One of the misunderstandings many people have about Statehood for Puerto Rico is that it will take away the special deal Puerto Rico has with the U.S. In fact, Puerto Rico doesn’t really have much of a special deal with the U.S. Puerto Rico receives less financial support from the U.S. than States do. How special is that?
But those who oppose Statehood sometimes think that Puerto Rico is free to make deals with other nations besides the U.S. in ways that States cannot. Not true.
In 2003, for example, Puerto Rico’s territorial government signed agreements with independent nations in the region. Secretary of State Colin Powell wrote to the leaders of those nations, saying:
The Department is aware that Puerto Rican government officials have approached a number of countries . . . seeking treatment normally only accorded to a sovereign state. . . . The department reiterates that the U.S. federal government is responsible for Puerto Rico’s foreign affairs.
The agreements never took place. Puerto Rico is not a country, and can’t make the kinds of deals countries can make with one another.
Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez, an author, described the situation very simply in 2007:
As Puerto Ricans, we cannot establish diplomatic or trade alliances with other countries without the approval of the United States Congress… This situation makes us the oldest colony in the modern world.
In this case, “other countries” means countries other than the United States.
While Puerto Rico could become an independent nation, the ties between Puerto Rico and the United States are so strong that most Puerto Ricans do not want to give up U.S. citizenship. Independence has not received more than 5% of the vote in any of Puerto Rico’s status votes or any other election.
Statehood, by contrast, will give Puerto Rico a stronger position and a greater degree of self-determination, along with greater economic opportunities.