Illinois Congressman Luis Gutiérrez wrote an open letter to President Obama pleading for help for Puerto Rico. Obama said he would support Puerto Rico’s decision on statehood and the White House declared that the 2012 vote in favor of statehood was “clear.” The current administration has budgeted money for a new, federally-funded plebiscite.
But many voters think that the next president might provide a better chance for Puerto Rico. And, knowing that Puerto Rican voters are important in the primaries and that the diaspora is particularly important in the presidential election, candidates are taking the time to visit Puerto Rico.
Jeb Bush visited earlier this year, before he declared that he was running for President, and spoke in favor of statehood and bankruptcy protection for Puerto Rico.
Martin O’Malley visited in August. He didn’t speak out in favor of statehood, but he did commit to working for equal treatment for Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico’s history has shown that equal treatment is probably not possible for an unincorporated territory, but O’Malley has said that “Puerto Rico should be treated just like the states.”
Now Marco Rubio and Hillary Clinton will both be campaigning in Puerto Rico on the same day. Rubio favors statehood, but is reportedly undecided on the bankruptcy question, while Clinton supports bankruptcy protection and is undecided on statehood.
It is to be hoped that the people of Puerto Rico will take the opportunity to speak out frankly to the candidates.