Attorney General and Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburgh, Puerto Rico’s Future: A Time to Decide, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2007, pp. 5-6 . The disenfranchisement of the people of Puerto Rico for more than a century, since the United States acquired Puerto Rico, from Spain at the end of the nineteenth century, cannot be squared with our nation’s historic commitments to equality and self-determination, with the international treaties and covenants the United States has joined since World War II, or with other steps the United States has taken during the past 50 years to resolve the political status of territories under U.S. control (e.g. Alaska and Hawaii) [.]
Given the size of Puerto Rico’s population, its economic and strategic importance to the United States, and the changes taking place in Latin America and the Caribbean, the territorial model for U.S. administration of Puerto Rico – under which millions of people remain disenfranchised and without an equal voice at the national level – has become even more of an anachronism.
Past efforts to move Puerto Rico toward a permanent status – as a state or as an independent nation – have foundered, because of lack of interest in and guidance by Congress and because the resulting confusion among residents of Puerto Rico. Plebiscites to consider status option that were held in 1967, 1993, and 1998 have been ineffective and inconclusive.