Blank ballots in Hawaii territorial status referendum not counted! Alaska Governor denounces U.S. colonialism in territory! U.S. delegation to United Nations criticized in 1959 because independence was not on status referendum ballots! Alaska appeals for immediate “decolonization” of territory and removal from U.N. list of colonial possessions!

Yes, we have all been here before! In Hawaii the options were immediate admission as a state or “remain a territory.” Turnout in Hawaii was 45% but of that minority among eligible voters over 90% chose statehood. In Alaska turnout was 90%, and vote for statehood was 67%.

In U.N.-observed plebiscites in 1983 the U.S. administered territories of the Pacific under U.N. trusteeship system used the same two-tier ballot Puerto Rico employed in 2012 to achieve an informed majority vote not possible with a single list of options. Continued U.N. trusteeship was disapproved, and free association was approved over independence or U.S. unincorporated territory status with the same limited U.S. citizenship as Puerto Rico.

Votes for free association in the Marshall Islands, Palau and Micronesia were accepted by U.S. Congress, U.S. federal courts, and the United Nations. Their decision was based on the right of independence preserved by the power of U.S. and the associated state to unilaterally terminate their compacts of free association in favor of full independence. That meant free association was an interim status consistent with independence, and on that basis all three new free associated states were admitted as full embers of the United Nations.

Over 70% blank ballots on options other than free association in Marshall Islands were not counted or deducted from the majority vote for free association.

So get over it, Puerto Rico. The choices are statehood, independence with or without a voluntary treaty of free association, or “remain a territory.” There is a lot that is unique and special about Puerto Rico, whether it becomes a state, remains a territory or becomes a sovereign nation. But there is nothing new or unique about the status options that the Commonwealth of the Philippines faced before becoming a republic, or 32 territories faced before becoming states.

The time to decide is here and now.



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