic 
colleagues, right now and in private meetings and correspondences.
  If the statehood movement is really committed to equality, they 
should act accordingly and not just use it as a slogan when it suits 
  Los valores de la igualdad y del trato justo y equitativo son valores 
fundamentales que la mayoria de los puertorriquenos atesoramos 
profundamente en nuestros corazones.
  Asi que cuando el Partido Estadista, el PNP, permite que figuras 
polarizantes y divisivas como el Senador Rivera Schatz sean su cara y 
su principal representante en el Senado, eso me hace a mi y a muchos 
otros sentirnos escepticos en cuanto a los argumentos de los estadistas 
que usan palabras como ``igualdad'' y ``justicia'' en Washington, pero 
luchan en contra de la igualdad y la justicia en Puerto Rico.
  rComo esperan que se les tome en serio al hablar de ``igualdad'' 
cuando su agenda en la Legislatura es el quitarles derechos a las 
mujeres, a la comunidad LGBT, a los estudiantes, y a los que se 
manifiestan y protestan pacificamente?
  Esta es la fundamental hipocresia que le he senalado a mis colegas 
Democratas, aqui, ahora, y en reuniones privadas, y a traves de 
  Si el movimiento estadista en realidad tuviese un compromiso con la 
igualdad, actuarian conforme a la igualdad y no meramente usando el 
termino como un lema cuando les conviene.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Illinois will provide a 
translation of his remarks to the Clerk.