Presidential Candidate Donald Trump made a statement on Puerto Rico’s status recently:
There are 3.7 million American citizens living in Puerto Rico. As citizens, they should be entitled to determine for themselves their political status. I am firmly committed to the process where Puerto Ricans might resolve their status according to Constitutional and Congressional protocols. I believe the people of Puerto Rico deserve a process of status self-determination that gives them a fair and unambiguous choice on this matter. As president I will do my part to insure that Congress follows the Constitution. The will of the Puerto Rican people in any status referendum should be considered as Congress follows through on any desired change in status for Puerto Rico, including statehood.
In other words, like many in Washington, Trump is saying that Puerto Rico should get to choose which status the Island should have.
This sounds good, but for a couple of things.
First, Puerto Rico already chose statehood. There is also another referendum coming up, one which was funded by the federal government and which should take place in 2016.
So a statement favoring a process that lets Puerto Rico choose their status, that Congress should follow the Constitution, and that the results of status votes should be considered really just states the obvious. This statement does not say, “If the people vote again for statehood, as President I will call on Congress to pass a statehood admission act, and sign if it it is passed on terms that serve the U.S. national interest.”
61% of the people who chose a status opted for statehood in the 2012 referendum. This is a clear majority. An additional vote to confirm this result is planned. Presidential candidates should be ready to demand action on the part of Congress in response to the upcoming plebiscite. Mr. Trump is not known to be a fence-straddling politician so a statement like this one seems out of character. If he means a majority vote “should be considered” and that the future status options should “include statehood,” does that mean he would be noncomittal about continuing the status quo instead of actively supporting statehood?
Tell Trump that you want a real answer on the question.
photo by Gage Skidmore
This statement was at one time on the Trump campaign website, but it is no longer available online. See a photo of the physical statement given to the press.