There Has Never Been an Independentista Governor

Ponce de Leon was the first Governor of Puerto Rico under the Spanish crown in the 1400s. Commanding General Nelson A. Miles was the first governor under the U.S. flag four centuries later. Teddy Roosevelt and Rexford Tugwell were among the many governors appointed by the U.S., and Luis Muñoz Marín was the first governor elected under Puerto Rico’s 1952 constitution.

Puerto Rico has had 11 governors since then, but none has represented the Independence Party.

Puerto Rico has three major political parties, each of which is associated with a particular political status. The Popular Democratic Party (PPD) is the “commonwealth” party, represented in the upcoming gubernatorial election by David Bernier. The New Progressive Party (PNP), the statehood party, is represented by candidate Ricardo Rosselló.

Then there is the Puerto Rico Independence Party (PIP). Naturally, they are associated with independence, and they are represented in the upcoming election by Maria de Lourdes Santiago.

There are smaller parties and independent candidates, but the fact is that the only parties who have ever had a winning candidate for governor are the “commonwealth” and the statehood parties.

Independence has also never had more than 5.54% of the vote in any statehood referendum.

This should be taken into account when considering the best status option for Puerto Rico. It would theoretically be possible for Congress to decide that Puerto Rico should become independent, and some of this year’s presidential candidates have spoken in favor of independence. But there is no evidence that the people of Puerto Rico want independence.

Over the past few years, so many people have chosen to leave Puerto Rico in order to live in a state that it is clear that statehood is a popular choice. The 2012 referendum also showed this preference. Recent polls both on the Island and among people from Puerto Rico who have recently come to the United States have also shown statehood as the preferred option. The statehood candidate is now the clear front-runner in the upcoming gubernatorial race.

The current territorial status is not good for Puerto Rico; that much is clear. The idea of “enhanced commonwealth” is an impossible dream. Independence is a viable option under the U.S. Constitution, but not a popular one.

It’s time to recognize that statehood is the choice that provides equality and sovereignty to Puerto Rico.
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