The President’s visit to Puerto Rico in June 2011 is one of many demonstrations of the Administration’s strong commitment to the Island. The historic visit built on the strong foundation of the work of the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status, which has developed a comprehensive approach to addressing critical issues of importance to the people of Puerto Rico. Moving forward, the Task Force is closely monitoring the implementation of the recommendations laid out in its report and is planning at least one more summit later this year and several others next year.
The Task Force’s report issued in March 2011 addressed both political status and economic development in Puerto Rico. The Task Force’s recommendations regarding status provided a meaningful way forward so that the residents of the Island can determine their own future. In his arrival address, the President reiterated this commitment, stating that “when the people of Puerto Rico make a clear decision, my administration will stand by you.”
The President also raised other challenges facing Puerto Rico, including unemployment, education, health care, and energy. The Task Force’s report outlines some of the tools available through the Administration’s economic plan: health care reform, broadband expansion, and investments in education and clean energy that help address these challenges in Puerto Rico. As the President made clear, “Those are the kinds of steps it will take for Puerto Rico to win the future and for America to win the future.”
Members of the Task Force have visited Puerto Rico on numerous occasions, and conducted important work related to the report’s recommendations. The U.S. Department of Commerce led a White House Business Council roundtable discussion on the same day as the President’s visit, which was followed the next day by an economic summit with Puerto Rican leaders to continue the dialogue about how the federal government can work with Puerto Rico to bolster the economic recovery of the Island. Earlier, in April 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency initiated the Vieques Sustainability Task Force. Working with other Federal partners, key stakeholders in the Puerto Rican government, and community leaders, EPA has already begun to explore and execute some of the recommendations.
The Task Force is committed to realizing the ambitious goals reflected in its report as vehicles for real progress, to advance the President’s vision and commitment to the people of Puerto Rico.
Cecilia Muñoz and Thomas J. Perrelli are Co-Charis of the President's Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status