January 12, 1982

When I announced my candidacy for this office more than 2 years ago, I pledged to support statehood for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, should the people of that island choose it in a free and democratic election. Today I reaffirm that support, still confident in my belief that statehood would benefit both the people of Puerto Rico and their fellow American citizens in the 50 States.

While I believe the Congress and the people of this country would welcome Puerto Rican statehood, this administration will accept whatever choice is made by a majority of the island's population.

No nation, no organization nor individual should mistake our intent in this. The status of Puerto Rico is an issue to be settled by the peoples of Puerto Rico and the United States. There must be no interference in the democratic process.

Puerto Ricans have borne the responsibilities of U.S. citizenship with honor and courage for more than 64 years. They have fought beside us for decades and have worked beside us for generations. Puerto Rico is playing an important role in the development of the Caribbean Basin Initiative, and its strong tradition of democracy provides leadership and stability in that region. In statehood, the language and culture of the island -- rich in history and tradition -- would be respected, for in the United States the cultures of the world live together with pride.

We recognize the right of the Puerto Rican people to self-determination. If they choose statehood, we will work together to devise a union of promise and opportunity in our Federal union of sovereign States.