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What Would Independence for Puerto Rico Look Like?

An anonymous draft of a bill for Puerto Rico independence has been circulating in social media. This draft has never been introduced into Congress and is not being considered in any serious way.  No Congressional office is claiming ownership, and Congress will certianly adjourn for the November election before the bill would be able to receive any attention.

However, the draft does provide some hints about what independence for Puerto Rico could look like.

Here are some of the salient features of the proposed bill for independence.

Puerto Rico will get less federal money.

The draft stipulates that Puerto Rico will be independent within seven years of the date that the bill hypothetically becomes law. During those seven years, Puerto Rico would receive the same federal funds currently being sent with no increases, plus three million dollars a year, earmarked for certain expenses. This funding is refered to as “transitional assistance” under the bill; financial support would be phased out over the course of a decade.

This would mean that Puerto Rico would initially have some additional support, and in 20 years would have no guaranteed financial assistance from the U.S. Of course, the federal government might provide an additional $3,000,000 to the territory of Puerto Rico in any of those years. As a state, Puerto Rico could expect additional billions of dollars in support, rather than a few million.

But it is logical that the United States would not continue to support a foreign country.

Puerto Ricans would not be U.S. citizens.

The draft proposes that the people of Puerto Rico, who have been patriotic citizens of the United States for nearly a century, could keep their current U.S. citizenship or renounce it upon enactment. New residents of Puerto Rico — children born there or naturalized Puerto Rican citizens — would not have U.S. citizenship. The draft also includes a 10-year visa waiver which would allow Puerto Ricans to travel to the U.S. freely for that decade.

Current U.S. citizens could keep their Social Security, Medicare and military pension benefits under this draft, but there would be no new benefits.

Of course, the United States would not have to agree to these terms — nor would Puerto Rico.  As with any treaty, one side cannot force another to the bargaining table.  But this is a possible deal.

Puerto Rico and the United States would be friends.

The draft includes a treaty of friendship between Puerto Rico and the United States.

Under the draft, Puerto Rico would continue to use the U.S. dollar, and the U.S. Federal Building in San Juan would become the U.S. embassy building. The U.S. would help Puerto Rico transition to a local police force and would have a 50 year lease of Ft. Buchanan. Puerto Rico would be included in NAFTA.

View the draft.

This draft is not an actual bill in Congress. A real bill for independence for Puerto Rico might look different. But the draft does give a possible forecast of how independence might look for Puerto Rico, and how the U.S. Congress might structure Puerto Rico’s independence. Certainly, Puerto Rico could expect less financial support from the United States. The people of Puerto Rico should expect to lose their U.S. citizenship. And there could be a treaty between the United States and Puerto Rico, but Puerto Rico would not have total control over the terms.

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