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Fernós-Isern, Dr. A., Resident Commissioner of the Commonwealth of

Puerto Rico

Helfeld, Dr. David M., professor of law, University of Puerto Rico (state-

ment before the House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs at

San German, P.R., December 10, 1959...

Muñoz-Marín, Hon. Luis, Governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico;

accompanied by Hiram R. Cancio, attorney general, and Hiram Torres,

assistant to the Governor..

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Washington, D.C. The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:30 a.m., in room 3110, New Senate Office Building, Senator James E. Murray (chairman of the committee) presiding.

Present: Senators Murray, Anderson, Jackson, O'Mahoney, Bible, Carroll, Gruening, and Allott.

Also present: Stewart French, chief counsel, and Michael J. Cafferty, assistant counsel and staff specialist on offshore areas.

The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order, please.

I regret that we have been delayed in the opening this morning, because we have been involved in other matters which took more time than we had expected.

This is a meeting of the full Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs for an open hearing on S. 2023, the bill I introduced in the Senate on May 21, to amend the Puerto Rican Federal Relations Act. The text of S. 2023 is identical with that of H.R. 5926, which was introduced in the House of Representatives by Commissioner FernósIsern of Puerto Rico on March 23.

My sponsorship of this measure is the outgrowth and development of many years of keen interest in my two and a quarter million fellow American citizens who live in Puerto Rico. I long have admired and respected their culture, their industry, and their political maturity. In the 80th Congress, in 1947, Senator O'Mahoney and I supported and worked for passage of the elective governor bill for Puerto Rico. As is well known, this measure became law, and the Honorable Luis Muñoz Marín became the first Chief Executive in Puerto Rico's 450year history to be chosen by the people of Puerto Rico. Again, in the 81st Congress, in 1950, I supported and helped in the

Ι enactment of the bill sponsored by the then chairman of this commitcee, Senator O'Mahoney, which became Public Law 600. Public Law 600, 81st Congress, is the cornerstone of Commonwealth status for Puerto Rico. In the following Congress, the 82d, Senator O'Mahoney's measure to approve the constitution of Puerto Rico was before us, and I am glad to have had a part in the hearings and passage of that bill as well. This measure approving the constitution of Puerto Rico, subject to certain conditions, was also sponsored by Senator O'Mahoney and piloted through Congress by him.

I cite this personal record only by way of setting forth the background for my introduction of S. 2023, which carries forward selfgovernment in Puerto Rico still further.


For the purpose of conducting the hearings on my bill, I have asked the distinguished and able junior Senator from Washington, the Honorable Henry M. Jackson, to act as chairman. Senator Jackson is one of the foremost experts in the entire Congress on problems connected with the government of off-shore areas. He already knows a great deal about Puerto Rico and its problems, and both the committee and the people of Puerto Rico are fortunate in having him act as chairman of these hearings.

I wish at this time publicly to thank Senator Jackson for taking the time from his busy schedule to assist us here.

I now turn the meeting over to Senator Jackson.
Senator JACKSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I believe the Resident Commissioner and the Governor of Puerto Rico are to be the two principal witnesses today. The committee hopes at a later time to go into detail when spokesmen for the various executive departments of the Federal Government can be heard, but this morning and this afternoon we would like to have the opportunity of having the two distinguished representatives that are here today to present a general statement. Detailed analyses of the individual provisions may have to wait until a later date in connection with the proposed legislation.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to suggest that the Resident Commissioner Mr. Fernós-Isern, be the first witness.

First, Mr. Chairman, the Bureau of the Budget has submitted a letter under date of June 8, which should be included in the record at this point. I will direct that this report, as well as reports from other executive agencies of the Federal Government which are received up to the time these hearings go to press, appear in the record at this point.

Senator O'MAHONEY. Mr. Chairman, may I suggest that the bill also be included.

Senator Jackson. That is an excellent suggestion. The bill will likewise be included as an appendix to these hearings. (The departmental reports are as follows:)



Washington, D.C., June 8, 1959. Hon. JAMES E. MURRAY, Chairman, Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.

MY DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: This will reply to your letter of June 2, 1959, requesting the report and comment of the Bureau of the Budget on S. 2023, a bill to amend the Puerto Rican Federal Relations Act. The proposed legislation appears to have a twofold purpose: (1) to eliminate certain obsolete language in the Puerto Rican Federal Relations Act which is not compatible with Puerto Rico's present status; and (2) to redefine the relationships between the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the Government of the United States.

The Bureau of the Budget has been pleased to note the progress, both political and economic, made by Puerto Rico since the organization of the Commonwealth in 1952. We would favor such measures, consistent with the Constitution and the continuing responsibilities of the Federal Government, as may be required to strengthen further local self-government in Puerto Rico and to clarify the relationships between the Commonwealth and the Federal Government. The proposed legislation, however, particularly in articles IX, XII, and XV and section 3, raises serious questions of constitutionality and basic Federal policy. The Bureau would prefer to withhold detailed comment on these provisions of the bill until we have had an opportunity to study the reports submitted by the Department of Justice and other interested agencies.

Mr. Harold Seidman, Assistant Chief, Office of Management and Organization, will be present at the hearing on June 9 as an observer for the Bureau. If the Bureau can be of assistance to the committee in connection with the consideration of S. 2023, please do not hesitate to call upon us. Sincerely yours,

PHILLIP S. HUGHES, Assistant Director for Legislative Reference.


Washington, D.C. Hon. James E. MURRAY, Chairman, Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, U.S. Senate.

DEAR SENATOR MURRAY: This is in reply to the request of May 26, 1959, for a report on S. 2023, a bill to provide for amendments to the compact between the people of Puerto Rico and the United States.

The Department recommends against passage of the bill in its present form.

We are not sufficiently informed to make recommendations on the general policy questions regarding future relations between the United States and Puerto Rico. Our comments are limited to the applicability of the bill to the programs administered by this Department.

We are concerned about article VI, permitting assumption by Puerto Rico of Federal activities in the island. It seems to us that any legislation on this subject should be specific as to the programs which would be carried out by the Federal Government and those that would be transferred to the Commonwealth, together with the conditions of such transfer.

We also believe article IV should be amended to make clear that it would not modify sections 202 and 207 of the Sugar Act of 1948, as amended, limiting the quantities of raw and refined sugar which may be imported into the continental United States from Puerto Rico

The Forest Service conducts many investigations designed to promote the best use of the forests whether in public or private ownership: As a part of the overall research program certain basic investigations and studies are carried on in the Tropical Forest Research Center in Puerto Rico. The research program of this center is of broad regional significance, since the results have wide application on the North American continent and in Latin America. It is of the character that is carried on by the Forest Service in the States and is a part of the national program of forestry research.

A similar situation applies to the Federal experiment station in Puerto Rico which is administered by the Agricultural Research Service.

It thus appears that this research program would not be one to be transferred to the Commonwealth. However, this is not clear. Article VI should be clarified to show that those types of research that are now carried on by the Federal Government, rather than by the States, would not be included in the federally performed functions, duties, and services which might be transferred to the Commonwealth.

Article VII, paragraph (a) would, subject to certain conditions, declare all crown property (property acquired by the United States under article VIII of the December 10, 1898, treaty with Spain) to be the property of Puerto Rico.

Paragraph (b) of the article would require that the President notwithstanding any other provisions of law shall transfer to the Commonwealth the control over or other rights of the United States in the crown property or parts thereof where such control or rights are no longer needed for essential public purposes of the United States.

Paragraph (c) of Article VII would require the President to dispose of other lands and real property owned or controlled by the United States which are not needed for essential public purposes. Such lands and property would first be offered at cost to Puerto Rico if they are needed by Puerto Rico for public purposes.

Paragraph (d) of the article would require that each Federal agency owning property in Puerto Rico, prepare and submit a report to the President and the Congress, listing the property so owned and controlled and giving reasons for continuation thereof.

The Forest Service has jurisdiction over 12,384 acres of crown property and 17,080 acres of other lands in Puerto Rico which by Presidential proclamation and act of Congress are national-forest lands. In addition, the Forest Service

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