Sen. Manchin Needs More Facts on Puerto Rico Statehood

In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” with host Jake Tapper, Senator Joe Manchin answered a question on D.C. statehood with, “I don’t know enough about that yet. I want to see the pros and cons. So, I’m waiting to see all the facts. I’m open up to see everything.”

Tapper then asked about Puerto Rico. Manchin answered, “Same thing. I need more facts on that.”

It’s good to recognize it when you don’t have enough information and need to learn. Manchin had previously made negative comments about statehood.

People who know more, choose statehood

In polls of Americans in general, we have repeatedly seen that people who know more are more in favor of statehood than people who know less.

  • People who know that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens are more likely to support statehood.
  • People who know more about the relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico are more likely to support statehood.
  • Over the years, more educated people tend to favor statehood.

Puerto Rico’s status and circumstances can be confusing. That makes it necessary to help Senator Joe Manchin and the rest of the legislators understand the issue fully.

@Sen_JoeManchin, we invite you to visit www.PR51st.com to learn more about statehood for Puerto Rico, an important question of human rights. Click To Tweet

Inequality for Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has been a possession of the United States since 1898. Puerto Ricans have been citizens of the United States since 1917. In all that time, however, they have not been equal to other citizens under the law.

It its legal for Congress to treat Puerto Rico differently from the states. It may not be right, from the point of view of civil rights and human rights, but it is not illegal.

Therefore, Puerto Rico faces many cases of inequality. Puerto Rico gets less funding than a state of the same size in everything from healthcare to food stamps.

More importantly, Puerto Rico has less representation in the government. With no senators and just one member of the House of Representatives (with no meaningful vote), Puerto Rico is at the mercy of the legislators who represent the states. They make the decisions for Puerto Rico, but of course their own states are their priority.

Puerto Rico can’t vote in presidential elections, so presidents focus less on the welfare of the territory than on the states that will send them to or keep them in the White House.

Because of these and similar facts, the current status of Puerto Rico is an issue of human rights.

The consent of the governed

The United States believes in “government by the consent of the governed.” This phrase was written in The Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

In 2012, 54% of Puerto Rico voters said they wanted to end the territorial status. Several members of Congress agreed then and since then that the result of that vote shows a rejection of the current relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico is not currently governed by the consent of the governed. This means that the status of Puerto Rico is a matter of civil rights.

Statehood for Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has voted for statehood three times: in 2012, 2017, and 2020. In each case, a majority of voters chose statehood in a clear act of self-determination. The duly elected government of Puerto Rico has officially demanded statehood.

There are those who want to claim the Puerto Rico’s voters did not mean their votes, or were deceived into voting, or did not understand what they were saying by their votes — a very patronizing position to take.

No U.S. territory which asked for statehood has ever been refused. Puerto Rico is the most populous territory, the most integrated into the economy of the United States, and the longest to be a territory. It is time to respect the vote, to respect the people of Puerto Rico, and to admit Puerto Rico as a state.

Contact your legislators and make sure they understand this.

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