Puerto Ricans have voted again for statehood, and the process of fighting for admission has moved another step forward. As the 51st state, Puerto Rico will bring a lot of richness to the United States.
Puerto Rico has been a territory of the Unites States for more than a century, and 5.6 million Puerto Ricans currently live in the states. Puerto Rico already has enriched U.S. life and culture. From the thousands of men and women in the armed forces to the many icons of science, sports, public service, and the arts, Puerto Ricans are an integral part of U.S. life and history.
But just as Hawaiian food, fashions, and music became the craze of the years after Hawaii’s admission to the United States, Puerto Rico should be ready for a fascination with Puerto Rico to develop with statehood.
It’s hard to predict what will capture the public imagination. Back in 1959, Hawaiians might not have guessed that surfing, aloha shirts, and ukulele music would become the focus of popular culture in the 1960s. We can only speculate on the Puerto Rican specialties that might move into the mainstream in the coming decade.
What’s more adorable than the little tree frog native to Puerto Rico? Pandas and sloths might have their fans, but the Coquí could take over the position of cutest creature.
Puerto Rican distilleries produce nearly all the rum consumed in the United States, and a lot of that rum comes in the traditional Piña Colada. But another beloved cocktail is the Coquito, most popular at Christmastime. It’s a mixture of condensed milk, coconut milk, cream of coconut, rum, and spices
This dish of mashed and fried plantains has its roots in Taino culture, with the addition of Spanish Sofrito, and pork cracklings. The first published recipe was in the cookbook El Cocinero Puertorriqueño, in 1859, but the dish continues to evolve in modern restaurants.
Reggaeton is already popular in the states, but Bomba is currently less well known. Bomba is a music and dance tradition harking back to African influences.
No matter which aspects of Puerto Rican culture most endear the 51st state to the 50 states welcoming Puerto Rico into the Union, statehood will provide economic and cultural opportunities on both sides.