One of the concerns about statehood for Puerto Rico is something that has been called “Sports Sovereignty.” Puerto Rico fields teams for the Olympics, the Caribbean Series, and various other sporting events.
Some people are concerned about this because it makes it seem as though Puerto Rico is a separate country. Since they have an Olympics team, which no state has, these people feel, Puerto Rico cannot be a state.
Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor took care of this concern when she wrote,
Without diminishing the pride Puerto Rico rightfully should enjoy in light of its place in the pantheon of international sporting events, we reject as meritless the proposition that classifications made in the context of the organization of such events find application to the construction of federal law.
In other words, participation in the Olympics has no legal meaning when it comes to identifying a country or a state. It doesn’t affect Puerto Rico’s status at all.
The other concern is that Puerto Rico’s status could affect its participation in the Olympics. Some opponents of statehood for Puerto Rico have claimed that Puerto Rico would lose its sports sovereignty — its ability to field teams in international events.
Let’s end the suspense quickly. Richard Carrion, the Chairman of the Finance Commission of the International Olympic Committee, told a Puerto Rican newspaper, “Do not be nervous. Not at all. That will not happen.”
That is, the Committee will not take away Puerto Rico’s ability to have its own Olympic team.
However, Congress can at any time take that ability away from Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico, as a territory of the United States, is under Congress’s “plenary powers” which means that Congress can do whatever it wants with Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has no say in decisions made about it. States have a voice in government and specific rights, but territories have only very limited power. Without the ability to vote for the president, without voting members of Congress and the Senate, Puerto Rico has what it has — be that an Olympics team or a government office or an agreement with another political entity — only if Congress allows it.
In 1948, when the Olympics Committee approved Puerto Rico’s team, the U.S. had the option to object and refuse to allow Puerto Rico to have its own Olympics team, and it could have done so at any time since then. Statehood will not change that.
Statehood will change other things. Puerto Rico will have much greater representation in the government which makes decisions that affect the daily lives of the people of Puerto Rico. Would you like to see that? Sign the petition.
This post was originally written in English and may be being auto-translated by Google.