The Power of Discussion

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There’s a lot of activity at our Facebook page. Recently we saw a conversation worth discussing further. In a discussion about whether or not Puerto Rico wants to become a state, one individual wrote,

 Puerto Rico wants it, but do we They are a third world country with nothing to offer this country except more people to go on welfare!!

We could have responded by pointing out the factual errors in this comment. Puerto Rico is not a country at all. There are varied definitions of the term “Third World,” but they don’t apply to Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has a great deal to offer the United States, including a highly educated bilingual population and a very beautiful tourist destination with a high level of biodiversity. “Welfare” refers to government assistance for people in poverty, and Puerto Rico currently receives such assistance, just as the 50 States do. Since the economic position of territories improves when they become states, statehood would probably result in fewer Puerto Ricans requiring assistance.

Another visitor responded in a different way:

Who’s “we”? Third world country? Welfare? Do you believe all Puerto Ricans are the same? Generalizations always build up false presumptions. Please, tell me where did you get that Puerto Rico is a third world country? By the way, welfare through federal funds have been in Puerto Rico for many years. Welfare will not be new in Puerto Rico if we become a state.

Are all Americans racists, mean spirited, uninformed? I don’t think so. It is easy to point your finger at someone that you barely know. Mingle with Puerto Ricans, visit our island, learn about us and once you have had the real experience, your opinion will not be based on limited ideas. There is enough bigotry going around in this world and it is not making our country, America, any better.

By the way, Puerto Ricans are American citizens. Our brave men and women serve in America’s armed forces. Like any other American citizen we fight for all citizens to have the right to live free and to keep our freedom of speech. They also die for your rights. We take it as a privilege to have the same responsibility as any other American. We have a lot to offer. America is the land of opportunity, where anyone can work hard and become what they desire. When you begin to demean anyone in our country, what you want to say is that you are better than us.

…Finally, there may be a group of Americans that would not like Puerto Rico to become a state. On the other hand, there are others who would welcome us with open arms. Obviously, you are not talking on behalf of all Americans. There is a process for the annexation of Puerto Rico to the USA. Let the process take care of the matter. You can be opposed to it. That is fine. Make sure your opinion is based on facts, not misconceptions or feelings. I hope that this bit of response to your comment will drive you to be more informed about any subject you talk about.

We were pleased to see a response from the original poster:

I stand corrected You are right, my knowledge of Puerto Rico is limited! Thanks for taking the time to address this issue!!

The other poster also responded:

Your are welcome. I hope you do not take it personal. I have a great deal of respect for people that understand when they make a mistake. My respects to you.

What we see here is not a surprising misunderstanding about Puerto Rico’s potential statehood, nor a surprising reaction from someone with a different point of view. What we see is that people can discuss misunderstandings in a civilized way and learn from one another. Even people who seem to start out from a position of ignorance and bigotry can be swayed with facts and sincere political discourse.

We know that there are different points of view on statehood for Puerto Rico. We respect those differences. We also believe that we can — by sharing facts — achieve action that will lead to self-determination and equal rights for Puerto Rico.

Please contact your legislators and share with them the fact that equal rights for Puerto Rico matters to you. Sign the petition and help us show Washington that this issue matters to the people of Puerto Rico and the United States as a whole. Download The Case for Statehood and share it with your friends in Spanish or in English.

Puerto Rico has been an unincorporated territory for more than a century. The people of Puerto Rico have been citizens for nearly a century. It is time for change. Help us make that change.

This post was originally written in English and may be being translated automatically by Google.

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