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Fuerte San Felipe del Morro, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
H.R. 3024 requires a referendum to be held by December 31, 1998, on Puerto Rico's path to self-government either through U.S. statehood or through sovereign independence or free association. It requires the President to submit to the Congress for approval legislation for: (1) a transition plan of at least ten years which leads to full self-government for Puerto Rico; and (2) a recommendation for the implementation of such self-government consistent with Puerto Rico's approval. It sets forth specified requirements with respect to the referendum and congressional procedures for consideration of legislation. - one of many phony federal initiatives for determination of Puerto Rico's status, this one from Don Young of Alaska in 1997

There has been a fair amount of talk regarding the vote in Puerto Rico for statehood in a referendum held in its most recent election (Puerto Rico votes on the same calendar as the U.S. presidential election.) The claim is Puerto Rico votes for statehood for the first time:

For the first time in their history, a majority of Puerto Ricans expressed support for U.S. statehood in a non-binding referendum on the future of the island's relationship with Washington. [...] Just over 61 percent of voters favored seeking to make Puerto Rico the 51st state, while 33.31 percent supported an enhanced commonwealth arrangement and just 5.53 percent were in favor of full independence.
There are a couple of problems with this take: (1) the status quo was not among the choices in the statehood portion of the referendum and (2) Puerto Rican support for statehood is largely irrelevant—the United States is not close to offering statehood to Puerto Rico.

The history of non-binding referendums and Congressional action and inaction regarding statehood for Puerto Rico is instructive here. So, without further ado, a little history.

The Spanish-American War

Long after the Monroe Doctrine had been issued, Spain retained possessions in the Western Hemisphere, most notably Cuba and Puerto Rico. In 1898, Alfred Thayer Mahan, the author of The Influence of Sea Power on History, urged the acquisition of colonies in the Caribbean Sea for porting of American naval ships.

Theodore Roosevelt, then assistant secretary of the Navy, was a strong adherent of Mahan's views. In an 1897 letter to Mahan, Roosevelt said:

Until we definitely turn Spain out of those islands (and if I had my way that would be done tomorrow), we will always be menaced by trouble there. We should acquire the Danish Islands and, by turning Spain out, should serve notice that no strong European power, and especially not Germany, should be allowed to gain a foothold by supplanting some weak European power. I do not fear England - Canada is a hostage for her good behavior but I do fear some of the other powers.

And so began the drive to gin up a war with Spain—the desire for porting in the Caribbean Sea. The war itself was quick and brutal, and the United States took possession of Cuba and Puerto Rico. Ostensibly, Cuba was granted independence a few years later (but see the Platt Amendment). Puerto Rico, however, remained a U.S. possession.

U.S. Rule of Puerto Rico

Ironically, there was significant support in Puerto Rico for statehood at the time. But not much interest from the United States. Indeed, that storyline tells the story of Puerto Rico statehood since. Instead, the United States provided certain levels of self government for Puerto Rico over time. In 1900, it was the Foraker Act, which ended military rule on Puerto Rico and created a local civilian government, subject of course, to the United States. The Foraker Act and its favoritism for American carpetbaggers, sparked the first real sparks for separation from the United States, including the formation of the Puerto Rico Independence Party (known today by its Spanish acronym (PIP.))  

In the same time period, the reach of the United States Constitution to territories controlled by the U.S. was litigated a number of times before the Supreme Court of the United States, a series of cases that came to be known as the Insular Cases. In Downes v. Bidwell, the Supreme Court decided that the Constitution, in most cases, followed the flag, but that the inhabitants of such territories do not become citizens of the United States:

There seems to be no middle ground between this position and the doctrine that if their inhabitants do not become, immediately upon annexation, citizens of the United States, their children thereafter born, whether savages or civilized, are such, and entitled to all the rights, privileges and immunities of citizens. If such be their status, the consequences will be extremely serious. Indeed, it is doubtful if Congress would ever assent to the annexation of territory upon the condition that its inhabitants, however foreign they may be to our habits, traditions, and modes of life, shall become at once citizens of the United States.

In 1917, the Foraker Act was replaced by the Jones Act, which provided U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans. The cynical would no doubt see a connection to the passage the same year of the Selective Service Act and the possibility of U.S. entry into World War I. As citizens, the argument for Puerto Rican conscription into the U.S. military would certainly be more defensible. Under the Jones Act, the governor of Puerto Rico remained a U.S. appointed official.

In 1922, Pedro Albizu Campos joined in the formation of  the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, which advocated for the violent removal of U.S. rule. Albizu was charged with sedition in 1935 and sent to federal prison. Americans best know the Nationalists from their attacks on Congress in 1954.

The Commonwealth

Starting with a Congressional enactment permitting Puerto Ricans to elect their governor in 1948 and culminating with the enactment of Public Law 600, also known as the Puerto Rico Federal Relations Act, the United States moved toward providing Puerto Rico with complete local self government, subject to federal law, in which Puerto Rican would play no electoral part in formulating. Supported by the Popular Democratic Party (PPD by its Spanish acronym), headed by Luis Munoz Marin, the commonwealth was approved by the Puerto Rican people through the ratification of the Puerto Rico Constitution with 81 percent voting in favor. Munoz Marin was elected governor for 3 consecutive terms and Puerto Rico experienced tremendous economic growth throughout the period, and the PPD dominated Puerto Rican government uninterrupted for 16 years.

Referendums on Puerto Rico's Political Status

In 1967, Puerto Rico held a  non-binding referendum on status and commonwealth won with 61 percent of the vote. Support for statehood grew to close to 40 percent. Subsequent votes showed support for the status quo eroding, in 1993 it was 48.6 percent commonwealth, 46 percent pro-statehood, in 1998, it was 46.6% percent pro-statehood, 50.4 percent none of the above.

In the meantime, the political status of Puerto Rico was barely considered in Washington. Certainly legislation was proposed, due in most part to lobbyists and fundraising on behalf of certain legislators like Don Young and Bennett Johnston, but no serious consideration was ever given to admitting Puerto Rico as a state.

And of course every President names a task force that submits the same report, based on the same Congressional Research Service conclusions (PDF).

And then, nothing happens. The most recent results simply are not going to change that, in my opinion at least. Let's explore why on the flip.

Could Puerto Rico become the 51st State? Not Any Time Soon

It has been 54 years since any states have been admitted to the union, 1959 when Alaska and Hawaii were admitted at the same time. This dual admittance is of extreme significance. Why? Because the admittance of both states were believed to negate the political impact in terms of national politics. Ironically, it was Hawaii that was believed to be the Republican state and Alaska to be the Democratic state. Best laid plans.

Puerto Rico would be viewed as the admittance of a Democratic state, and rightly so. Two additional Democratic senators and likely 5 or 6 of 7 House Democratic representatives would be the likely upshot of granting Puerto Rico statehood.

But what of the Latino issue? Wouldn't denying Puerto Rico statehood exacerbate GOP problems with Latinos? Probably, but the cost of admitting Puerto Rico would be an even greater calamity for Republicans.

Beyond that, as demonstrated by Rick Santorum in the GOP primaries, Republicans simply oppose the admittance of a predominantly Spanish speaking entity.

Maybe in a few decades this opposition might be overcome, but not anytime soon.

So what do the most recent referendum results on Puerto Rico's status portend? In my view, precisely nothing. But if independence had won, or even garnered meaningful support, the United States would be ready to grant Puerto Rico independence as soon as you please. The problem for independence supporters is that it is not supported by a significant number of Puerto Ricans /(no more than 4%.)

The reality is that Puerto Rico no longer has military significance to the United States. And Washington does not give much thought to Puerto Rico. And when they do, the last thing they are thinking about is statehood for Puerto Rico. The few times their minds were concentrated on it, Republicans were aghast.

It will not happen. At least, not any time soon. So what then?

Not statehood, which will not receive support from Washington. Not independence, which has little support in Puerto Rico. That leaves the status quo - commonwealth (and not the "enhanced" variety.)

And so it shall be for the foreseeable future. In my opinion of course.

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Comment Preferences

  •  So, we're back to this. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ConfusedSkyes, whaddaya, LOrion

    "The government of the many, not the government of the money" - Nancy Pelosi

    by Americantrueandblue on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 09:35:56 AM PST

  •  Wonderful islands. (6+ / 0-)

    My wife and I have been twice.  Culebra has some of the best walk in snorkeling in the world, and Vieques has some beautiful beaches and its bioluminescent bay was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen.  Culebra used to be used for military training and what not and for that reason remains largely unspoiled (as of yet) except for the occasional metal artifact in the ground or on the beach.

    We were there in 2008 just after the election and the Obama signs were everywhere and there was a lot of excitement for him.  

    I'd like to see PR become a state or become its own country.

    "The attack on the truth by war begins long before war starts and continues long after a war ends." -Julian Assange

    by Pierro Sraffa on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 09:37:12 AM PST

    •  Vieques was the main (5+ / 0-)

      armaments training area. Culebra had been removed from this many decades ago.

      The bombing training in Vieques was the focal point of Island wide protests in the late 1990s which led to the abandonment of  the practice by the US military and its naval base at Roosevelt Roads.

      There is a submarine base at Sabana Seca.

      •  The lack of freshwater on Culebra (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        whaddaya, Justus, bmcphail, glorificus

        is the main impediment to development I think.

        Culebra was used pretty heavily by the military.  During diving and snorkeling off of Melones, Tamarindo, Carlos Resario, Zoni, and Punta Solado I saw all kinds of ordinance.  

        Thanks for the info. on Vieques.  That makes sense, as many of the beaches have "military" names - Green beach, etc.

        Oh, and I was aware of the protests, as I participated in them!

        "The attack on the truth by war begins long before war starts and continues long after a war ends." -Julian Assange

        by Pierro Sraffa on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 09:49:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Why not independence? (7+ / 0-)

    Puerto Rico is only a possession as a result of American imperialism.  Isn't it time to start breaking up the empire and letting the native people govern themselves, like the British Commonwealth?

    Intolerance betrays want of faith in one's cause. - Gandhi

    by SpamNunn on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 09:39:13 AM PST

    •  Why does the native population have to support (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MKDAWUSS, annieli, whaddaya

      independence if Congress wants to grant it?  

      Intolerance betrays want of faith in one's cause. - Gandhi

      by SpamNunn on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 09:42:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No support for independence (11+ / 0-)

      In these statehood-commonwealth plebiscites, the third option is to declare independence, and at most, 10% of Puerto Ricans will vote for independence

    •  Two reasons: The residents of Puerto Rico (17+ / 0-)

      are largely aware that they benefit in many ways economically from being part of the US, and there is a slowly ever-increasing sense that they are more like America than not like it. Just my 2 cents, I lived there for a few years as a kid.

      Is this just math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better?

      by ConfusedSkyes on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 09:43:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  When I visited there last year (4+ / 0-)

        I was struck by how culturally american it was - more so than other parts of the caribbean. The main difference is higher poverty levels, but I have a feeling that will change for the better if they do become a state.

        •  Why would statehood change the poverty level? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          By not being a State they have more flexibility and have been able to argue effectively for exemptions from various national laws.  Statehood does not cure poverty and comes with no special status other than votes in the House and Senate.  

          •  Statehood doesn't cure poverty, sure. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            But I'm pretty sure having representatives - especially in safe states, which means that they're likely to rack up a lot of seniority - means that your chance of receiving pork barrel goes up, even if your burdens do as well.

            Is this just math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better?

            by ConfusedSkyes on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 10:36:04 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  My observation was that infrastructure (0+ / 0-)

              funding in particular was lower. Even in the poorest parts of Kentucky, I've seen roads better than much of what's in PR.

              I'm also not sure they're eligible for all current federal benefit programs.

            •  Yes, I suppose (0+ / 0-)

              but that's like saying statehood allows them to get access to money that isn't theirs. It might be the practical result of statehood, but is it right?  I'm not even sure it would necessarily happen that they would get more money -- if they elect all Dems, the Dems will take them for granted. I think PR could be financially better off if it were independent and allowed to control its own destiny and economy.

              •  No, it's not. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Part of being a nation is improving life for everyone in every state. You help the ones that are lagging now because they will help you when you are the ones lagging later. That is the basis of human society. As an important port and tourist destination, it's not like Puerto Rico will just become a black hole for money.

                Is this just math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better?

                by ConfusedSkyes on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 04:25:47 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  Puerto Rico's economic growth (0+ / 0-)

            Puerto Rico's economic growth lags the rest of the United States.  Studies show that this is a consistent finding for all territories under colonial status, American or otherwise.  At the same time, studies show that territories that were admitted as US states shortly thereafter experienced dramatic economic growth.  Thus, there is no reason to think this would not happen to Puerto Rico too.

          •  Costs of Statehood? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Prison4Bushco, terrypinder

            One cost of statehood is having to pay federal taxes.  The flip side of that is that, under the current commonwealth arrangement, Puerto Ricans don't pay federal taxes.  But that's a bit simplistic and misleading.

            It is true that under commonwealth Puerto Rico does not pay national income tax.  However, it's not a given.  There is nothing in the commonwealth arrangement that says that Puerto Ricans will never pay income tax.  It's just that the US government has never forced Puerto Rico to do so.  But the US congress could always pass a law requiring Puerto Ricans to do so.

            Additionally, Puerto Rico pays other taxes that many don't think about.  Commonwealth requires that all ships transporting to and from Puerto Rico carry the US flag.  This means that there is a monopoly over shipping such that Puerto Ricans pay much more for imports than they would as an independent nation.  (Of course, the same cost would apply as a state, so the net effect there from a change to statehood would be negligible.)

            Puerto Ricans also pay taxes on certain key exports.  For many years, the number one export from Puerto Rico was rum, of which the US govt would assess a tax as high as 15%.  That means that, of all the revenues derived from the export of rum, Puerto Ricans would have to give the US government 15%.  

            One of the perceived benefits of commonwealth is that Puerto Rico receives all sorts of financial assistance from the federal government without incurring any costs.  But the rum tax shows that is not true.  If you actually calculated the total amount Puerto Rico was charged in rum taxes, it exceeded the total amount of financial assistance Puerto Rico received from the US.  In other words, the US made money off of Puerto Rico, even after deducting the financial assistance it has received.  The balance has shifted over time, however, as Puerto Rico has negotiated a reduction in rum taxes from the high of 15% to a low of 8% (last time I checked which, admittedly, was a while ago).  But note that the tax rate has fallen as the share of the importance of rum revenues to the Puerto Rico economy has fallen.  Also, at this point, the US returns most of this money to Puerto Rico anyway.

            And while Puerto Rico receives US financial assistance, this is by no means guaranteed by the US Congress.  In fact, Puerto Rico receives less than what it would receive as a US state because, as a commonwealth, the US has no obligation to treat Puerto Rico at equal footing with other states (see: medicare).  Thus, there are many financial assistance programs from which Puerto Rico would benefit under statehood but currently does not as a result of being a commonwealth.  

            (Where Puerto Rico does benefit significantly is in federal money assigned to the drug war, since Puerto Rico as an island is an easy entry point for the drug trade into the US.)

            Probably the biggest benefit of commonwealth is the fact that the US can treat it as autonomous due to its not being a state.  For many years, that means that US companies could benefit from a tax exemption on all its profits by simply moving part of their operations to Puerto Rico.  But again proving my point above, the US Congress removed the so-called 936 provisions of the US tax code after many in Congress called for its removal due to the perception that Puerto Rico was stealing jobs from US states.  This, of course, is ludicrous since without the tax exemption the companies simply move the jobs overseas, where they are no longer under any direct US jurisdiction.  Nevertheless, Puerto Rico for many years functioned as an offshore tax haven for US companies.  And it was also the #1 site for pharmaceutical manufacturing in the world, before the removal of 936.  (In fact, 936 created an upper class of lawyers on the islands who were directly paid by these manufacturing industries and that obviously lean for commonwealth because their bread and butter depends on it.)  This benefit, however, would still be even stronger under independence because Puerto Rico could then make its own laws.

        •  Statehood has economic benefits? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          A Harvard study once showed that Puerto Rico would benefit economically from statehood, based on the economic growth rates experienced by all territories that ultimately became part of the union.  However, the only example that would be relevant, in my opinion, would be that of Hawaii.  And Hawaii had a stronger rural base at the time than Puerto Rico does now, so the comparison is probably moot anyway.

    •  Armando just pointed out that only 4% of the (10+ / 0-)

      people in Puerto Rico are in favor of independence.

    •  I think (13+ / 0-)

      the overwhelming opposition to independence from Puerto Ricans, who are, after all, US citizens, makes that an unlikely proposition.

      •  Can't blame them. (5+ / 0-)

        Intolerance betrays want of faith in one's cause. - Gandhi

        by SpamNunn on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 09:50:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Many people have Boriken in their hearts (3+ / 0-)

        and come from Nationalist and Independista families - but they are not going to vote for it - for a whole host of reasons.

        I know many of my own family members are "independentista de sentimiento" but have no desire to give up their US citizenship.

        With 4.2 million Puerto Ricans living here on the mainland - the reality is clear.  

        "If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now". Rev. William Barber, If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

        by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 10:35:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Wouldn't U.S. Statehood potentially result (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Denise Oliver Velez, lotlizard

          in the same kind of cultural homogenization and loss that Hawaii experienced after becoming a State?

          I was trying to ask this a few times in this diary, but I didn't get much of an answer.

          I don't quite understand why Puerto Ricans would want statehood? Independence, I can understand better. Either way, is there talk of the cultural consequences of U.S. statehood in Puerto Rico and do you think the lack of interest in it (sounds like slightly more people oppose it there) has to do with cultural concerns?

          FWIW, I hate what we've done to Hawaii. Vehemently.

          •  some of the main reasons (4+ / 0-)

            people have resisted statehood are cultural.

            The heavy repression of the Nationalist party, the banning of the PR flag during that period and even of the singing of La Borinqueña (PR national anthem) has not been forgotten.

            Language is also an issue.

            Status quo - in some form allows for both PR pride, and culture without forfeiting US citizenship.  

            "If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now". Rev. William Barber, If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

            by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 10:45:49 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  That's what I was thinking (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Denise Oliver Velez, Jay C

              and maybe, secretly, hoping.

              I see that this diary is filled with people who love America so much that they want Puerto Rico to hop on board with us. But I don't see a lot of people who recognize the richness of Puerto Rican culture and language, the vitality there, and yes, the pride, and how that could be impacted by this.

              But ultimately, it should be whatever Puerto Rico wants. Obviously.

              I don't know nearly enough about the history and had no idea about that repression. Thanks for that. It sounds sad. And frustrating. I suppose the economic gains would be good, possibly, but at what cost? Well, whatever Puerto Rico wants in the end is what will happen.

            •  The official language could be Spanish and English (0+ / 0-)

              The state decides.  That's what New Mexico has currently.  See:

              •  Both are (0+ / 0-)

                already official in Puerto Rico. Plus, many states don't have official languages at all.

                "The government of the many, not the government of the money" - Nancy Pelosi

                by Americantrueandblue on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 07:27:34 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Yep, agreed :) (0+ / 0-)

                  Americantrueandblue, this was in reference to those who say that Puerto Rico loses Spanish as an official language if it becomes a state.  It only does so if the US Congress passed a law requiring English only across the land.  But then again, if the US Congress ever did so, it might well decide to extend it to Puerto Rico as well.

                  •  Let me ask you this, are (0+ / 0-)

                    you for statehood or independence? Your posts seemed kind of mixed.

                    "The government of the many, not the government of the money" - Nancy Pelosi

                    by Americantrueandblue on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 10:05:55 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I just want the issue to be resolved... (0+ / 0-)

             the satisfaction of the Puerto Rican people.  Whether that is independence, free association or statehood is up for them to decide.  And if they want to maintain commonwealth in the short run, that's fine too.  But they should have all the data before them, so they can make an informed decision.

                  •  Once upon a time in America there was a push (0+ / 0-)

                    to make German an official language of the US. Whatever reasons were used to defeat that measure will likely be used to defeat any new measure that would require English.

                    There is a long history that requiring a non-native speaker to learn English is de facto loss of civil right.

                    Require English for a driver's license, yes.
                    Require English to vote, no. You can bring a translator.
                    New York's ballot, voter registration is in 5 languages, the names on the ballot are in 2 languages (English and Chinese).

          •  Cultural Homogeneity (0+ / 0-)

            This is by no means a given.  It depends on many factors (e.g., will the state govt push a policy to protect its unique culture? will many non-Puerto Rican Americans migrate there, thereby watering down the culture further? etc.)

        •  I take it you favor independence? (0+ / 0-)

          And forgive me my ignorance, but what is Boriken?

        •  Even many statehooders... (0+ / 0-)

          ...are independentistas de sentimiento.

      •  You're ignoring free association (0+ / 0-)

        If you include free association, the total for independence rises to close to 40%.  Don't forget free association is essentially independence.

        •  Free association (0+ / 0-)

          is basically independence, but with all the benefits of their current status, i.e. not true independence. Plus, it could be ended at anytime by either party, making them truly independent. Very few obviously want that.

          "The government of the many, not the government of the money" - Nancy Pelosi

          by Americantrueandblue on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 07:29:06 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, exactly (0+ / 0-)

            You get a 15-year treaty where the independent nation continues receiving benefits from its larger counterpart.  But this was what Luis Munoz Marin intended anyway with his support of the commonwealth status back in 1952.  

    •  It could be argued that many other states, from (9+ / 0-)

      California to Hawaii to maybe even everything west of the 13 colonies, were the results of imperialism. The argument that they should be given up because their original acquisition was imperialistic is meaningless. We make decisions based on present day circumstances. Otherwise, it's a game of infinite regress of historical who-conquered-whom.

    •  Most Puerto Ricans don't want it for starters (7+ / 0-)

      And even if we granted it unilaterally or the majority wants independence, what does this do to all living Puerto Ricans as far as citizenship goes? These folks are natural born citizens of the United States.  It would appear that independence is a ship which sailed a long time ago.

      If you don't want to be kept in the dark and lathered with horse dung, stop acting like a mushroom.

      by nomorerepukes on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 09:57:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'd include the several States in this as well (0+ / 0-)

      I support PR becoming a State if they want it. I also support them going their own way if they want to.  It seems to me that PR could have a viable economy free of the US.  

      But importantly, we need to think about whether there are some communities, such as Vermont, that would be better off as an independent republic.  The Vermont initiative for peaceful independence is something worth discussing.

  •  I still don't understand (6+ / 0-)

    how that first problem is even a problem. Whether they want to stay the same WAS asked. It was the first question: do you want the status quo or not, not got the majority of votes. Looking at the results of this referendum and maybe the political motives there are some legitimate critiques of it, but I don't see that as one of them.

    "The government of the many, not the government of the money" - Nancy Pelosi

    by Americantrueandblue on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 09:40:07 AM PST

    •  I disagree (6+ / 0-)

      Think of it this way - would President Obama have won an up or down vote? Would it have been fair to ask that first and then if Obama lost, then exclude him from the choices presented?

      In fact, putting up a vote for statehood is actually highly misleading - it is not an option that the US will offer any time soon.

      A realistic referendum would be status quo versus independence.

      •  Since when has the U.S. government (3+ / 0-)

        offered statehood at all? To the best of my knowledge the prospective state always had to petition congress first, before anything could happen. If you mean it would be years or even decades before they allowed it then, yeah maybe, after all, how long were Alaska and Hawaii waiting for state hood?

        "The government of the many, not the government of the money" - Nancy Pelosi

        by Americantrueandblue on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 09:51:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Similar to the California recall election (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        whaddaya, newpioneer, LuvSet

        in which voters were asked "should there be a recall" and then were only asked to vote on the alternative candidates, and not grey davis himself vs those candidates.

      •  Why did they do a two-part question in the first (0+ / 0-)


        If someone voted "yes" for the status quo, I assume their vote for the second question would still be counted.  So it seems to me, a large portion of those pro-statehood votes were really "well fine, if we can't keep the status quo, then we'd rather go for statehood."

        Is that about right?

      •  The weirdest logic I have ever heard of... (0+ / 0-)
        In fact, putting up a vote for statehood is actually highly misleading - it is not an option that the US will offer any time soon.
        This is your opinion, Armando.  This is not something that the US Congress or the President has ever said.  
        A realistic referendum would be status quo versus independence.
        Why would this be "realistic"?  That is the weirdest logic I have ever heard of.

        What the US Congress should do to resolve the status issue once and for all is to give the Puerto Rican people a choice among the constitutionally-recognized options of statehood, free association, and independence.

        Otherwise, let Puerto Rico choose among the four options -- territorial one included -- until they make up their mind as to which of the constitutionally-recognized ones they want for good.

  •  Regardless (8+ / 0-)

    I think Obama should voice strong support for the idea. I guess in a sense you could say this would be like Bush's "mission to Mars" -- a bold initiative for his second term that would never happen. But in Obama's case, it's good politics.

    Strange Angels - a progressive online dating site.

    by Zackpunk on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 09:41:02 AM PST

  •  So what does the new flag look like? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Anak, bmcphail

    Where do we place the bastard stepchild that is the 51st star? ;)

  •  Canada was viewed as being too nice? (7+ / 0-)

    don't know if that is an insult or compliment.

    As far as admitting Puerto Rico, time for Obama to bring it up.

    Won't lose anything by doing so and may be in a stronger position for the mid term elections in 2014 for Democrats.

    "The only person sure of himself is the man who wishes to leave things as they are, and he dreams of an impossibility" -George M. Wrong.

    by statsone on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 09:44:03 AM PST

  •  I grew up in PR (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

       Spent my elementary and high school years there. Seventies and early eighties.

       First, a question: wasn't the referendum structured as a two-part question? Didn't statehood garner the support of those voters who first voted for a change in status?  If that's the case, support for statehood among ALL votes is significantly lower than 61%. The breakdown, over the years, is usually commonwealth and statehood in the high 40's and independence for the rest. That hasn't changed much in 40 years or so.

       And, an aside. Since political status is THE issue in Puerto Rico, gubernatorial elections tend to track status preferences. I wonder if Luis Fortuno might have shot himself in the foot by rolling the referendum question into the same ballot as the general election. If a statehood supporter wasn't happy with Fortuno, he now had an "out", because he could express his support for statehood in another part of the ballot, and then vote against Fortuno. Just speculating...


    "Le ciel est bleu, l'enfer est rouge."

    by Buzzer on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 09:44:13 AM PST

    •  No (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      newpioneer, decafdyke

      Statehood garnered the most votes after the status quo was eliminated as an option.

      It was a ridiculously skewed ballot approach.

    •  Statehood support is actually down? (0+ / 0-)
      wasn't the referendum structured as a two-part question? Didn't statehood garner the support of those voters who first voted for a change in status?
      The problem with the way the statehooders did this vote is that the commonwealthers and independence supporters can now argue that support for statehood was 54% (1st question) * 61% (2nd question), or 33%.

      Commonwealthers can argue their support was 46%.  

      Meanwhile, independence supporters can now argue that support for independence was 54% * (33% free association + 5% independence) or 21%.  

      So by creating the two-part question, statehood may have in fact dropped in support from the last referendum, where it stood at 46.6%.

  •  At any rate (4+ / 0-)

    the Senate should hold a vote on granting Puerto Rico statehood. Even if it is doomed to fail in the House, make the GOP go on record as being opposed.

  •  the real reason (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is that no one can figure out a pattern for 51 stars.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 09:48:05 AM PST

  •  Are we going to have to change our flag (0+ / 0-)

    to 51 stars?

    President Obama, January 9, 2012: "Change is hard, but it is possible. I've Seen it. I've Lived it."

    by Drdemocrat on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 09:51:19 AM PST

  •  Some truth but also some flaws in your analysis (6+ / 0-)

    While I agree that the U.S. Congress is unlikely to endorse Puerto Rican statehood anytime soon, you're essentially avoided discussion of the two-part nature of Puerto Rico's referendum.  In the first part, Puerto Ricans voted -- by about 54% -- against the current status (Free Associated State).  In the second part, the vast majority who offered an opinion (and, admittedly, a chunk chose to leave the second question blank) endorse statehood.  It's fair to say, however, that a majority opted for statehood as a goal.  And to say that voters weren't given the option of retaining the current status misstates the nature of the two-part referendum.  BTW, on a personal level, I favor statehood for Puerto Rico, but until it can be achieved, I would like to see Puerto Ricans -- and other American citizens in similar situations (e.g., the Virgin Islands, our remaining Pacific territories) get some electoral votes.  That should be a no-brainer.

    •  I disagree with you (4+ / 0-)

      To compare the statehood vote when the status quo was not compoeting with it was completely ridiculous.

      If you want to argue that the majority oppose the status quo, fine.

      But to exclude the status quo when arguing they favor statehood is ridiculous and deceiving.

      •  ˄˄˄˄˄˄˄ (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Denise Oliver Velez


        It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see. ~ Thoreau

        by newpioneer on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 10:33:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Certainly not trying to be deceiving... (0+ / 0-)

        Sorry, but I don't think my argument is ridiculous and I certainly don't think it was deceiving.  When designing a two-part referendum, the second part doesn't need to (and shouldn't) re-ask the first question yet again.  It would have been silly to have the second question ask:  Ok, if we go with something different, do we (a) become a state, (b) stay the same, or (c) go for independence.  The (b) answer has already been voted on and 54% voted 'no, we don't want to stay the same' (the reason the second question matters).  That said, the 'enhanced commonwealth' could (and was, I believe) read as the equivalent of 'don't make any significant changes (like statehood or independence) but leave things more-or-less the same with some marginal improvements'; as such, it was pretty darn close to being a proxy for 'leave things alone' votes.  And it got a third of the vote.  Would it have gotten the majority if the boycotters had voted?  We'll never know, because they opted not to vote; their choice, but you can only count the votes that were cast.

    •  "a chunk chose to leave the second question blank" (3+ / 0-)

      You understate this. More than 400K voters left question 2 blank, because the PPD asked them to do so in protest over the whole process. So it was actually an organized effort to delegitimize the vote. Question 1 reflects the votes of statehood + independence supporters. But if you add the "sovereign" commonwealth, independence, and blank ballots, there was actually a majority AGAINST statehood.

      So, Armando is right. Gridlock as usual. Nothing to see here, move along folks.

      "We live now in hard times, not end times." -- Jon Stewart

      by vawolf on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 10:16:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I would love to see PR become a state, it has been (4+ / 0-)

    too long since we last added two states. The United States changes and grows as part of its history. I would like to continue on with that history and legacy.    I would like to see Democrats in support of Puerto Rico becoming a state based on their recent vote.  It probably won't happen for a long time as pointed out here in this very detailed, excellent,  and interesting diary..but I would love to see us advocate for statehood nonetheless.

    Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

    by wishingwell on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 09:54:45 AM PST

  •  PR needs a yes-or-no referendum (4+ / 0-)

    on statehood to see where the real support lies

  •  Give D.C. Statehhood at the same time and (5+ / 0-)

    Voila, even steven.  Well; at least, on the flag.

    Republicans of course would hate it, and cry as usual.

    One day maybe America will stop acceding to the whining of bigots. (haha)

    Nice piece. Learned a lot about Puerto Rico.

    •  Heh (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      owlbear1, newpioneer, Jay C

      on the even steven.

    •  I remember DC/PR deals being proposed in the 80s (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Edmund Xu, owlbear1, jds1978

      ....  Back during the Reagan administration, there were people seriously suggesting that a deal for DC/PR statehood could be worked out between the parties.

      DC would be the new Democratic state, you see, and PR would be the new Republican one.

      Don't laugh. At the time Republicans were dazzled by Reagan's success winning the Cuban-American vote. They were convinced that the GOP was the natural home for Hispanic voters. There were people who thought that it would only a couple more election cycles before the rest of the Hispanic vote inevitably fell into the Republican column.

      You can see how that worked out.

      •  It could happen... (0+ / 0-)

        ...especially considering how commonwealthers boycott anything the statehooders do.  If the commonwealth party boycotted a new US state and only statehooders voted, since statehooders tend to be Republican, the outcome could very likely be a Republican state of Puerto Rico.

  •  I'm not saying the diarist is wrong (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wolf Of Aquarius, whaddaya, Jyrki

    In fact, I think he is most likely quite correct in the short term. However, I don't see the current political status quo in this country as likely to persist indefinitely. The Republican Party most closely resembles a wobbly top that has lost most of its spinning  momentum. I am not certain that there is any way for it to right itself, as I don't see where the energy could be expected to come from. Because of that, I believe we are approaching a fundamental shakeup, hopefully with good results. It may be sooner than any of us expect before some of these immutable facts of history turn out to be mutable after all.

    My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.
    --Carl Schurz, remarks in the Senate, February 29, 1872

    by leftist vegetarian patriot on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 09:57:13 AM PST

  •  Depends if Democrats want to push it. (4+ / 0-)

    If that happened and Republicans stood against it, we could still score plenty of points from it.  It's a no-win situation for the GOP - they would have to choose between sticking with their aging WASP nut base that's already failing them or courting the future.

    "They fear this man. They know he will see farther than they, and he will bind them with ancient logics." -The stoner guy in The Cabin in the Woods

    by Troubadour on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 09:57:44 AM PST

  •  Do they pay federal taxes? (0+ / 0-)

    If so then they should have statehood and representation.  

    I recall that we had a war over that.

  •  An interesting issue (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, whaddaya, Jyrki, askew, ycompanys

    As I understand it, one of the main reasons cited by Puerto Ricans for opposing statehood was a fear of losing their language and culture (shades of forced Anglicization in the early part of the 20th century).

    Perhaps now people see the Latino presence in the US as being so strong that Puerto Ricans no longer have to fear losing their cultural heritage.

    •  This is actually the ONLY issue (0+ / 0-)

      When you really get down to it, it's all about emotions.  

      Statehooders don't think that a Puerto Rico state would lose its culture.  In fact, it would now have its own state government and therefore provisions to protect their language and culture.

      Commonwealthers don't want to lose Puerto Rico's culture, including representation in Miss Universe, the Olympics, and other international events.  They also fear that they will have to adopt English as their official language (which is not the case given that there is no US Congressional law mandating English-only).

      Independence supporters agree with commonwealthers, and many view statehooders as sell outs or "pitiyanquis."  See:

  •  What would be interesting is to see if one of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the Republican Cuban-America Reps from Florida, and Marco Rubio, could be talked into co-sponsoring the bill in congress. Getting them on record on where they stood on this would be an important step if this is to go anywhere.

    -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

    by dopper0189 on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 09:59:20 AM PST

  •  San Felipe would make a great Boricua Pentagon (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Are they sure they don't want independence?

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 10:02:39 AM PST

  •  The World Needs More America! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Puerto Rico has paid it's admission price in blood. Carrying out the will of Puerto Rico's voters is the right thing to do, apart from also being good politics. Here's a slogan idea:

    The World Needs More America!

    The only thing that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do stuff that doesn't work

    by PatriotismOverProfits on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 10:04:06 AM PST

  •  Hmmm, I'm not sure that diarist (0+ / 0-)

    is getting the point. First, don't prospective states need to petition for statehood? We'll have to see if Puerto Rico does that. If they DO, then Democrats would be idiots not to push HARD for a vote about giving them statehood. This would be the Republicans worst fears, having to choose between losing Latinos BIG time for the foreseeable future, or letting in another very reliable Democratic state.  I would LOVE to see that decision pushed in their faces.

  •  I think we need two new states. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    terrypinder, GoUBears

    1. Puerto Rico, which should get the statehood they just expressed their desire to achieve.
    2. Washington DC, which has on numerous occasions expressed overwhelming support for statehood.

    Both of those states could be added with a regular bill, passed by Congress and signed by the President. (A "cleanup amendment" repealing the 23rd Amendment would be required, but if DC had statehood, there wouldn't be any more voting residents of the "federal district" anyway—since that would likely be shrunk to include the Capitol, Mall, and White House, residents of the latter of which vote in their home states.)

    While we're accepting those two new states, I think we need to expand the House of Representatives—not just by the 7-8 representatives that would be added by DC and PR, but maybe double or triple the size. That would make representatives (each of whom would represent fewer people) much more accountable to the people they represent.

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

    by JamesGG on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 10:06:38 AM PST

    •  We could do (0+ / 0-)

      "The government of the many, not the government of the money" - Nancy Pelosi

      by Americantrueandblue on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 10:10:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think even that's too small a House. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        thetadelta, GoUBears

        I think we need to double or triple the size of the House, to make the representatives truly accountable to the people they represent... a ratio of 200k-300k people per House member.

        That would also have the bonus of making the Electoral College at least somewhat more representative. I recall some calculations I did during the 2000-2010 census period finding that the ratio of citizen votes per Electoral College vote was about three times as high in California as it was in Wyoming, making a Wyoming vote for president worth 3x as much; while the 2010 census may have changed that number a little, it likely hasn't changed it a lot.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 10:54:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Wyoming Rule (0+ / 0-)

        should be implemented whether PR is going to be a state or not. Sadly, someone would probably complain there aren't enough desks.

        According to the TeaBaggers, the wrong side won the Civil War. Kinda says it all.

        by Beomoose on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 11:09:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  anyone know how many Electoral Votes (0+ / 0-)

    PR would get??

    "A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast and me?" - Don Van Vliet

    by AlyoshaKaramazov on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 10:11:32 AM PST

  •  think big (0+ / 0-)

    I'd like to see PR, Dominican Republic and Nevis brought on board as a single new state.  Turning a ac orner on several centuries of half measures.  But I suspect that may (literally) be just me.

  •  Puerto Rico has 3.7 Million people. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jyrki, Beomoose, James Allen

    That would equate to 7 electoral votes as OK has same population.   Just sayin'

    "Saying atheism is a religion is like saying not collecting stamps is a hobby".

    by progresso on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 10:12:12 AM PST

  •  Question for you, Armando (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And it's a silly and really basic sort of question, but one that I think you'll be able to answer easily. You say that only 4% of Puerto Ricans want U.S. statehood granted, right? That's what I thought. My question is, why on earth would Puerto Ricans agree to U.S. statehood when you can see that other regions with strong cultural histories -- I am thinking of Hawaii, as a former Hawaiian -- have had their cultures homogenized and decimated by U.S. appropriation. Sure, there are economic benefits to be had. But isn't the cultural devastation basically assured for Puerto Rico, were it to become a State?

    Am I crazy for thinking this?

    I love Puerto Rico far too much to not consider this prospect.

    Thanks for your thoughts, or anyone else's who has more firsthand insight than I do into this.

    •  In short: doesn't this just amount to more (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Commonwealth and Colonial demolition of yet another culture?

      I can't see a good argument for Puerto Rican statehood because I see too much potential for cultural demise, regardless of any economic gain (and ultimately, whose gain would that be?)

    •  Probably about 46, 47% (4+ / 0-)

      favor statehood.

      Only 4% favor independence.

      I think Puerto Ricans should decide and if they decide for statehood., it should be granted.

      But what I think does not count here - Congress won't do it period.

      At least not for a while.

      •  My misread, sorry (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I think they should as well. I'm surprised if they favor it. That was my point. It seems like a little under half do. I think if I were Puerto Rican, I'd avoid becoming part of America, personally, and as an American who used to live in Hawaii, I wish we'd never taken Hawaii as a State either because of how we really steamrolled their culture.

        Everyone in this diary seems to be drooling over the prospect of new voters. Me? I'm just thinking about cultural preservation, I guess.

        Thanks for replying. I think I'm siding with you on this one.

      •  Nearly 40% favor independence (0+ / 0-)

        Armando for whatever reason is excluding the free association vote, which is essentially in favor of independence.

    •  Culture depends on the decisions of individuals, (3+ / 0-)

      not the state. If you have the will to preserve, join, or abandon a particular culture it will happen. Individuals of aboriginal or minority groups should not be forced into a culture they do not want to participate in, like they're living museum pieces. But if the culture is strong and individuals follow it, it will survive and thrive.

      And only 4% support independence. Statehood support is a little less than 50%.

      •  Right, I misread the distinction (3+ / 0-)

        thus my asking about the stats.

        I disagree about culture, per se, however, because if you look at something like Hawaii, you can see the fundamental cultural changes which came about after U.S. appropriation. Not to sound nutty here. But that's a key example of the kind of cultural changes which can occur. Of course, even in non-statehood situations, such as in Cameroon, say, when a country becomes more intimately tied to another country through increased colonial rule (of various degrees of formality) there is no question that cultural changes occur and often to the frustration of many in the colony/postcolony. There are more examples than I can really think of, but most are postcolonial and non-specific to the U.S. -- Hawaii being the only which I can think of that has had such a dramatic shift after U.S. statehood. Having been to other parts of the South Pacific, it's pretty shocking. Also, note that Niihau has retained its independence, and to do this, has essentially shut its doors completely to any outsiders; an extreme example, obviously.

        We're getting off-topic though. I had a basic question which has been answered, I feel. This diary isn't so much about the cultural consequences of Puerto Rican statehood, which would be an interesting diary in its own right, but the fact that Puerto Rican statehood won't be granted anytime soon. My comment gestured toward a larger conversation about this. That's all.

        •  Compare American Samoa versus independent Samoa (0+ / 0-)

          … as an instructive real-life example, perhaps?

          Samoans have told me that almost every family has relatives on both sides. "When they need money, they go work in American Samoa. When they start feeling they're losing touch with our culture, they go back to independent Samoa."

          The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

          by lotlizard on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 12:55:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  IIRC, Hawaiian language instruction was banned (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        … from public schools around the time that Hawaii was made a U.S. territory.

        Up until annexation there had been a thriving Hawaiian-language press, including newspapers and magazines.

        I have heard native elders recount firsthand having been beaten in school by teachers for speaking Hawaiian.

        Cultural survival is not at all as libertarian and individualist a matter as the preceding comment seems to make it out to be.

        The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

        by lotlizard on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 12:49:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I had no idea until yesterday (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wolf Of Aquarius

    PR had voted for statehood.

    Whatever they want, imo.

    Supporter: "Senator, you have the vote of every thinking person!" Adlai Stevenson: "That's not enough, madam, we need a majority!"

    by Scott Wooledge on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 10:14:12 AM PST

  •  I was actually going to ask you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    what the meaning of all this was. So thank you for the writeup.

    At least the situation for PR isn't quite as dire and unfair as for Washington, D.C.

    Ok, so I read the polls.

    by andgarden on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 10:25:18 AM PST

  •  great summary, Armando (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mahakali overdrive, oculus

    and I love the pic you chose of El Morro.

    It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see. ~ Thoreau

    by newpioneer on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 10:42:07 AM PST

  •  If Dems control all three branches why not? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It was only 4 years since the last time and demographics does not favor Republicans. (Although resdistricting does, I know)

    Conservatism = greed, hate, fear and ignorance

    by Joe B on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 11:04:01 AM PST

  •  Thanks for the history lesson and your informed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    take on the present. Fascinating.

  •  Pres Grant & purchase of Dominican Republic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "I would not fire a shot to enlarge our borders", our much-maligned 18th president said.  In 1869 he sent Babcock & Ingalls to negotiate the treaty.  A price was set, but the senate, led by Charles Sumner did not ratify. It seems we just had one war about blacks & there was no enthusiasm to buy a land full of more of the same.

    We could have bought the land (with much of the money lining tyhe pockets of middlemen &the Dominican elite) and avoided a war over the same thing thirty years later.

  •  Thanks for the diary, Armando (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Personally, I'm in the camp that believes this should be a bigger issue. There should be no second-class US citizens, not in PR or DC or in the far-flung islands of the Pacific. PR should be a state, and that it isn't can largely be attributed to Apathy on the part of the other 50 reflects poorly on the whole.

    According to the TeaBaggers, the wrong side won the Civil War. Kinda says it all.

    by Beomoose on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 11:25:22 AM PST

  •  I lived in San Juan for 1 year back in 1979 (0+ / 0-)

    And I married a Puerto Rican girl in that beautiful island. My 2nd marriage.

    Her father was a VMI graduate and an Army veteran.

    I believe they are all quite happy with this arm's length relationship with the USA.

    It works.  They can go to the Olympics as another country.  But for the rest they function as part of the US economy and political system.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 11:42:10 AM PST

  •  Statehood? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Iberian, newpioneer

    A similar article was published on another (nominally liberal) website I subscribe to, and boy, did it bring out the haters! All sorts of dire warnings about how the whole state would be on welfare and sink the economy, nasty comments about how they'd "have to start teaching English in the schools" and why we shouldn't let any more Spanish speaking people into the country, and hate on Puerto Ricans in general. Glad to see a more reasoned opinion here.

    •  HuffPoo? (0+ / 0-)
      A similar article was published on another (nominally liberal) website I subscribe to, and boy, did it bring out the haters!

      The Romney campaign is a extra-tough Tie Fighter following the Millennium Falcon into an asteroid belt, bouncing from impact to impact in a random manner. - blue aardvark

      by jds1978 on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 12:23:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  very good diary, Armando (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've been hunting down some resources on the Insular Cases, outside of Wikipedia.

    I'd followed this for some time (actually tweeting at PPP to poll the island because I was genuinely curious---they ignored me and spent most of their time playing with their trolls..whatever) and the vote was at first a surprise until I did my homework. Now it looks like it isn't, andCongress will probably ignore the whole thing anyway.

    How we  legally classify our territories seems to be a bit of a mess to me.

    pseudoscience can kill

    by terrypinder on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 12:14:13 PM PST

  •  oh, but if anything (0+ / 0-)

    this might get people to understand that Puerto Rico is nominally part of the US---someone posted a comment in another diary about them taking all the FEMA money because of hurricanes that really bothered me.

    pseudoscience can kill

    by terrypinder on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 12:22:01 PM PST

  •  Independence first (0+ / 0-)

    Not being a Puerto Rican, my opinion is that of an outsider. But I would rather give Puerto Rico independence first, then at a later time if the citizens of PR decide they want to join the U.S., let them positively affirm it by referendum.

    I think it's clear that there is such a thing as a Puerto Rican national identity. Expressions of Puerto Rican nationalism have been historically sporadic, but there's no telling if a national consciousness might develop in the future. Even if Puerto Ricans vote to become a state of the U.S., such a consensus could change in the future.

    If we incorporated PR into the U.S. as a state, and at a later date a substantial portion of the population decides they would rather be independent, the U.S. would face a very tricky political situation: if we refuse to let PR go, a national independence movement could arise, which could become violent. And if we did allow PR to secede, we would be opening a huge can of worms that has remained unopened since the Civil War. If PR were let go, by what right could we refuse, say, the citizens of Hawaii if a majority of citizens said they wanted independence? Or Alaska? Or even Texas?

    As long as PR is not sovereign and independent, any discussion of statehood takes place under the shadow of U.S. domination. Because I don't like the status quo of nebulous 'association' any more than anyone else, perhaps the federal government and the Puerto Rican government should jointly sponsor a binding referendum: statehood or not. If the referendum does not pass, Puerto Rico will become independent. I would make the passing level very high, something like three-quarters of the electorate, and not just of all voters. The reason being is that there are Puerto Rican independence supporters who boycott the existing political process. This way, non-participation will be counted as support for independence.

    Frankly we would be on unassailable grounds if we granted PR immediate independence; one of the very first principles of the UN Charter is self-determination of all peoples. Now of course we should provide economic compensation for Puerto Rican independence, but nothing would more affirm respect and dignity for PR and its identity by granting independence. Once they are sovereign, they can negotiate the parameters of any future association with the U.S. as equals.

    •  Yet independence is always PR's last choice (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I believe that granting PR independence would be colonialism of the absolute worst sort, overlords acting directly against the will of of a colony.

      The President should take this issue and run with it. Given that a clear majority voted to change status (part 1), and a majority of those who voted on part 2 favor statehood, there is no political or moral downside to pushing for statehood.

      ME-01 (college) ID-01 (home) -9.85, -3.85

      by GoUBears on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 04:58:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  How we get the US to vote for statehood (0+ / 0-)

    The point of the argument that Armando presents that confuses me, is why he speaks of statehood as if it had to be bipartisan, as if both parties had to agree to it.  Sure, if the Rs have to agree, then neither DC nor PR get statehood until and unless the other party disappears, or at least becomes something completely different than what it is now, a bundle of fears, most of them racist.

    All our party needs is the trifecta, the WH and simple majorities in both chambers  A tall order, sure, but hardly impossible.  We actually had such from 2008-10.  Why weren't DC and PR states in time for the 2012 election, hell, in time for 2010, when we really needed them?

    That's the real question, here.  I think Armando is right that the real impediment to PR statehood is on the mainland, not the island.  But let's be clear where on the mainland the problem is.  Yes, the Rs are villains here.  But they're villains everywhere, on every issue.  The thing is, we don't need the villains to do this thing, admitting DC and PR, that is not only the right thing, but would also add 4 Senators and (eventually), 8 House members to our ranks.

    Are we going to blame Blue Dogs?  Well, we could have given enough of them passes who really thought they would be killed by the racist vote in their districts, and still passed statehood.  And in the wider sense, and over the longer term, I thing that what Armando hints at, but doesn't describe in great detail, is true.  Even in marginal districts, in the South and in the country, that we had any chance of holding in non-wave years anyway, the number of Hispanic votes those Blue Dogs would garner would in most cases probably outnumber whatever racist vote they would lose by voting statehood.  News flash -- the racist vote went over to the Rs a while ago.  The racists left  still voting D who weren't awakened to the fact that they were voting against their inclinations by the fact that the Ds nominated and won with Obama, are not going to be suddenly awakened by a vote to admit DC and PR.

    And the reaction from the Rs to PR and DC statehood would seal the deal on the complete and utter pure partisan self-interest to our side voting statehood.  Hispanophobia would shoot to the top of their little wingnut rage-o-meters.  We'ld kill off a lot of them via exploding heads and malignant hypertension, and the survivors would exhaust themselves politically replaying Pickett's Charge up the Cemetary Ridge of PR statehood over and over again.  They would never be able to actually expel PR, but they would not be able to keep themselves from constantly screaming to the world that a Hispanophone state means the the End Times are upon us.

    The least consequence would be that, however many seats the Rs might hold in the initial PR delegation, by the second cycle after statehood, you wouldn't be able to self-identify on the island as R unless you were really confident of your long-distance swimming abilities.  The large consequence of how the Rs would very predictably react to statehood is that the D share of Hispanic, and to a lesser extent all non-Anglo voters, would rise higher and stay there as long as the Rs were the only alternative.

    Sure, we don't have the trifeca now, but I think that this issue is so important for us, that putting up a statehood bill, as the first business the new Senate undertakes, is the best single thing we could do this Congress.  Of course the House Rs would vote it down.  Let them, and run on that vote of theirs.

    We should have destroyed the presidency before Obama took office. Too late now.

    by gtomkins on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 01:47:59 PM PST

    Recommended by:
    There are a couple of problems with this take: (1) the status quo was not among the choices in the statehood portion of the referendum and (2) Puerto Rican support for statehood is largely irrelevant—the United States is not close to offering statehood to Puerto Rico.
    My mom grew up in Puerto Rico. I was raised there. According to her, the "status quo" question that you present here was on the ballot, according to our familiy members who still live there. According to them, they needed to answer that question first to get to the second question.

    According, again, to my family, the second question was the statehood or independence question.

    What you have written here seems false to me. It is suspect, too, because you used Fox News as your source.

    You might want to recheck that.

  •  Everything that is wrong about Armando's post... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Prison4Bushco, terrypinder

    I am in an ideal position to comment on this issue. I have worked on Puerto Rico's status issue since my teens, with my most well known work coming from serving as a National Adviser on Hispanic and Latino Issues for General Wesley Clark. During Clark's 2004 presidential campaign, I wrote his then groundbreaking Puerto Rico policy that was adopted by the Democrats on their party platform that year.  

    Armando states that, "Ironically, there was significant support in Puerto Rico for statehood" in the early 1900s.  Significant?  Fewer than 20% of the population supported statehood at this time (if not less), and most of that support was centered on the territorial elite of the island.  Support for statehood in Puerto Rico would not hit 20% until the 1960s referendum.  And statehood was anathema enough among Puerto Ricans at the time that a rich Puerto Rican statehood supporter by the name of Luis Ferre was motivated to found the New Progressive Party to focus on solving Puerto Rico's socioeconomic problems first and creating good will for statehood in the process.

    Armando also says that the "Foraker Act and its favoritism for American carpetbaggers, sparked the first real sparks for separation from the United States."  Again, not true.  There was a strong independence movement under the direction of Luis Munoz Rivera before the islands became a US possession.  The Grito de Lares was not some marginal event in Puerto Rican history; it almost resulted in Puerto Rico's independence from Spain.  The fact that an independence party wasn't legally constituted for many years after the United States took over has a simple reason: Being for independence in a Spanish or US military colony did not get you in the good graces of your leaders.

    Armando then writes, "But not much interest from the United States."  Again, that's factually wrong.  Puerto Rico has a strategic location in the Caribbean, even to this date.  Puerto Rico is the closest northern hemispheric point to Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.  This is why the United States wanted to snatch it from Spain, and why Spain clung on to it for dear life.  This is also why all the great powers of Europe fought for Puerto Rico for many years, despite the fact that Puerto Rico has no significant natural resources to speak of (at least since the Spaniards extracted all of its gold).  It's also the reason why many US companies such as American Airlines used Puerto Rico as their hub and took aggressive measures to prevent competitors from making inroads there.  

    This strategic interest naturally translated into interest by the United States to annex Puerto Rico and turn it into a US state, along with Cuba.  In fact, contrary to what Armando argues, the FDR administration first offered statehood to Puerto Rico along with Alaska and Hawaii. Why?  The same reason it did so to Hawaii; the pro-statehood sugar plantation owners wanted it to promote their trade interests with the United States. But Luis Munoz Marin, who was an independence supporter turned it down and asked for commonwealth instead, the idea being that Puerto Rico was not in a position to seek independence at the time for it was too poor and that commonwealth would provide a transitory path to self-sufficient independence.  Of course, the commonwealth status, like other statuses, has built interest groups along the way that now lobby to prevent any change in status, including the one Munoz Marin wanted towards independence. Without the specter of communism on the international scene, the United States would not have offered statehood or commonwealth to Puerto Rico, let alone Hawaii or Alaska.

    Armando spends a lot of time talking about why the Republican Party is deadset against statehood. He states, for example, that H.R. 3024 is "one of many phony federal initiatives for determination of Puerto Rico's status, this one from Don Young of Alaska in 1997," presumably because a Republican was promoting it. Cynical and wrong. Part of the reason why the Young family of Alaska is pro-statehood is because it witnessed firsthand how the issue had affected Alaska.  Receiving contributions from the statehooders in turn reinforced that position.  And as long as I can remember, Republicans have had Puerto Rico statehood on their party platform, only English-only proponents who tend to hail from the old confederacy oppose it.

    And Armando mentions that Washington, DC, has never seriously considered changing Puerto Rico's status.  There's a very simple reason for that.  Whereas statehooders and independence supporters spend millions lobbying the US govt to change the status, the anti-free-association wing of the commonwealth party spends equal amounts to prevent any such change.  Without that wing, the US government would have long ago taken action to change Puerto Rico's status.

    Finally, Armando writes that, "the United States would be ready to grant Puerto Rico independence as soon as you please. The problem for independence supporters is that it is not supported by a significant number of Puerto Ricans."  If the US wanted to give Puerto Rico its independence, it could do so unilaterally right now.  It won't do it because, unlike what Armando wrongly argues, Puerto Rico still has strategic value for the US.  If it didn't, the US would not have fought tooth and nail to prevent the stoppage of the live bombing in Vieques, let alone the closing of their military base there.  There's a reason why every ship going to the Middle East to fight the War on Terror would stop in Puerto Rico along the way: Its strategic location.  Great place for fueling the US Navy, among other reasons.

    •  THANK YOU "ycompanys"! (3+ / 0-)

      ...but may I continue? You should've written in your subject line "Everything IS wrong about Armando's post", as opposed to "everything that is wrong..." Anyway, I can't believe such a reality-based community such as Daily Kos would put a post like this on its main page. Living in Puerto Rico 6 or 7 years doesn't make anyone an "expert" in Puerto Rican politics. I was born and raised there and still don't understand everything about it.
      But let me continue what "ycompanys" started:
      Armando wrote:
      "There are a couple of problems with this take: (1) the status quo was not among the choices in the statehood portion of the referendum"
      For those of you who don't know, there were two questions: (paraphrasing) 1) "Do you want to continue with the current status? Answer YES or NO." ('NO' won) Then 2)" If not, which of these three would you prefer; statehood, independence, or sovereign nation in free association with the US".
      So when Armando says status quo was not among the choices in the statehood portion he's wrong and misleading. If I ask you "do you want chocolate ice cream? and you say "No", then I ask you a second question, "since you don't want chocolate ice cream then, do you want instead vanilla ice cream, or strawberry ice cream, or coffee ice cream?" Why would I include "chocolate ice cream" in the 2nd question when I know you already told me you didn't want it?

      The second thing Armando wrote "(2) Puerto Rican support for statehood is largely irrelevant—the United States is not close to offering statehood to Puerto Rico"
      That is just pure speculation without any facts to back it up. More now than ever I believe the US congress would accept it. If Sean Hannity is ok with amnesty because he's willing to do whatever it takes to get the Hispanic vote I'm sure republicans in the house would not wanna be seen as "racists" by denying the US citizens in Puerto Rico full benefits. Not to mention democrats in congress would LOVE to have 5 more votes in the house and 2 in the senate. Let's not forget the new big Puerto Rican community in Florida's I-4 corridor. Do you really wanna lose their political support?

      I warn my friends of DK, there are a lot of Puerto Ricans against statehood here in the "states", (even though they enjoy the full benefits of residing in one, just like 2 of the 3 Puerto Rican-descent currently in congress), don't think that they speak for all Puerto Ricans. The Puerto Rican people just spoke, and the chose STATEHOOD. They are the ones you should believe.

  •  Progress Island! (0+ / 0-)

    Just saw the cheesy tourism video from the 70s on MST3K the other day..

    "You can't run a country by a book of religion. Dumb all over, a little ugly on the side." Frank Zappa

    by Uosdwis on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 04:38:06 PM PST

  •  Something I don't understand... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ycompanys, immigradvocate

    when "we" voted to recall Gov Gray Davis in 2003, it was also a two part question.  The first part was about the recall, yes or no, and the second part addressed what would happen if the recall passed.  There was a list of dozens of potential candidates for the office.  Gray Davis' name was not on that second list.  The question of whether or not the people wanted him to remain on as governor had already been answered.

    So why, if the status quo was rejected in Puerto Rico, should it still be on the table? wasn't the question "do you want the status quo to continue, and if the answer is no, which of the following options would you prefer?"

  •  I've always thought that (0+ / 0-)

    the statehood thing should be up to the PR people. Since they voted for it, let's make it a state. If the Virgin Islands want to be a state, and DC wants to be a state, let's go for that too.

    The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them. - Albert Einstein.

    by Cvstos on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 10:03:57 PM PST

  •  We should aim for 53 states (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's a prime number, and then we can truthfully say "One nation, indivisible..."

  •  Puerto Rico Gov-Elect Unable to Speak English? (0+ / 0-)

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