Attorney Willie Santana spoke before the Tennessee General Assembly this week on a resolution to support statehood for Puerto Rico. The resolution, introduced by Rep. Goins, calls for the State of Tennessee to support Puerto Rico as the 51st State of the United States.

Tennessee was the first territory to become a State,” Santana said, going on to describe the challenges faced by Tennessee on their path to statehood. “I submit to you that maintaining the territorial status of Puerto Rico is contrary to the principles of self-governance and self-determination that America was founded upon.”

“Puerto Ricans on the Island remain sentenced to second class citizenship,” Santana continued, pointing out that residents of Puerto Rico, though they pay taxes and fight in the U.S. armed forces, cannot vote in presidential elections and do not have voting representation in the legislature.

“In our nation’s history, Tennessee has never shied away from taking leadership [and] doing what’s right,” Santana declared. “There are 3.5 million Americans living on the Island of Puerto Rico who had no voice in the government with supreme power over them. Tennessee should support her sister state in the Caribbean.”

Questions from Assembly members included one on the debt. “The issue of status is central to that problem, not tangential to it,” Santana responded. “As citizens on the mainland, we’re more likely to get stuck with Puerto Rico’s debt if Puerto Rico remains a territory than we would if Puerto Rico became a state and had more control over their affairs.”

Other questions included the most common questions we see here. The legislators asked whether Puerto Ricans were citizens of the United States, whether they had to have visas to come to the States, whether Hawaii had once been a territory, whether the people of Puerto Rico could vote in presidential elections, and whether Puerto Ricans pay taxes.

The members of the Assembly, even though they are well-informed individuals with responsibility for their state, had many of the same confusions people in the States often have about Puerto Rico.

They also asked the chances of Puerto Rico’s actually becoming a state. Representative Goins answered that both political parties’ political platforms currently support self-determination for Puerto Rico, and that both the governor and the residential commissioner of Puerto Rico support statehood. He expressed optimism that Puerto Rico would be able to achieve statehood.

The members of the Assembly, once they understood the position of Puerto Rico as a territory, were very supportive.

The resolution passed unanimously in the subcommittee and now goes on to the full committee.

If you live in the States, this is an opportunity to take action toward gaining equality for Puerto Rico. Would your State support Puerto Rico’s demand for statehood? Contact your legislators and suggest it.


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11 Responses

  1. I happen to have been born in Puerto Rico back in 1948 and have always been proud of being a Puerto Rican, and at the same time I’ve always been very proud of being a US citizen. I fly my US flag in front of my home and always will. I’ve lived in the US all of my life and I believe this is the greatest country in the world. PR51.

    • John I also was born in PuertoRico and raised all my life in a great state and that’s the Garden State (New Jersey) and yes I also had our greatest Nation flag in front of my porch. I’m now living in the Enchanted Island of Puerto Rico with my wife that I met here and yes I bought a house near the beach and yes I also have my greatest Nation flag in my porch with pride and yesssssss I support Statehood for the Pearl of the Caribbean PuertoRico USA Hooooaaahhhhh 51

  2. I was born in PR. Puerto Rico is not a state is a US territory. We have the US citizenship but we can’t vote for the President. We have a Comisioner in the US Congress that has no vote. Do you really think is fair for us to be a US colony and to be for over 100 yrs in a political LIMBO?

  3. I’m a mainlander from Alabama. As far as i’m concerned, with all of PR being U.S. citizens, with one of our associate judges being a child of PR citizens, Puerto Rico should have been a State almost 50 years ago. The status quo has gone on for far too long. I hope that the next plebicite vote result is statehood, and Congress admits you guys as a STATE!

    • I was born and raised in the state of NY. My parents were born in PR and I am really really proud of being a US citizen. I have always been proud of being part of this great nation where liberty is not merely a word or concept. Now I live in the island of PR and I really hope we get to be the 51st state of the great US nation.

      • Wait until you start paying Federal taxes as well as the so-called “debt” the island owes to the political/financial shysters.

        • Former Resident Commissioner estimated that 70% of Puerto Ricans — like nearly half of the residents of the States — would not owe any money for federal income tax. Many would instead receive credits.

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