Florida’s Democratic Party voted in favor of a resolution to support Puerto Rico statehood at their convention in Orlando last week.
They started out by reminding everyone of the position Puerto Rico is in as an unincorporated territory of the United States.
“3.2 million U.S. citizens live in the territory of Puerto Rico, who are denied equal rights simply because, under Article IV of the U.S.Constitution, Congress has the absolute power to make rules and regulations for the U.S. territories. U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico do not have full representation since they cannot vote for the U.S. President, nor do they have elected representation in the U.S. Congress, except for a non-voting delegate called Resident Commissioner.”
As long as Puerto Rico is not a state, the people of Puerto Rico have no real voice in American democracy.
What this means to Florida
Florida is now the state with the largest Puerto Rican population. They edged out New York after Hurricane Maria, when some 250,000 people came from Puerto Rico to Florida. The resolution speaks of these 250,000 people, pointing out that they left their Island because they needed the support of a state.
People left in search of healthcare, education, and job opportunities they couldn’t find in the territory. they left because the federal government didn’t provide the kind of disaster assistance for Puerto Rico that they did for people in the states. Lacking electricity, safe water, and other basic needs, the new Floridians had to choose statehood for themselves. The resolution points out that polls show that the voters in the group favor statehood.
With more than one million residents of Puerto Rican heritage, Florida must now represent Puerto Ricans in the federal government. Both Democrats and Republicans favor statehood in their party platforms.
The resolution made this point, too, reminding Florida Democrats that the national party voted to support statehood for Puerto Rico in 2017 at their Las Vegas convention. “Therefore,” the resolution concludes, “the Florida Democratic Party supports the self-determination expressed by our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico in their quest to acquire equal rights by becoming a state of the United States.”
If you’re a Florida Democrat, remind your representatives and candidates that support for Puerto Rico statehood is part of the deal. If you’re a Florida Republican, call on your reps and candidates to match the bold step the Democrats have taken. If you live in another state, call on your state party to step up, too. The people who represent you in the government need to hear that statehood matters. Get in touch with them.
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