Edwin Rivera explains that Puerto Rico has a Resident Commissioner, Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon, but no voting Members of Congress, no senators, and no right to vote in presidential elections.

“That’s not real democracy,” he says. “We need representation like any other state.”

The people of Puerto Rico have chosen statehood, he points out, through a democratic process of self-determination. Puerto Rico voters have in fact voted for statehood three times: that’s every status vote held in this century.

A beacon of democracy?

As early as 1918, one year after Puerto Ricans acquired birthright U.S. citizenship, then-President Woodrow Wilson described the United States as a beacon of democracy in a speech. How can the United States be a beacon of democracy when over 3 million U.S. citizens are left out of the basic democratic processes in the United States, just because they live in Puerto Rico?

That is not the kind of democracy Edwin Rivera believes in. The Ngram reader chart below shows that the phrase “a beacon of democracy” became more popular throughout the 20th century, hitting its peak in books in 2006. President Biden continues to use the phrase to describe America in his speeches.

Share Your Story

Join Edwin and many more statehood activists in sharing your story. What personal views and experiences cause you to champion statehood for Puerto Rico? Share your story with us and let us amplify your voice and share it with others!


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