The first 2020 presidential candidate to support Puerto Rico statehood in a clear public statement is businessman Andrew Yang, running as a Democrat on a platform he calls “A Campaign of Ideas.”
Yang’s campaign website makes his position clear:
Make Puerto Rico a State
Puerto Rico has been a part of the United States for over a century, and yet its people are still denied many of the rights of full citizens because it is a commonwealth of the US instead of a full state. Puerto Ricans overwhelmingly want to be a state, and we should endorse this and make it happen.
Puerto Rico should be a state – they function as one right now without the political rights and bankruptcy protection. If Puerto Ricans looked like Swedes they’d be a state already. We must not only offer them political equality but help them rebuild their economy and infrastructure – it will take time but that’s what Americans do.
Under “Problems to be Solved” on the same page, Yang lists this problem: “Puerto Rico has been a part of the US for over a century but has never been granted the full rights of statehood.” His solution: “Make Puerto Rico a state.”
“As President,” Yang says, ” I will take all steps necessary to promote Puerto Rican statehood as an overdue step toward equality.”
Yang is the author of Smart People Should Build Things: How to Restore Our Culture of Achievement, Build a Path for Entrepreneurs, and Create New Jobs in America and The War on Normal People.
He is the founder of Venture for America, a nonprofit supporting entrepreneurship with training, paying jobs, and startup incubation. The organization’s mission is to “to revitalize American cities and communities through entrepreneurship.” VFA is headquartered in New York City, but focuses on cities like St. Louis and Miami, which are less likely to come to new graduates’ minds but very supportive of startups.
Before Venture for America, Yang worked in corporate law and then in educational and medical software. He was named a Champion of Change by the White House in 2012, and a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship in 2015.