“[T]he current dire economic situation of the Puerto Rican debt and health care crisis has seen a litany of proposals put forward by a diverse group of local and national public figures,” writes Peter Fontanes in the National Institute for Latino Policy. He then places Puerto Rico’s current economic problems in a broader context:
[T]he quickest way to remedy the present Puerto Rican dilemma is for the island residents to petition Congress for admission to the Union as a State. Many of the proposed remedies being bantered around by the politicians both on the island and in the states seem to conveniently overlook the fact that the State of Puerto Rico would not have to suffer the indignities of these harsh colonial conditions.
Fontanes suggests that independence could also solve the problems of Puerto Rico’s unequal treatment, but acknowledges that the independence option has never gotten significant support from the people of Puerto Rico. Those who support independence now are not able to offer any plans, he says, that are likely to encourage voters to favor that option more in the future than they have in the past.
Independence and statehood are really the only viable options for Puerto Rico, argues Fontanes, but he also has comments on Puerto Rico’s current territorial status:
There are defenders and even apologists of the present status who feel that relief can come in the form of solutions that seem to bend long recognized constitutional laws governing the relation between the federal government and unincorporated territories. Unfortunately, that approach is becoming tiring to both the Congress and the federal judiciary. It is time for this group to hang it up and let it go.
U.S. officials have said over and over that they will not create a special status for Puerto Rico that would require changes to the U.S. Constitution, so “tiring” may be an understatement. “In short,” Fontanes says, “we are asking that Puerto Rico be treated like a state but do not want the people of Puerto Rico to actually enjoy the benefits of becoming a state!”
At this point, Fontanes reminds readers of the Puerto Rico New York Economic Development Corporation, a planned joint venture between business leaders of New York and Puerto Rico which was planned under Luis Fortuño’s governorship. Fontanes believes that this would be a cost-effective way to encourage economic growth on the island.
The idea of an agency to coordinate the various steps to initiating contract procurement opportunities and economic development projects between the island and New York makes a lot of sense in light of the terrible financial burden the island is facing. Governor Cuomo has already stepped up to the plate and made it clear that he will not sit idly by while the people of Puerto Rico suffer the worst economic plight ever in the history of that island.