One of the most common responses to the question of Puerto Rico’s status in the states is something like these responses we’ve recently seen in our social media:
- Let Puerto Rico decide.
- I can’t decide for the people of Puerto Rico. If they want this, I say “welcome aboard”.
- They should do what they want. They should also make a decision. Stop living in limbo!
- Let the Puerto Rico people decide!
- It’s should be up to the residents.
These answers — and we hear them from Members of Congress, too — suggest that Puerto Rico can just make up her mind and get a new status.
That’s not how it works.
Puerto Rico already voted for statehood
Puerto Rico voters have already chosen statehood in three referenda during the 21st century. But a referendum or plebiscite is just a way to find out what citizens want. It isn’t a binding vote. Congress can ignore it, and they have.
As Ricardo Marrero Passapera and Bianca Cardona explain in the video above, Puerto Rico doesn’t have the tools needed to make this decision.
Congress, according to the U.S. Constitution, gets to make all the laws and regulations for territories like Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has no senators and only one non-voting Member of the House. Puerto Rico doesn’t have the right to vote in presidential elections, either.
As Ricardo says, “Those of you who are living in the states and have the right to vote, you have to make the grassroots effort to advocate for statehood.”
“We already know that we want statehood,” adds Bianca, “we’ve made that clear several times. But we need the statehood’s in the states to activate and get excited. You know they can call their congressman or congresswoman, they can call their senators and put pressure on them.”
The American people believe in justice and equality. We have seen that they have compassion for people in other places. The people of Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens. People living in the states have accepted the idea that no-one but the residents of Puerto Rico can have an opinion about the political status of Puerto Rico.
This is false. As Americans, were share values and beliefs, including the belief in justice and equality for all. Speak up for Puerto Rico! Tell your legislators that it’s time to admit Puerto Rico as a state.
Share your story, too. When people know why you support statehood, they will understand the need.