Congressman Don Young opened the recent Congressional hearing on Puerto Rico’s debt crisis by saying, “We would not have this problem if Congress followed my advice to make Puerto Rico a state 15 years ago.” He went on to say, “We have neglected Puerto Rico for over 100 years; a territory that should be a state. I say shame on us.”
Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner, said, “Puerto Rico should have been treated equally a long time ago. A long time ago, Puerto Rico should have joined this union.”
Simon Johnson of MIT said, “If Puerto Rico were a state or had been allowed to become a state,” he said firmly, “we would not be here today.”
Rep. Jose Serrano laid the blame for the problems on Puerto Rico’s status, insisting that Puerto Rico’s status must be resolved or the same problems will keep happening.
These experts were not in agreement on everything covered at that hearing, but they were all in agreement on one thing: if Puerto Rico were a state, the current debt crisis would never have happened.
States are in a stronger financial position than territories, as every territory which has become a state can demonstrate. States have rights and responsibilities which help to prevent the kind of vicious circle we see in Puerto Rico’s economy. States also receive more federal support than territories.
Puerto Rico is a lot like a state. But being like a state is not the same as being a state. It’s time to correct the problems. Puerto Rico should be a state now.