The Juice Media, known for their Honest Government Ads, produced one about Puerto Rico’s status in response to requests.
The video has had nearly 3,000,000 views on Facebook as of this writing, as well as 54,832 on YouTube and sites embedding the video from YouTube.
Their main point: Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States. As Australians, the people of Juice Media understand just as Americans do what it is to be a colony, but they may less reluctant than Americans to call out the U.S. for having a possession.
The United States doesn’t like to think of itself as a colonial power, and therefore doesn’t like to think of Puerto Rico as a colony. But this video makes some strong points in favor of that position.
Watch the video here. Note that there is some strong language, so it may not be safe for work.
“A territory of the United States since 1898… which makes Puerto Ricans U.S. citizens — well, second class citizens, ’cause despite fighting in every one of our wars, they still can’t vote for president and have no representation in Congress.”
These claims are not precisely accurate. Puerto Ricans have indeed fought in every war from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War and have been officially in the U.S. armed forces since they became citizens in 1917. And residents of Puerto Rico can’t vote in presidential elections, nor is there a voting member from Puerto Rico in Congress.
There is, however, a non-voting representative who represents Puerto Rico in Congress.
It’s hard to be fully accurate in a two-minute video that’s intended to be entertaining as well as educational. The video goes on with the same level of general accuracy to examine a series of laws created for Puerto Rico by the U.S. Congress.
No, it isn’t true that Puerto Rico’s minimum wage has been changed to $4.25 an hour (that was an option in PROMESA that the governor never applied), or that PROMESA closed schools (schools have closed, but that is not part of the Act). There are multiple points of view on the Jones Act, and sincere differences of opinion on the tax breaks Puerto Rico has offered to U.S. corporations.
But the popularity of the video and the high level of engagement shown by numerous comments and shares suggest that the United States is ready to pay attention to the status of Puerto Rico, and to the human rights issues created by the unreasonable length of the territorial relationship. Territories of the United States have historically been on a path to statehood, not stuck in the limbo of a territorial relationship. The longer this relationship continues, especially since the 2012 vote rejecting that relationship, the more Puerto Rico looks like a colony.
Increasing awareness throughout the United States — and within Congress, which ultimately makes the decisions for Puerto Rico — will benefit Puerto Rico and ultimately resolve the status question.