General Question

BronxLens's avatar

Should Puerto Rico be forced to choose between independence and statehood?

Asked by BronxLens (1539points) August 24th, 2008

If so, why hasn’t the Federal Government done so? Right now there are essentially 3 options: the two aforementioned plus the current political status, as a commonwealth, or Associated Free State (ELA) as it’s called in PR.

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17 Answers

JackAdams's avatar

Not “forced,” but “encouraged” might be a better word.

They voted on this very question, several years ago, and opted to remain as they are, a USA trust territory.

They did this so they could have their own separate athletic team at the Olympic Games.

August 24, 2008, 11:23 AM EDT

lefteh's avatar

Very few in Puerto Rico would appreciate statehood. The current level of support is somewhere between 2% and 4%.

BronxLens's avatar

That’s why I used the word’ forced’. Looks like if given the choice the island prefers, as it has done since it became a territory/colony of the US, to just coast through political limbo, without the full entitlements of a state, without the fiscal responsibilities, among other thorny issues.

lefteh's avatar

Support for statehood and support for a commonwealth are about equal.

gooch's avatar

Hawaii did not not want to be a state originally but became a state. I agree they too should be forced to choose. They reap benifits without taxation.

BronxLens's avatar

Although, sending Puertorricans to fight/die in war representing the US is a more dire form of taxation. Socio & politically if you will.

JackAdams's avatar

There was a vote on Hawaiian statehood in 1959, as I recall, and the overwhelming majority voted for statehood, with only the residents of the island of Niihau rejecting it.

August 24, 2008, 12:29 PM EDT

BronxLens's avatar

What were the option Hawaii had when they were in position to choose?

JackAdams's avatar

“Statehood” or “Continue as a Trust Territory”

August 24, 2008, 12:42 PM EDT

BronxLens's avatar

JackAdams, do you have a related info-link?

JackAdams's avatar

No related info-link offhand, but I used to live in Hawaii for 11 years, and that’s how I know.

August 24, 2008, 12:59 PM EDT

galileogirl's avatar

FORCED?? We have been forcing so much in the last 30 years, that people seem to think we have some kind of right to do so. In this country we vote on things. Puerto Ricans have voted several times about their status and have always voted for the status quo. They have made it obvious they don’t want statehood or independence. We have never made statehood very attractive. Can’t you just see Puerto Rico becoming a state and then be invaded by the English-only bigots? And that business of the Navy using their waters for a toxic target range didn’t endear them to Washington either.

If the culturally phobic ever become the majority in this country, we could always cut Puerto Rico loose whether they liked it or not.

Now I would like to ask Bronx what benefit would that bring to the US?

zina's avatar

Just to throw out there that Puerto Ricans are US citizens, must pay taxes, serve in a military draft, and are otherwise governed by US laws and presidents – BUT CANNOT VOTE FOR THEM.

That seems worthy of discussion in terms of what’s referred to as “deficits of democracy”—opposed by all major political parties of Puerto Rico. (as I understand it) It strikes me that if you’re ruled by a president, you should be able to participate in the election. (same goes for national laws, etc)

BronxLens's avatar

Vote on things? Like the ‘vote’ some of our elected officials were tricked to give with misleading information for going to war in Iran? Or the voting in the 2000 Presidential elections (or lack of – thank you Supreme Court), and every purchased vote purchased ,sorry, influenced by lobbyist. And as it was well mentioned, how about the Navy target practice in Vieques for decades? Vieques didn’t vote for that. No, status quo should not be an option. O te peinas o te haces rolos is a common saying in PR (comb your hair or put it up in rollers LoL It’s not a laughing matter, but lets be practical. The current system is not fair to either the US nor PR. The disparity of benefits versus resposibilities is direly askew.

I think that the pervasive fear of becoming a dictatorship like Cuba, as opposed as to a successful country like Liechtenstein, the Cayman Islands, etc., is the leading argument for not going solo. Loosing our identity by grace of statehood reveals the other side of the fear-stroke coin. Both arguments can be better addressed with open conversations that seek solutions in change, as opposed to status quo for fear of the political cuco (the boogeyman) that many paint independence to be. As a side note, believe it or not, I’m more apolitical than so. I just dislike ambivalence in my life.

PR has many sources for self-sustainment, another topic not properly addressed because of, here we go again, lack of unbiased information or the presence of misinformation.

BronxLens's avatar

Galileo, I’ll get back to your question.

marinelife's avatar

I say let Puerto Rico decide its own destiny. We have been imperialist enough in the last eight years to last a few decades!

Knotmyday's avatar

Several reasons: Citizens of Puerto Rico don’t pay Federal Income Tax.

However, they do have social security monies taken out of their pay, and are taxed by the commonwealth at approximately the same rate as the IRS IT, which would double upon implementation of federal standards.

Also, despite having a the healthiest GNP in the Carribean, and the same minimum wage standard as the mainland, half of the population receives federal food stamps. This despite a per-capita GDP of $19, 600.

It would behoove the commonwealth (fiscally) to remain a territory rather than a state.
The quality of life would suffer considerably from full federal taxation of corporations, businesses, and personal income.

While we’re on the subject of finances, the Navy’s withdrawal from Vieques operations resulted in a $300 million deficit in the local economy, despite the ecological necessity.

The thinking people of Puerto Rico have recognized, in three separate plebiscites, that statehood is not to the advantage of the population.

Recently, the administration has been focusing on tourism, which in my opinion promotes greater economic stability than Section 936 or 30a, as over half the labor force is employed by service industry of one kind or other.

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