Some people have claimed that Puerto Rico’s desire for statehood will be ignored by Republicans in Congress because they believe that statehood is a liberal cause or that new Puerto Rican voters will be too liberal for Republicans. Current thinking in the Latino conservative network, however, is to the contrary.
The Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles held a press conference last week to educate people about why statehood is a conservative issue. The roster of Latino and conservative leaders was impressive:
- Former Governor Luis Fortuno (R-PR)
- Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform
- Dr. Richard Land, President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention
- Niger Innis, National Spokesman, Congress of Racial Equality
- Dr. Hernan Padilla, Former Mayor of San Juan, PR
- Alfonso Aguilar, Executive Director, Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles
A primary reason why conservatives support statehood is that it is more in keeping with the U.S. Constitution than the current colonial relationship. Ignoring Puerto Rico’s expressed unwillingness to continue as a territory of the United States places the U.S. in the position of governing without the consent of the governed. “Not only is it not democratic,” said Aguilar,”it goes against the very soul and ideas of the Founding Fathers. We were created as a republic, not an empire.”
Another point that appeals to conservatives is the need for equality. “Being for Puerto Rican statehood is like being against Plessy v. Ferguson,” the Baptist Press quoted Dr. Land as saying in remarks after the conference. “The same court that gave us Jim Crow gave us a new judicially created territorial status for Puerto Rico that was different… only because they were Hispanic.”
“It’s well past time for us to correct the racist, segregationist creation of a long-forgotten Supreme Court,” Land continued, “and to live up to the promises of our founding documents and redeem those promises for the people of Puerto Rico.”
Dr. Padilla expressed the same sentiments, saying, “The unprecedented category of “unincorporated territory” was created by a segregationist Court to prevent a territory inhabited by people of Hispanic origin from becoming a part of the United States.” He went on to say that “in 1922 a U.S. Supreme Court that upheld racial segregation determined that Puerto Rico was still an unincorporated territory because its Justices could not conceive of a faraway island inhabited by Hispanics, rather than Anglo-Saxons, to be a part of this Nation.”
Calling on conservatives to support the Constitution while rejecting the racist errors of a century ago, the LPCPP emphasized the need to respect the vote taken in Puerto Rico in November of 2012 in which 54% of voters rejected the current territorial status of the island and 61% chose statehood as their preferred relationship with the United States. Ignoring this vote, the speakers said, is not acceptable behavior for a nation based on the principles of democracy.