Puerto Rican Statehood

Puerto Rican Statehood, the An overview of the pros and cons.

Argument On Puerto Rican Independence, Commonwealth or Statehood

Puerto Rican Statehood has been a hot issue for several years. Currently, there are three views on this issue. The first is state-hood, second is independence, and last is for Puerto Rico to stay a territorial commonwealth of the United States. In this report, I hope to show each view clearly and back it up with documentation.


Statehood supporters "see the United States as a union of 50 sovereign states united to give their citizens the best opportunity to succeed in life. "They believe that "Puerto Rico is in an unique position to join this union and partake of the benefits, and responsibilities, of being an integral part of the United States of America. There are economic, social, and political advantages to becoming the 51st state."

Twenty seven point one percent of Puerto Rican's who live in the United States prefer statehood . Residents of Puerto Rico voted on their status in 1993 in a non-binding advisory vote. Proponents of statehood won with 46.3 percent of the vote . The breakdown of statehood proponents in the U.S. is 57.4% of first generation, 25.7% of second generation, and 16.9% of third generation. Thirty point two percent of statehood proponents consider themselves as liberals, 22.6% are moderates, and 47.2% are conservative. The breakdown of statehood proponents based on language ability is 2.2% speak only English, 42% are better in English, 25% have no preference, 27.5 are better in Spanish, and 3.4 speak only Spanish.


In the economics of Puerto Rico, statehood has many pros. The first is that Puerto Rico will receive taxes from their citizens to build the infrastructure of the state. They will have an open market to trade with all nations that are in alliance with the U.S. With becoming a state, Puerto Rico will enjoy the benefits of America's high per capita income and low unemployment rates.

"Puerto Rico's relationship with the United States has been directly responsible for Puerto Rico having one of the highest standard of living of Central, South America, and the Caribbean. However, the American citizens of Puerto Rico are still very far from attaining the same level of economic prosperity other American citizens enjoy in the other 50 states.. Becoming a state would give Puerto Rico the opportunity of improving its economic situation."

Politically, there are several advantages to becoming a state. The first is that Puerto Rico will have a voice in the Congress with at least seven represenatives and two senators. Currently, Puerto Rico only has a resident commissioner in ther Congress. He has a voice, but no vote. Puerto Rico has no electoral votes in the Presidental elections . Becoming a State would remove Puerto Rico form under the Territorial "claws" of ther U.S. Constitution, and would put Puerto Rico on the same political footing as the other 50 states. This is the single most compelling argument for Puerto Rican statehood that Puerto Ricans have.


There are several economic reasons that can be argued against Puerto Rico becoming a state. The first is that the cost of living will greatly rise. At last count, my friend, Jose and Noemi Mendoza said that the average monthly income is around $300 dollars. The average electric bill is around $12 a month and water and waste collection is around $5 to $7 dollars a month. When Puerto Rico becomes a state the prices will greatly rise.

The electric bill will go to $80 and the water and waste will go to $16 to 20 dollars. The average interest rate in Puerto Rico is only 5 to 6%, whereas the U.S. interest rate is somewhere between 8.5 to 12%. Currently a $40,000 house would cost about $253 a month, whereas with the U.S. rates it would cost around $411 a month.

There are several arguments against statehood on the social structure of Puerto Rico. The first is that Puerto will no longer have a representative in their Miss Universe Pageant, which they have won on three occasions. Also, they would not be recognized as an individual nation in the Olympic games. "These international representations would be curbed under Statehood, as Puerto Rico would be required to participate in the same manner as the other 50 states, and to compete to represent the United States collectively, and not Puerto Rico individually, in these international events ."

The statehood opponents believe that Statehood will infringe on their "sovereign" rights and threaten their international presence and image.

The last social issue against Puerto Rico becoming a state is a proposed bill in Congress. The bill proposes that English will become the official language of the United States. If this bill passes, and Puerto Rico is granted statehood, the inhabitants will have to abide this requirement. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga, said, "we must encourage everyone to speak English, but we must not discriminate against those that speak other languages. "


The view of the continuance of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is the most popular position with 69.4% of US Puerto Ricans support. Voters cast a 48.6% decision in favor of remaining a commonwealth of the United States. Of the commonwealth proponents 71.4% are first generation Americans, 24% are second generation, and 4.5% are third generation. The political ideologies of commonwealth proponents are 27% liberal, 26.5% moderate, and 46.5 conservative. The language ability is as follows: Only English 2%, better in English 26.3%, no difference 25.5%, better in Spanish 38.1% and only in Spanish 8.1% .


One man in San Juan said, "I believe we should stay the way we are. It's worked for about 50 years already. We get the best of both worlds. " What is the best of both worlds? Currently, Puerto Rico receives the protection of the United States in time of war. They also receive the benefits of being U.S. citizens without having to pay taxes to the U.S. government. The citizens of Puerto Rico do pay Social Security and do have the benefits of Medicare.


The view of independence says that Puerto Rico should and does have the right to become a sovereign nation. "After nearly 495 years of foreign domination, first by Spain and then by the United States, it's about time for us to say . . . 'Viva Puerto Rico Libre y Soberano!'". Three point five percent of Puerto Ricans living in the United States are in favor for independence. The breakdown of this belief is 34.1% of first generation, 30.5% of second generation, and 35.5% of third generation are in favor of independence.

Liberal Puerto Ricans are in favor of independence by 55.6%, moderate by 11.3% and conservative by 33.2%. The language breakdown is, only English 13.9%, better in English 51.7%, no difference 13.8%, better in Spanish 11.9% and only in Spanish 8.8% .


"Puerto Rico's culture is a rich mix of Spanish, Tiano Indian, African and American influences. The resulting blend is unique, both in Latin America and the world. However, some people in Puerto Rico contend that the Puerto Rican culture is under attack by the United States, and that Statehood would in effect sign the death sentence of the Puerto Rican culture. "

The economic pros of independence are that Puerto Rico will be able to enter into trade agreements with other free nations as it so chooses. Chris Dodd, Bill Bradley, Pat Moynihan, and various members of the CBO, of Yale University and Harvard University, and others comment on the Independence economic model in very favorable terms. Every major financial analyst and economist in both the academic and federal sectors have expressed appreciation and approval to the economic strategy as being fair, equitable and workable.

In a worse case scenario, Puerto Rico will operate under a combined budget of six billion dollars. Puerto Rico would receive revenue from sources such as customs, parks, excise taxes, user-paid tolls, and service fess. That is what several other small, independent nations are doing right now.

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