Puerto Rico Rejects Its Colonial Status

The Hill’s Congress Blog has a new article, Puerto Rico rejects its present colonial status; wants statehood in which authors José M. Saldana DMD, MPH and Norman Maldonado MD, MACP review the results of the November, 2012, plebescite:

“Do you agree that Puerto Rico should continue to have its present form of territorial status (Commonwealth)?”

• Yes: 46 percent
• No: 54 percent

“Irrespective of your answer to the first question, indicate which of the following non-territorial options you prefer.”

• Statehood: 61 percent
• Sovereign Free Associated State: 33 percent
• Independence: 5 percent

These were the questions and the answers. The current ruling party in Puerto Rico does not accept these results, and hopes to have yet another referendum including the current territorial status or a “fantasy island” version of it.

Saldana and Maldonado object to this idea. “While the results of last November’s Plebiscite are clear and were ratified by the White House,” they say, ” we would endorse the president’s call for another Plebiscite under federal auspices… so that the results cannot be disputed by any of the political parties on the island.”

“However,” they continue, “we would reject the inclusion of the current territorial, colonial status in any future plebiscite given that the current status has already been resoundingly rejected by a clear majority of the people of Puerto Rico and does not provide a permanent resolution to the status problem because it itself is the problem.”

The current status is indeed a problem, and the source of continuing problems for Puerto Rico:

Saldana and Maldonado make a valid point: the current status has been rejected already by the majority of Puerto Rican voters. If there was confusion over the ballot last November, and there is no real reason to think there was, then repeating the same questions could lead to continued uncertainty. The current goal is to gain a definite answer on the will of the people of Puerto Rico. Saldana and Maldonado take a clear position on the question:

Puerto Rico deserves to become the 51st State of the Union with the same rights that legislation pending in the U.S. Senate would grant to 11 million of undocumented immigrants in this country. After all, we have been American citizens since 1917 and more than 200,000 of us have honorably served in the U.S. Armed Forces and have fought and died for our democratic way of life.

With the territorial relationship already rejected, the only real options are statehood or independence. Saldana and Maldonado prefer statehood, but those who prefer independence should also be in support of a clear vote and action. As Saldana and Maldonado say in the conclusion of their piece, “It would be a very unfair and undemocratic act of prejudice on the part of Congress to ignore the plight for equality of 3.7 million of American citizens.”

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