Donovan J. Belcher Ortiz told us that statehood for Puerto Rico will be “a dream come true.”
His family moved to Puerto Rico from Orlando, Florida, when he was in fourth grade. Even then, Donovan says, he could tell the difference in quality of life between life in a state and in a territory.
His family didn’t have much of an income when living in the states, he said, and he didn’t speak Spanish well, but he still felt that he had been receiving a better education in his stateside home than in Puerto Rico.
Even at that young age, Donovan could see the difference in funding and support for schools in Puerto Rico and on the mainland. It matters, he says. He is pleased that he was able to graduate with honors. “Education is basically the best weapon that we have to defend ourselves,” Donovan said.
Donavan shared the story of meeting an immigrant in the United States who didn’t know about the inequality faced by Puerto Rico until he learned about it from Donovan. “How is it possible,” the man asked him, “that you guys have American citizenship but you cannot vote on the president?”
The lack of representation Puerto Rico faces in the federal government is an obstacle for the Island.
“I feel privileged to be part of a community that is fighting for… a real purpose,” he said, “something that is really needed in Puerto Rico: the equality that statehood brings us.”
His dream for the future state of Puerto Rico is of an opportunity to reach their potential.
“We work really hard,” he said. “We know that we can contribute enormously to this nation.” He looks forward to a time when Puerto Ricans living in the states can choose to live on the Island with the same rights and the same quality of life they have in the states.
We appreciate Donovan’s sharing his experience with us. He is part of our series on Voices of Statehood. Would you like to share your story?