Puerto Rico’s Stephanie Del Valle is Miss World 2016, the second Miss World from Puerto Rico. The first was Wilnelia Merced, who won the title in 1975, 41 years ago.

Del Valle, a 19 year old student, goes to school in New York City. She is one of the millions of Puerto Ricans who have chosen to live in a state. She expressed excitement about representing Puerto Rico, saying it made her proud to do so. As one of the 5 million Puerto Ricans living on the U.S. mainland, Del Valle has the ability to vote in presidential elections, unlike the fewer than 3.5 million still living in Puerto Rico.

Some in Puerto Rico gain a lot of satisfaction from being included among the “100 countries” participating in Miss World pageants. As a state of the United States of America, Puerto Rico might lose the opportunity to compete in Miss World pageants. If that were to happen, Puerto Rico could be giving up a couple of international titles a century.

Here are some numbers from the Census Bureau for comparison:

  • Puerto Rico’s population decreased by nearly 7% between 2010 and 2015.
  • Puerto Rico’s poverty rate, 46.1%, is three times higher than the poorest of the 50 states.
  • The median household income in Puerto Rico is $19,350.

As a territory, with very limited voice in the U.S. government which makes Puerto Rico’s laws, with no senators and just one non-voting representative in Congress, Puerto Rico is in the same position as other territories of the United States were in the past.

Once those territories, including Alaska and Hawaii, became states, they enjoyed much higher levels of prosperity and much more power than they had as territories. 32 U.S. territories have become states, and every one benefited from that change.

Puerto Rico as a state will have full representation, full rights of citizenship,  full rights as a state, and a measure of sovereignty that the Island does not now have. Would that be a fair trade for a Miss World sash?



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