Friday, November 8, 2013

Puerto Rico: Proponents of US Statehood Want to Influence Washington, Facts Say Otherwise

According to The Latin American Tribune, Ricky Rossello, son of one of the most popular governors in the island’s history and promoter of statehood, said that the problem with the island’s current US commonwealth status is that it prevents Puerto Rico from “influencing Washington’s decisions and having sufficient resources to solve its problems.”
Supporters of the idea of Puerto Rico becoming the 51st US state on Wednesday (November 6) launched a campaign to mobilize Puerto Ricans and the Hispanic population in general.

Rossello said that the problem with the island’s current US commonwealth status is that it prevents Puerto Rico from “influencing Washington’s decisions and having sufficient resources to solve its problems.”

COMMENT: The “Boricua ahora es” organization, in collaboration with other groups, has pushed for the running of an advertisement highlighting the inequalities suffered by Puerto Rican veterans compared with others in the US.

The ad, which will be broadcast on television stations in US cities where there are large concentrations of Puerto Ricans, notes that since World War I, more than 200,000 Puerto Rican soldiers have died serving the US.

This campaign also coincides with the release of a message by Puerto Rico’s non-voting delegate to Congress, Pedro Pierluisi, on the first anniversary of the referendum in which, for the first time in history, a majority of voters on the island said they wanted to change their status.

“The majority of voters, 54%, asked for a change of status; they said they didn’t want Puerto Rico to continue being a mere US territory,” according to Pierluisi, leader of the pro-statehood PNP, currently in the opposition.

July 25 marked the 115th anniversary of the US invasion of Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American War.

Island residents were granted US citizenship in 1917, yet they cannot vote in presidential elections, though Puerto Ricans living in the continental United States can.

Since 1952, the island has been a self-governing, unincorporated territory of the United States with broad internal autonomy, but without the right to conduct its own foreign policy.

Despite the efforts of Ricky Rossello, it is very unlikely that Puerto Rico will become a US state anytime soon, as in actuality, no referendum in Puerto Rico has any legal standing, considering that the sole decision to accord Puerto Rico statehood rests solely with the US Congress.

First of all, the last US state to be approved by the Congress occurred in 1959, half-a-century ago.

Secondly, the last referendum on US statehood was conceptually flawed with the results being of no value.

Even if Congress were to break out of its current gridlock, the Republican Party would surely use every tactic at its disposal to block a statehood bill. Exit polls showed that last year Barack Obama won 83% of the presidential vote among Puerto Ricans living on the mainland. 

Adding two Democratic-leaning senators, five representatives and seven presidential electoral votes at a time when President Barack Obama's popularity is plummeting to unprecedented levels, largely due to untruths told to the US public; public anger over Obama-care; numerous political scandals; and NSA's data-mining in violation of the privacy laws of a growing number of sovereign nations.

In light of the above, it is very likely that the Democratic Party will lose a large number of seats in the 2014 Congressional elections, which will not bode well for US statehood for Puerto Rico.

The GOP, which controls the House of Representatives, and may well gain a large number of seats in both houses in 2014, is very unlikely to support statehood for a US territory which voted predominantly for Barack Obama in 2012. 

Unfortunately, one of the strongest arguments against the Congress successfully voting in favor of statehood for Puerto Rico is the territory's out-of-control crime rate and corrupt police force that the Mainland hardly needs, given the fact that the US is a debtor nation, cash-strapped and growth of only 2.8%, which is hardly enough to sustain increased growth.