A New Plebiscite for Puerto Rico?

While Governor Ricardo Rossello is demanding that political candidates make a clear statement of their position on Puerto Rico statehood, others are saying there should be a new status vote.

Puerto Rico has already held five votes on the Island’s political status. The number voting for statehood has increased each time. The two most recent plebiscites, in 2012 and 2017, have resulted in a clear majority for statehood.

Rossello is pointing out that Puerto Rico has already decided on statehood. For candidates to say, “I support whatever the people of Puerto Rico want” is a cop out. The people of Puerto Rico want statehood, and “I support statehood for Puerto Rico” is the correct way to express support.

The “commonwealth” party continues to say things like, “All options should be presented.” In fact, all viable options were presented in the 2012 and 2017 plebiscites. Neither included “enhanced commonwealth” because, as Governor Rossello explained, “it doesn’t exist.”

A yes/no vote on statehood is one option. That’s what Hawaii and Alaska did. People who want to vote for enhanced commonwealth, becoming a colony of Spain again, or annexation by Cuba can all vote “No.”

Statehood supporters don’t object to another plebiscite

“Commonwealth” supporters seem determined to keep holding votes till they get the result they want. However, the chart above shows the result they should expect.

The anti-statehood faction boycotted the 2017 plebiscite, but nobody boycotts an election they can win. The “commonwealth” party and the tiny Independence party banded together to try to discredit the vote. They would not have done so if they had thought it was possible that either of their parties would win.

As Louis Arroyo pointed out, “They boycotted their inevitable defeat to statehood 80%-20%. By boycotting, they artificially inflated [the] statehood victory to 97%.”

Funds allocated to a federally-sponsored plebiscite are still available. At least one presidential candidate, Mike Gravel, has called for a new plebiscite, and others have referred to a “process of self-determination” which could include another referendum.

Statehood supporters have nothing to fear. As Rep. Jose Serrano said, “No one in Puerto Rico supports the present status. When they say they support commonwealth, they support a new commonwealth, which I call a letter to the Three Kings or a letter to Santa Claus.” There are only two viable non-colonial options: statehood and independence. Puerto Rico does not want independence. An honest vote will continue the trend toward statehood.

Should Americans care about Puerto Rico?

The people who actually live in Puerto Rico should be the ones to vote in a status referendum, if there is another vote. But what about the social media claims that presidential candidates in the United States are not entitled to an opinion on Puerto Rico’s status?

The President of the United States is also the President of Puerto Rico. Candidates for this position should have a clear opinion on statehood for Puerto Rico, just as they should have clear opinions on important issues in Alabama and Montana.

Members of the U.S. Congress will make the decision about Puerto Rico’s status. They should be educated on the options and prepared to make an informed decision. Of course they should have opinions.

In fact, all U.S. citizens should care about Puerto Rico. Americans should not be comfortable owning anything like a colony in the 21st century. They should not be comfortable seeing fellow U.S. citizens live without equal rights under the Constitution. If you live in a state, please tell your representatives that it is time for statehood for Puerto Rico.

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