Puerto Rico has three options for political status under the U.S. Constitution:
- Puerto Rico can remain a territory.
- Puerto Rico can become an independent nation, with or without free association.
- Puerto Rico can become a state.
“Enhanced commonwealth” is impossible under the constitution, and has been called “mythical” and “not a viable option” by the federal government. It is sometimes presented as an alternative by the “commonwealth” party, but it is not a real possibility.
Does Puerto Rico want to continue as a territory?
The 2012 plebiscite directly asked voters whether they would like to keep their territory status. 54% said no. The 2017 plebiscite offered the choice of remaining a territory, and 1.32% voted yes.
It must be considered that the “commonwealth” party called for a boycott. However, the preferences of people who do not vote are never considered in the results of U.S. elections. It must also be considered that people never call for a boycott of a race they can win.
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.”
Does Puerto Rico want independence?
Independence received 5.5% of votes in the 2012 referendum and 1.50% in 2017. Independence has never received more than 5% of the vote. There is absolutely no reason to think that people living in Puerto Rico want independence.
Some people living in the states want independence for Puerto Rico. It is a romantic idea, and deeply appealing to people in the United States. However, it is unlikely that the Congress would ever force independence on the unwilling residents of Puerto Rico.
Does Puerto Rico want statehood?
61% of voters chose statehood in 2012. 97% chose statehood in 2017. Over the course of all five status votes, statehood’s percentage of votes has increased. In the 21st century, statehood has been the clear winner.
Statehood has also been the winner in all this century’s polls in Puerto Rico. The Kaiser Family Foundation poll at the top of this post is just one example.
A new plebiscite will take place in Puerto Rico on Election Day this November. The single question will be, “Should Puerto Rico become a state?” The answer will clearly show whether the people of Puerto Rico want statehood. We hope this will keep politicians from continuing to ask whether Puerto Rico really wants statehood.