We recently had a comment on Facebook asking us to remove a post which the commenter felt raised false hopes for statehood.
We don’t believe that hopes for statehood are false.
The three options for Puerto Rico’s status are these:
- Continue as a territory of the United States, with no sovereignty, limited participation in the American democratic process, and no chance for equal rights with other U.S. citizens. Any concession given by Congress can be undone by a later Congress, including U.S. citizenship.
- Become an independent nation, an option which has never received more than 5% of the vote in Puerto Rico. An independent nation of Puerto Rico could negotiate a Compact of Free Association with the United States. However, this could not be done ahead of time, and either nation could change or leave the deal at any time. That’s the “free” part of free association. People voting for free association might not be happy with the COFA they end up with.
- Become a state, with the same rights and responsibilities as the current 50 states.
The Department of Justice has said that “enhanced commonwealth” is impossible. Those who continue to claim that the current status can evolve into a special relationship — what Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-
Independence is a possibility under the U.S. constitution. But Puerto Rico doesn’t want independence, and there is so far no indication that the Congress will force independence on the people of Puerto Rico. Congress has offered independence to Puerto Rico repeatedly, but Puerto Rico has not considered accepting the offers. New definitions of independence with and without free association are included in the Puerto Rico Status Act, which will be reintroduced this term. If the votes in favor of either of these plans jumped from less than 5% to 55%, it could happen. There is, however, evidence that the federal government will not pass such a bill without changes in those definitions.
None of the 32 territories which have become states reached statehood without controversy. Most of us have forgotten those controversies now.
We don’t believe that we’re raising false hopes. We think that statehood for Puerto Rico is nearer than ever. Please let your congressperson know that you support statehood for Puerto Rico.