People living in Puerto Rico do not want independence. 5% is the highest proportion of votes this option has ever received on the Island. People of Puerto Rican heritage living in states are more likely to favor independence than those living on the Island. With the romantic associations of independence in the American heart and no chance of having to live through the hardships independence would bring, they are more likely to make that choice.
The current territorial status is less appealing. It allows unequal treatment of people living in Puerto Rico, as evidenced by the different treatment the territory receives in areas like federal healthcare funding, Social Security, infrastructure investment, and lack of participation in the federal government.
It can have some financial advantages for some people, and those people may favor continuing as a territory
However, a new poll shows that even among the diaspora, as people from Puerto Rico settling in the states are sometimes called, statehood is the top choice.
Statehood vs. Independence
A new scientific poll of 1,000 Puerto Ricans living in six different states found that three quarters would choose statehood over independence.
Respondents were presented with two statements:
- “Person 1 would prefer that Puerto Rico become a state, so that it can enjoy the rights and privileges other states have”
- “Person 2 would prefer that Puerto Rico become an independent nation, so that it can be totally separate and not reliant on the United States.”
15% agreed with the statement of Person #2, who wants independence. This is a higher proportion than the 5% of Puerto Ricans living on the Island who have voted for independence, but still is a small fraction of the total. 10% were unsure.
75% agree that Puerto Rico should become a state.
What about territory status?
With all three possible status options included, the number of people who are unsure remained at 10%. Responses favoring independence fell to 11%.
62% chose to become a state.
When Americans in general living in the states are asked their opinion, about two thirds generally favor statehood. When Puerto Ricans living in the states were asked, they also showed a clear majority preference for statehood.
Voters in Puerto Rico also favor statehood.
Why is there such a general agreement that statehood is the best status choice for Puerto Rico? Statehood ends the colonial relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States. It guarantees equality and justice for Puerto Rico. It gives Puerto Rico a full voice in American democracy.
The Independence movement may make some noise, but it is not representative of Puerto Rico or of Puerto Ricans, in the states or on the Island. Congress is unlikely to force independence on an unwilling territory. Statehood is the solution for decolonization.
See the survey data for yourself: