The current status of Puerto Rico is and has been in a state of disarray now ongoing for 112 years. Puerto Ricans living on the Island do not receive equal benefits as citizens residing in the states and it is likely that under their current status Puerto Ricans will likely receive less federal benefits for the foreseeable future.
Statehood would provide first class U.S. Citizenship to Puerto Ricans with full rights under the U.S. Constitution. In such order, Puerto Rico would then have a full delegation of elected representatives and senators to the U.S. Congress and the Island would be able to vote for President for the first time. Statehood would unquestionably provide the Island with some level of economic growth, however some question if giving up Sovereignty is too high a price to pay.
In 2012 Puerto Rico will conduct an impartial two-part plebiscite. The Island would first vote on whether to remain a U.S. Territory under Article IV of the U.S. Constitution or seek a sovereignty-granting alternative. If Puerto Ricans decide to maintain the current territorial status, the bill would authorize the Government of Puerto Rico to conduct a referendum every eight years until the status issue is resolved.
However, if the people of Puerto Rico vote to change the island’s status, a second vote would offer Puerto Ricans the opportunity to choose between constitutionally valid options:
a) Statehood within the Union
c) Sovereignty in Free Association
The bill must pass the U.S. Senate during the current Congress and be sent to President Obama in order to be passed into law. Any congressional action after Congress adjourns in December will require new legislation in the next Congress.
As the 51st State of the Union, Puerto Rico stands to gain in numerous ways including:
- Gaining constitutionally-guaranteed citizenship with full political rights and responsibilities.
- Equally share government benefits.
- Economic growth for the Island.
- Improved quality of living.
- Gain Tax relief
- Full participation in Federal programs
- Improved Healthcare
Statehood however, is not for everyone on the island. Some would rather Puerto Rico become an independent country. Puerto Ricans are a proud people and love sports and competition. Without its sovereignty, not only would Puerto Rico stand to lose its Spanish heritage and culture, it will forever lose its right to compete as a nation.
Those opposed to statehood also argue that the current commonwealth provides more flexibility and a stronger control of their destiny. Having “best of both worlds” the island would to get some federal benefits. Their opposition also points out the island would be subject to federal income taxes, something new for Puerto Rico. Evidence shows that the Puerto Rico state income tax burden is already excessive and disproportionate to incomes when compared with the states. An additional Federal Tax could further erode the weak economy on the island.
The real question is why would the United States want Puerto Rico to become the 51st State of the Union?
The U.S. Congress can no longer continue to operate Puerto Rico as a Colony. Someone’s loss is another gain. The time has come for the United States to listen to Puerto Rico and the International community’s demand of their right to sovereignty and the island is projected to favor statehood and it should be granted without question.
Puerto Ricans have earned it through their positive influence in U.S. society; politically, economically and culturally. Puerto Ricans has showed unquestioned support for the U.S. and has participation in every war since the Spanish American War in 1898. In the process, hundreds of thousands have made the ultimate sacrifice to maintain the values provided to us under the U.S. Constitution. An investment in Puerto Rico would lead to an economic system that would actually contribute to the U.S. rather than continue to be a cost to the U.S. taxpayer.
English is already an official language on the island and Puerto Ricans are already citizens of the U.S. The Puerto Rican economy is based on the U.S. dollar so granting statehood would not create any major hurdles.
However, what could become a major hurdle would be for Puerto Rico to become independent. With an already poor economy, independence would create the need for the Island, lacking significant natural resources, to seek economic aid and free access to small & large markets like the U.S. Some of those already showing support of Puerto Rico’s independence include Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador, and others including Iran.
It is in this light lies the greatest reason for the United States to accept Puerto Rico as the 51st State in the Union. They are the very same reasons why the Spaniards made Puerto Rico a favorite jewel…a great gateway to the new world. Puerto Rico provides a great strategic location for the U.S. or for others looking to expand operations in North, Central & South America. With China’s expanding economy and Brazil already unimpressed by U.S. relations after years of neglect could lead to the U.S. losing their grip in Latin America and the Caribbean.
So at the end of the day, the reasons why Puerto Rico will become the Unions’ 51st State is because it strengthens U.S. Military capabilities in Central and South America, would promote National Security and would keep Communism from spreading further in the Americas. Lastsly, but not least to Puerto Ricans…we have earned it.