Russia Today’s Take on Puerto Rico Status

Russia Today, a government-run TV station that also publishes internet content, took a bold stand on Puerto Rico’s status with an article called “AOC is right: Puerto Rico is a US colony and should be independent.”

The article starts right off with an unsupportable claim: “Progressives in the US routinely denounce both colonization and racist oppression of ‘people of color.’ So why is only Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez advocating self-determination for the US colony of Puerto Rico?”

Ocasio-Cortez is not by any means the only one advocating self-determination for Puerto Rico. She is not even the only member of Congress doing so.

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The article continues. “Most other territories seized by the US in the course of the Spanish-American War, such as Cuba and the Philippines, have since become independent. Not so Puerto Rico, which remains an “unincorporated territory” of the US.”

It would be correct to say that Cuba and Philippines have become independent. The other territory involved was Guam, which is still a territory. Since the “other territories” included Cuba, Guam, and the Philippines — and two out of three equals “most” — that sentence is not strictly speaking false.

“Most Puerto Ricans these days seem to prefer becoming the 51st state,” the article goes on, reporting the results of the 2012 and 2017 status referenda. The author then claims that Congress is taking a cynical, votes-oriented position on the question.

Mixing facts with falsehoods

“There is no denying that after 120 years of US rule, Puerto Rico is in bad shape,” RT concludes. “So why not do the right thing and grant the island full independence? As a bonus, AOC – that great visionary of our time – can then get a shot at implementing her Green New Deal and transforming the island into a socialist tropical paradise. It’s a win-win!”

The snarky tone in reference to Ocasio-Cortez slips right past the fact that she never called for independence for Puerto Rico. She tweeted, “PR is still a colony of the United States. The island deserves real self-determination. We must say that to fix it,” in September 2018. Later in the thread, Ocasio-Cortez said, “The US gov has refused to ANY discussion of PR’s political status – whether that be statehood or independence. This is the result.”

Those statements are not calls for independence.

Is the suggestion that Ocasio-Cortez could become president of the Republic of Puerto Rico so she can” transform the island into a socialist tropical paradise”? It’s not clear.

Is Russia using fake news for influence?

The House Intelligence Committee has announced that Russia “sought to sow discord in American society and undermine our faith in the democratic process” through fake news and manipulative social media.

The RT article is clearly not unbiased, honest reporting. It certainly could fan the flames of discord. The mixture of facts with fudging and falsehoods makes it easy to be confused or swayed. We don’t know what the goal of the article is, but critical reading of any article from any source can help get to the truth.

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