As the June 11 plebiscite draws near, press and social media coverage of Puerto Rico’s status have increased. One recent blog post on the topic comes from attorney John E. Mudd, who has taken on arguments against Puerto Rico statehood.
“We all know,” he begins, “that our status is largely responsible for the problems we live with.” Mudd reminds readers that there was a clear vote for statehood in 2012 and reiterates that Puerto Rico has neither sovereignty nor a vote in the U.S. Congress without statehood. “Statehood unites you, forever, to the largest democracy and the most powerful nation in the world”
“Clearly,” he writes, “the [current territorial option] does not resolve the status and had been rejected just 5 years ago. Bringing it back is a crude act of colonialism that required the most energetic rejection and the fastest lawsuit.”
Mudd lists and addresses the common objections to statehood.
- Loss of culture. There are now more Puerto Ricans in the States than on the Island, Muddlaw points out, and he says from his own experience that there is no danger of loss of culture once Puerto Rico is a state.
- Olympics and beauty pageant participation. Muddlaw reminds readers that Puerto Rico was accepted into the Olympics in 1948, before Congress approved Puerto Rico’s constitution, and that as a private entity the Olympics Committee can decide to keep or reject Puerto Rico under any status. He also questions the implication that Puerto Rican athletes and beauty queens will be unable to compete successfully once Puerto Rico is a state. U.S. competitors represent their states as well as their nation, and Puerto Rico will continue to field impressive competitors. Muddlaw also suggests that putting sports sovereignty ahead of the needs of Puerto Rico’s elderly is a mistake.
- Spanish language. Puerto Rico will not be the state with the largest number of Spanish speakers, and the U.S. has the second largest number of Spanish speakers in the world. Muddlaw notes that English was the official language in schools for this first third of the 20th century, and that did not cause people to forget Spanish. He also notes that the 10th amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not allow the federal government to discriminate against states — though it is allowed to discriminate against territories by treating them differently from states.
- Federal financial support for Puerto Rico. The 2014 report from the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) said that Puerto Rico would receive billions in additional funding under statehood.
- Federal income taxes. Mudd says that 70% of Puerto Rico’s residents will not pay income taxes, and that many will receive tax credits that they cannot have as residents of a territory.
Mudd concludes by asking protestors not to keep others from voting on June 11th. “That is illegal,” he says, “and violates the most fundamental right, the right to vote.”