The author begins by reporting that Puerto Rico voted for statehood on November 3, 2020, but that some people are arguing against respecting the vote on the grounds that Puerto Rico would lose its cultural identity.
“Hawaii enjoys a rich cultural and historical background that, like Puerto Rico, predates the founding of the United States,” Cabrera points out. “Over centuries, Hawaii developed its own identity as a gathering point for Polynesian peoples, with local residents creating their own language, customs and traditions. Later, Hawaii received sizable migrations from Southeast Asia, the Philippines, China and Japan, with these new Hawaii people adding flavors and nuances from their own cultures to the framework of the Hawaiian mosaic.”
As a territory, Hawaii was largely under the control of U.S. corporate interests.
“Like Puerto Rico, Hawaiians faced intrusion over matters of culture because of Hawaii’s territorial status,” says Cabrera. “The teaching of the Hawaiian language in public schools was banned after 1896. That changed after statehood, when the state of Hawaii could block any federal encroachment over matters reserved to the states under the Tenth Amendment. The state of Puerto Rico would have the same powers to thwart any unconstitutional attempts by Washington to dictate language and cultural terms.”
Cabrera reminds his readers not only that Hawaii had been a monarchy, but that Texas was a republic before becoming a state. All 50 states have unique and fascinating histories; Puerto Rico would in this matter be continuing the history of the United States.
“Today, Hawaii is the only Asian-majority state, the most multiracial state, and the most diverse state of the United States. Hawaiians are rightfully proud of their culture and heritage because it is unique and exquisite. More so, Hawaii demonstrates that a territory’s particular history, culture and traditions can thrive after statehood and become a defining characteristic of its membership within the union.”
Cabrera concludes, “In the final analysis, Hawaii exemplifies that a former independent nation, with its own cultural and historical background, and a largely non-Caucasian population, can achieve statehood and rely on its vibrant culture to thrive as a state. In turn, Puerto Ricans should take heed of Hawaii’s example and seek admission as a proud Hispanic state.”
Puerto Rico voted for statehood
Statehood won 53% of the vote in the November 2020 plebiscite on statehood. Like Hawaii, Puerto Rico offered Yes or No options on the question of whether Puerto Rico should become a state. The final results were tallied and certified on December 31, 2020, making the Island’s most recent statehood vote official.