Republican state Reps. Rene Plasencia, Bob Cortes and David Santiago are headed to Puerto Rico tomorrow to meet with government officials, according to a press release issued by Cortes, R-Altamonte Springs.
The three-day trip will include visits with the Puerto Rican House speaker, the governor’s chief of staff, and port officials, according to the release.
The three-day trip is “a continuation of the dialogue initiated earlier this year” by Plasencia’s office and will focus on healthcare, trade and the economy, the release said.
“With the population of Puerto Ricans in Florida exceeding 1 million, it is imperative that our two governments have a dialogue on how to address not only the impact that is being felt across all Florida communities, but also on the island of Puerto Rico,” Plasencia, R-Orlando, said.
The Puerto Rican trip comes after officials from the island visited Central Florida earlier this year.
State Rep. Bob Cortes sent a letter to the Brevard County Commission urging elected officials to reject a resolution asking the U.S. Congress to block Puerto Rico from becoming the 51st state.
“As a person who is Puerto Rican, and spent many years living in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, I strongly encourage you to vote this resolution down,” Cortes, R-Altamonte Springs, wrote.
The resolution — proposed by Commissioner John Tobia, a Melbourne Republican who formerly served in the state House — states that Puerto Rico “is $123 billion in debt,” and that the existing crisis “is, in large part, a result of socializing private industry.”
But in Cortes’s letter to the commission sent Friday, the state rep maintained he was supporting Puerto Rican statehood on behalf of more than 14,000 Puerto Ricans who live in his House District 30, the 1 million-plus Puerto Ricans who live in the state and the more than 5 million who live in the U.S.
Cortes noted that, with 3.5 million residents, Puerto Rico’s population exceeds that of 22 states.
“Support for this resolution sends a message that our exclusive club doesn’t need any new members, that the United States is finished accepting applications for statehood, and that even though Puerto Ricans are Americans the land they live on is not good enough to be included in our United States.