Puerto Rico and the Presidential Debate

The first Trump-Clinton presidential debate is finished. The fact-checking sites have dissected both candidates’ statements, each side has claimed victory, and there may be fewer undecided voters this week than there were last week.

One thing is for certain, though: Puerto Rico was never mentioned, even though the U.S. relationship with Puerto Rico is arguably one of the most important human rights issues facing the nation today. Even though the debate took place in one of the areas with the highest proportion of residents from Puerto Rico in the states.

That’s no surprise. Only a dozen states (or cities in those states) were mentioned, according to 538, and just a handful of issues were covered. Beyond the limits of time, though, the debate was about reaching voters and winning them over. The people of Puerto Rico won’t be represented in the vote for president next month.

That makes Puerto Rico relatively unimportant in a presidential debate.

Unfortunately, it also makes Puerto Rico’s needs and wishes relatively unimportant in Congress.

Right now, Puerto Rico as some momentum in Congress. There is a task force working to come up with legislation that will improve Puerto Rico’s financial position. There is a federally appointed fiscal oversight board determined to work through Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. There is funding set aside for a federally-sponsored plebiscite to settle Puerto Rico’s political status permanently.

We need to seize this momentum now. Tell your congressional representative that Puerto Rico’s status matters to you, that the well being of the three million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico is important, and that you will not accept inaction.

Tell your friends and family to join you. The next presidential debate probably won’t mention Puerto Rico either, but the next presidential election year could be the first one in which Puerto Rico has the opportunity to vote.

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