On November 3rd, Puerto Rico will have another opportunity to vote for its preferred status. A YES vote will support statehood. A NO vote will reject statehood. If the vote comes in as “no,” then Congress can ignore Puerto Rico’s status for a while.
A YES vote, however, will be a vote for equality.
Under the U.S. Constitution, every state is on an equal footing with every other state. The federal government is legally allowed to treat an unincorporated territory like Puerto Rico differently from the states, but states must be treated equally.
Puerto Rico will have the sovereignty of a state, and the rights and responsibilities of a state.
Residents of Puerto Rico will have full participation in American democracy, with the power to vote for the president and also to elect senators and members of Congress.
Why would anyone vote against equality?
On the Island, the “commonwealth” party is saying there are “innumerable reasons to vote no.” They can’t seem to come up with any examples, but this is not surprising. Puerto Rico already knows what it is to be a territory.
- In 2012, the anti-statehood faction tried to count all blank questions on the ballot as votes for their side.
- In 2017, the anti-statehood factions combined to boycott the vote. Nobody boycotts a vote they can win.
- In 2020, two representatives for New York tried to delay the vote (for years).
These behaviors show that the anti-statehood factions know the majority of Puerto Ricans want statehood. They do not expect to be able to win the vote this year, any more than they could have won in 2012 or 2017. Their only hope is to discredit the vote.
Do they get something better than equality under the current status? Or are they still deceived by the idea that Puerto Rico can have “the best of both worlds”?
The “self-determination” bill, HR 8113, is hawking the same “status assembly” idea that the “commonwealth” party has been clamoring for over the decades. The plan is to sidestep the will of the voters of Puerto Rico, and to come up with a new fantasy plan in back room meetings. They don’t want equality. Maybe they want something that will benefit a minority of people and not the majority of Puerto Ricans.
Get out the vote for equality
A massive YES vote in November will make it hard for Congress to ignore the will of the people. We need that vote in Puerto Rico. We also need people living in the states to help educate Congress and encourage them to take action after the plebiscite. Please vote, wherever you live. Please ask your friends and family to vote. And please contact your legislators and make sure they know their constituents care about statehood and equality for Puerto Rico.
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