César Méndez, a third generation statehood advocate, shares his personal reasons for supporting statehood.
“It saddens me that when I come back from my missions and my tours, that my comrades from other states go to their homes with equal treatment, but I as a U.S. airman will not,” says César.
Generations of statehood support
José Celso Barbosa Alcala founded the first statehood party on July 4th, 1899. Statehood has been chosen in all three status votes in the 21st century, but it was not a new idea in 2012.
Prior to that time, there was widespread belief that Puerto Rico had a special relationship with the United States, something different from territory status. The Governor and Resident Commissioner in 1952 asked President Eisenhower to stop reporting Puerto Rico to the United Nations as a non-self-governing territory. They drafted a letter explaining that Puerto Rico was no longer a territory, that it was fully self-governing, and that there was a compact between the United States and Puerto Rico giving the Island special privileges not available to states or territories.
The federal government made it clear that this was not true. The letter was changed and included in a memorandum to the United Nations which described the gradual increasing “scope of self-government” in Puerto Rico culminating in a territorial constitution. It also said that “Puerto Rico has voluntarily entered into the relationship with the United States which it has chosen to describe as a ‘commonwealth’ relationship.”
The “commonwealth” party won the elections at that time, and the first status referendum saw victory on the part of “commonwealth” supporters.
However, the federal government was clear at that time that Puerto Rico was still a territory. As time passed, this point was made repeatedly and every more clearly by every branch of the federal government. Decisions by the Supreme Court in the cases of Sanchez Velle and Vaello Madero included statements from the court that Puerto Rico is a territory with no sovereignty.
The myth of the commonwealth was shattered.
Since that time, statehood has been the majority choice of the people of Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico statehood movement has been strong since Puerto Rico became a possession of the United States
César has a dream that his father should be able to see statehood. Like so many other families in Puerto Rico, his family has supported the U.S. military for generations. They have also supported statehood for generations.
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