Almost a year ago, Gabe Gonzalez shared a video on Mic complaining that his mom, because she had moved back to Puerto Rico, no longer had the right to vote for the people who made the rules for the territory.
In that video, Gonzalez said, “I don’t think the solution is as cut and dried as statehood or independence”.
Here are the facts:
- Puerto Rico is a territory belonging to the United States. Territories do not have the same rights as states. They don’t have equal representation in the House and Senate, so they don’t have a full voice in U.S. democracy. With over three million U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico, it seems particularly unreasonable that Puerto Rico doesn’t have the sovereignty of a state, but as long as the Island is a territory, that’s the law.
- In the U.S., voting for president isn’t a “one person, one vote” situation. Instead, the residents of each state vote for Electors. Then the Electors for the states vote in the Electoral College. Twice during this century, the popular vote has been different from the Electoral College vote. As a territory, Puerto Rico doesn’t have Electors, so the Island has no vote in the presidential elections.
So here it is: as a state, Puerto Rico will have a say in the presidential election, will have full representation in the House and Senate, and can’t be used “as a resort for rich investors.” That is actually the solution for the problems Gonzalez describes in his video. As he points out himself, states aren’t treated like territories.
Independence is the other option under the U.S. Constitution. That is, if Puerto Rico doesn’t want to be a territory, Puerto Rico can become a state, or declare independence. That’s about it. Independence is not popular in Puerto Rico.
The idea of a special relationship of “enhanced commonwealth” has been rejected over and over by the U.S. You hear people who are opposed to statehood saying that Puerto Rico can’t become a state because the U.S. won’t accept Puerto Rico as a state. This is a sad thought, but it is not based on reality. The U.S. has not rejected a petition for statehood for Puerto Rico. But the U.S. has rejected Puerto Rico’s requests for “enhanced commonwealth.” Repeatedly. That’s the fantasy option.
So the solution is pretty cut and dried. Statehood solves the problems Gonzalez outlines in that video. And statehood will be on the June 11th ballot. Gabe’s mom can vote in that referendum.
So, Mr. Gonzelez, as the vote draws near, have you changed your mind? Are you ready to support statehood, or would you rather leave Puerto Rico in political limbo while the “commonwealth” continues to try to force the United States to agree to some kind of special deal?