Puerto Rico’s Place in U.S. Political Life

Howard Hills, author of Citizens Without A State, discusses the underlying causes that allow Puerto Rico to be treated differently from states.

“Citizenship,” Hills says, “is the right to vote for representation in Congress and the right to be represented in the Electoral College… Voting is not a right of national citizenship. It’s a right of state citizenship.”

The history of Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States is complicated. The current situation is not that complicated, though.

“The main reason Puerto Rico doesn’t get treated the way states get treated,” Hills points out, “is because it doesn’t have voting representation in the Electoral College that selects the president —¬† and the president and the Congress select the Supreme Court.”

The federal government can’t make Puerto Rico equal to the states by fiat. Any special treatment Puerto Rico receives under Congress now can be taken away by a future Congress.

Only statehood gives permanent rights and responsibilities to the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico.

“Statehood provides an equal footing and participation,” Hills points out. Only with the permanent relationship of statehood can Puerto Rico get the level playing field it deserves. “Our system only works when you have equal rights.”

Hills reminds listeners that every territory had people who were getting rich off of that territory. Those people didn’t want statehood, even though statehood has led to prosperity for every territory that has become a state. “Our country is a success story of how racism has been overcome and defeated.” Bringing Puerto Rico into the Union, he says, is the next step in the inspiring story of our nation.

The video also shows discussion of the autonomist movement and the conflicts of the 20th century.

Watch the video, and tell us what you think.

In December only, you can also receive Citizens Without A State for free.

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