Why should you support statehood for Puerto Rico? Here are five good reasons.
Statehood is a permanent status
Right now, Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States. That is a temporary political status. Puerto Rico can become a state or an independent nation with or without a compact of free association (COFA) with the United States. Although the U.S. government has said repeatedly that these are the only options for Puerto Rico’s status, some territorial leaders continue to claim that there is a Fantasy Island “best of both worlds” option out there somewhere. As long as Puerto Rico remains a territory belonging to the United States, they can make those claims.
As a state, Puerto Rico will have the same rights and responsibilities as the current 50 states, and be on an equal footing with all the other states. This will be a permanent sovereign political status, bringing stability to the Island.
Statehood brings equality
Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress can treat territories differently from states. Puerto Rico, as a territory, receives less in federal funding than states do.
Puerto Rico receives less in nutrition assistance, less in Medicaid and Medicare, less in highway funds, less in income tax credits, less in disaster assistance… The Government Accountability Office found in a 2014 study that Puerto Rico receives less in 11 major federal programs than it would as a state. The increase in federal funds would bring in an additional $5 to $10 billion for Puerto Rico.
Statehood brings representation
Puerto Rico has no senators, and just one, non-voting member in Congress. Puerto Rico has no electors, and therefore cannot vote in presidential elections. This means that Puerto Rico has very little say in American democracy.
As a state, Puerto Rico will have two senators and five members of Congress. All these people will have the power to speak and vote for Puerto Rico. The head of the Independence Party laughed in a Congressional hearing that a senator from Puerto Rico would have more power than the President of Puerto Rico would, and it’s true.
As a state, Puerto Rico will be able to vote in presidential elections.
Statehood brings prosperity
As a territory, Puerto Rico is experiencing financial crisis. Nearly half of the people of Puerto Rico live in poverty. People are moving away from Puerto Rico, making the economic situation even worse.
This is the result of the territorial status. It is proof that the current political status is not beneficial for Puerto Rico.
Every territory that has become a state has seen increased prosperity. Population increases, investors take the plunge, businesses flourish — statehood is good for the economy. We can see this in the history of every state, and we expect to see it in Puerto Rico, too.
Statehood is the right thing to do
The United States should be an example of democracy and freedom in the world. Keeping 3.2 million U.S. citizens in a colonial relationship without their consent — as shown in the plebiscites of 2012 and 2017 — is not the action of a free and democratic society.
All Americans should be concerned about the civil rights of Puerto Rico. Tell your congressional rep that you want equality through statehood for Puerto Rico.