August 8th, Puerto Rico’s new Governor said the day after she was sworn into office that statehood would not be a priority for her administration.
The statement by Wanda Vazquez Garced was obviously surprising since:
- she got the job through the election of a governor who ran on statehood being the territory’s priority
- statehood is the territory’s official goal based on two fair plebiscites that chose equality and democracy within the U.S. over the islands’ other political status options
- the new Governor was Secretary of Justice when the second plebiscite was conducted and a law providing for the territorial government to seek statehood was enacted
- she personally favors statehood and is a member of the political party that was founded to seek statehood, the New Progressive Party.
It was also surprising, however, for more important reasons.
- The lack of statehood denies the three million Americans of Puerto Rico votes in the government that makes their national laws and that ultimately determines their local laws affecting finances – a democratic form of government at the national and local levels.
- The lack of statehood enables Puerto Rico and these Americans to be treated worse than equally with their fellow citizens.
- The different treatment has long hindered the islands’ economic and social development, contributed to an economic depression that lasted for 10 1/2 of the 11 1/2 years that only ended due to assistance for devastating hurricanes in September 2017, and promises bleak economic prospects for the future.
- The lack of statehood means that Puerto Rico does not qualify for the disaster aid given States.
- The lack of statehood has resulted in so many Puerto Ricans, Americans by birth, abandoning the territory for a State for equal opportunity that 65% of all people of Puerto Rican origin now live in a State.
- The lack of statehood denies hundreds of thousands of low-income Americans in Puerto Rico Federal Medicaid assistance given to residents of the States and denies those who get Federal medical assistance many of the services and much of the benefit given to residents of the States, billions of dollars a year in health care.
- The lack of statehood denies elderly and disabled Americans and medical providers in Puerto Rico all of the Medicare benefits provided in the States.
- The lack of statehood denies hundreds of thousands elderly and disabled Americans who cannot possibly support themselves essential assistance for living, billions of dollars a year.
- The lack of statehood denies millions of low-income Americans in Puerto Rico hundreds of millions of dollars in Earned Income Tax Credit payments.
- The lack of statehood denies hundreds of thousands of low-income American families in Puerto Rico hundreds of millions of dollars in Child Tax Credit payments.
- The lack of statehood denies hundreds of thousands of low-income Americans in Puerto Rico Federal food assistance and denies those who get it the same amount of food aid given residents of the States.
- The lack of statehood denies Americans in Puerto Rico essential living assistance when the family breadwinner is temporarily out of work.
- The equal representation that the lack of statehood includes two U.S. senators, four U.S. representatives, and six votes in the Electoral College that picks the president and the vice president of the United States.
Governor Vazquez’s statement would be more understandable if she wanted Puerto Rico to become a nation separate from the U.S. Her position, however, supports it unacceptably remaining a mere possession of the U.S. and continuing to fail as an unincorporated territory.