FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Puerto Rican voters call for statehood! …Mostly. Sort of. Not really at all, actually.
Amidst all the ballyhoo of the Presidential election came this bit of contradiction:
Voters in Puerto Rico have supported a non-binding referendum to become a full US state.
…Tuesday’s vote comes with an asterisk and an imposing political reality: The island remains bitterly divided over its relationship to the United States and many question the validity of this week’s referendum.
Nearly a half million voters chose to leave a portion of the ballot blank. And voters also ousted the pro-statehood governor, eliminating one of the main advocates for a cause that would need the approval of the U.S. Congress.
Yeah, to call Puerto Rican politics ‘complicated’ is not precisely incorrect; but doing so is very wry. There are political parties down there that take positions on the status of the Commonwealth; and the defeated (Republican) governor is of the same pro-statehood New Progressive Party as Puerto Rico’s nonvoting (Democratic) representative in Congress, while the new (Democratic) governor is from a different, pro-Commonwealth political party ([Popular Democratic] Party). Getting details about the Puerto Rican legislative elections has been shockingly difficult, but I finally tracked down an election returns site: it would appear that both halves of the Puerto Rican legislature have flipped to the [Popular Democratic Party]*. So, depending on who you ask, we have a situation where either the Puerto Rican electorate has decided to seek statehood, or… not.
As to what should be done: there have been a lot of arguments on this, and there will be more later. Personally, I take the position that Puerto Ricans on Puerto Rico should have the final say in the matter of whether they should seek statehood, given that they’re the ones who are in the position of being 3.7 million American citizens** without full representation in Congress. I’m fine with them staying a Commonwealth (I personally think that they should in fact go for statehood, if only because the current situation seems to be having a bad effect on their standard of living); I just wish that they were in fact being clearer with this latest vote.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*This conclusion is complicated by the fact that: both houses have at-large legislators; I don’t speak Spanish; and none of the party websites are currently working.
**That’s halfway between Connecticut and Oklahoma’s population, if you need a referent.