Puerto Rico the 51st state? Not likely.


On Nov. 6, Puerto Rico is holding a referendum on the territory’s tricky political status with the United States. Puerto Rican support for formal statehood has been growing steadily in recent years, with polls showing 41 per cent want the island to become the 51st state.

Yet on the mainland, the issue makes for toxic politics. The status of Spanish—which is spoken by 95 per cent of Puerto Ricans—as an official language is unpopular with conservative Republicans. And recession-weary Americans are unlikely to be enthused about any extension of national entitlement programs such as medicare and social security to an island plagued by poverty and joblessness.

President Barack Obama has admitted that a majority vote would not be enough to start the process of bringing Puerto Rico into the union. Congress, he says, will wait for a “stronger inclination” before taking action.

Few Americans are tuning in to Puerto Rico’s debate, and the Caribbean protectorate is largely deciding its future without mainland influence. But should they vote to join the union, Puerto Ricans, who have U.S. citizenship but no U.S. political representation, may find they are not as welcome as some U.S. political leaders would have them believe.

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Puerto Rico the 51st state? Not likely.

  1. Let’s not pretend that we have a crystal ball in this issue. The issue is an issue of political equality. Will Puerto Ricans in the Island continue to accept an undignifying and humilliating second class citizenship status as a price paid for the economic and perceived world advantages of U.S. Citizenship? Or in the alternative, Will Puerto Ricans in the Island demand that the Island be made a State of the Union in sufficient unison, therefore asking to be treated equally and assuming all the responsibilities of a State of the United States as well. Puertorricans born in the island are U.S. Citizens. However, the land that comprises the Island has never been incorporated into the Union. Therefore,Puertorricans that move into the states in the mainland cannot be singled out, they are treated like any other U.S. Citizens because they are. The federal government through Congress has the power to, and routinely passes laws that apply in the Island even though the Island does not elect legislators to Congress. The U.S. President has all the powers, including sending people to war and calling the local national guardsmen to military duty even though the Islanders are not allowed to vote for that President for as long as they live in the Island. The article inaccurately calls the Island a protectorate. The U.S. Constitution calls it a Territory. The land is merely a territorial possession. The U.S. Congress could sell it to Canada or to China tomorrow to mine lead if it wanted to. Whether Puertorricans are socially accepted or not is an interesting subject. I am Puertorrican, grew up in the Island, I am an attorney in Chicago, I am white and I have experienced very little rejection. If I did, I would not care much, I am a U.S. Citizen. My attitute is: move to another country or write your Congressman if you don’t like it! Fortunately, I have experienced the kindler and gentler side of being a U.S. Citizen. The experience of other Puertorricans has been a little different in the mainland. The point is: this is not an issue of social acceptance. The issue is one of political power and equlity. The federal government and the local “State Constitution”: (the proper word is “insular constitution) does guarantee enough rights of assembly, expression and vote in the Island that the people can demand politically equality if they really want it. The article is right is this one regard: We will never know, if the U.S. Congress will accept or reject the petition of admission of eminently Hispanic PR as a State, if the U.S. Citizens of the Island do not inequivocally express that political wish in unison. History is full of examples. Hawaii was too Asian, Florida was also too hispanic and with too many “red faced natives when it petition” according to some. Tennessee’s petition was rejected and it responded by electing “Congressmen” and sending them to Washington anyway. Let’s not pretend that we have a crystal ball in this issue. To do so would be offensive to the people of the U.S.

    • State Hood would never happen if Big business money grabbers enjoy the tax shelters that they have and share most of the big money with big money grabbers here in the US enjoy that statue. the republicans also enjoy the money that comes with that. that’s why Puerto Rico will never be a state if congress has anything to say about it even if the Puerto Rican people vote Puerto Rico into state hood. Money Money is the down fall of this country.

    • Well said!

  2. One word, Mr. Betancourt; Bravo! I somehow came across this article while looking up the 2012 Olympics. As I’m reading this article I sense some kind of negative attitude or resentment from the writer, Mika Rekai. Let’s put aside the fact that the article itself is riddled with misinformation and misconception, I have the privilege of knowing many Puerto Ricans from the island who are businessmen and some in other professions like ophthalmology and dentistry who pay into federal income taxes (Social Security and Medicare, I believe that’s what it is) who take different stances on the political status of Puerto Rico. Most of them favor statehood. I’m from New York City and have plenty of friends who are from Puerto Rican descent who favor statehood for PR as well as non-Puerto Ricans. There is too much American money invested in the infrastructure of the island for it to be a second thought, let alone an after-thought. The Location of the island is in a perfect place for military security and strategy. So forget about selling the Puerto Rico to Canada, and China is most definetly out of the question. I’ve also looked up Puerto Rico’s involvement in the military. Puerto Ricans have fought in WWI and every major war thereafter as members of the United States’ Department of Defense (Department of War, as it was once known by, I believe).

    There is a lot more that can be said on this subject but I don’t believe this site is legit (judging by the composer of this article). The number of literary fallacies in this report would have given it a failing grade on a persuasive essay in my old high school. Whether this year or 8 years from now, the people of Puerto Rico will ultimately elect the status that will best serve its people with the support of the mainland US. Be it commonwealth, independence, or statehood.

  3. Independence or Associated Republic for Puerto Rico now!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. The U.S. States and Territories 25-cent pieces are the closest Puerto Rico will get to statehood. I hope Puerto Rico votes for statehood because they will then see how the U.S. Congress will kick them to the curb and reject their will. Perhaps then the people will come to realize that Independence is the only way to regain their lost identity – lost for these past 500-plus years.

  5. I agree. This is how we should rather decolonize Puerto Rico.

    I invite you to join the non-violent protest to demand that the United States (US) decolonize Puerto Rico (PR) immediately. It will be on Monday, June 17, 2013 from 8 AM to 5 PM outside the United Nations (UN) visitor’s entrance located on 46th Street and First Avenue in New York City.

    The UN has determined that colonialism is a crime against humanity in 1960 under Resolution 1514 (XV). That’s why the UN celebrates every year a hearing about Puerto Rico decolonization. Every year the UN puts forth a resolution asking the US to decolonize PR. Despite 30 of these resolutions, PR is still the oldest and most populated colony in the world! It is obvious by now that the US is not going to decolonize PR just because the UN asks.

    Through education, we must create a domestic and international solidarity with this cause to pressure the US to do what historically she has refused to do. This is why we need everyone who also believes that colonialism is a crime against humanity to join the protest to demand compliance to international law!

    Puerto Rico has been a colony of the US for 114 years. The US’ intention is to keep PR a colony forever unless we do something about it. It is important to note that: democracy isn’t what a government does. Democracy is what people do!

    President John F. Kennedy said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere.” These ideas, of course, are the reasons why the United Nations was created after World War II.

    It is up to us to defend the fundamental human rights that promote world peace. The tragedy of doing nothing is that we will have the kind of government that we deserve!


    José M. López Sierra

    For more information:
    Compañeros Unidos para la Descolonización de Puerto Rico

  6. Puerto Rico has a right to be a sovereign country. As soon as they make up their
    Minds, we should lower the us flag, take our passports and leave. We should notforce people to live under the flag and protection of the USA if they do not want to. It is un-american.

  7. It’s very informative and it will help many others, we are
    also dealing in same field hence found this informative to add in our process

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