At the end of the Spanish-American War, in 1898, Puerto Rico became a United States colony. Residents of Puerto Rico officially became citizens in 1917, with the Jones Act, just in time to serve in the military during World War I. Puerto Rico became a commonwealth in 1952. For decades, while they have not paid federal income taxes, they have paid into Social Security and Medicare. They send a representative to Congress, called a resident commissioner, who has all the abilities of a normal member of Congress, except they are not allowed to vote. The Puerto Rican people have voted five times on the issue of statehood, with mixed results on the issue. The most recent referendum on statehood was in June, where statehood won with 97 percent of the vote, but the vote only had 23 percent turnout. Given Puerto Rico’s long history and close relationship with the United States, is it time for Puerto Rico to become a state?
Those in favor of statehood for Puerto Rico point out that Puerto Rico needs to have a real presence in Congress for them to finally be taken seriously by the U.S. government. They point to the recent slow response to Hurricane Maria in comparison to its responses to Hurricanes Irma and Harvey as an example that Puerto Rico is just not a priority to the United States government. Many feel statehood is the only answer to improving Puerto Rico’s current state which, in the eyes of many, borders on being a Third World country.
People against statehood feel that Puerto Rico doesn’t deserve statehood. They feel that the people of Puerto Rico let their island get into the poor condition it was in before Hurricane Maria and, now, to give them statehood would put the cost of rebuilding it, physically and economically, on the taxpayers of the other states. Plus, there are people in Puerto Rico that don’t want statehood and favor independence instead. Those people feel they have been disrespected by the United States for decades and want to have nothing more to do with the U.S.
Puerto Rico’s infrastructure has been destroyed by Hurricane Maria. They are in desperate need of help, with power still mostly out, transportation severely limited, and the economy being even more compromised than in the many years of downtown prior to the storm. The bill to help Puerto Rico recover will fall to the American taxpayer, no matter what. When Puerto Rico is rebuilt, we will see where the future takes the island and its people.
In this clip, the Los Angeles Times gives a brief explanation of Puerto Rican political status:
Should Puerto Rico become a state, or should it remain a commonwealth because they have not earned the right to become a state yet?
In favor of statehood for Puerto Rico
Those in favor of statehood believe that Puerto Rico, to truly recover and prosper, needs to become a state. If they are citizens already of the United States, then they should have the right to become a state.
We the American people wants and claim statehood for our territory island 🌴 STATEHOOD NOW FOR PUERTO RICO!!! 🇺🇸🇵🇷
— Dora Aber 51 * (@dora_aber) October 15, 2017
Can we get statehood for #PuertoRico they wouldn't be ignored if they were a State
— Marc Christopher (@MarcC856) October 12, 2017
The cause of Puerto Rico's financial struggle for 100 years has been its political status. Be the President to change that; STATEHOOD now. https://t.co/L9ARAqmx9O
— Elaine M. Montgomery (@PR51_EMM) October 12, 2017
I’m not Puerto Rican but I am American. Puerto Rico needs an equal voice in the federal govt. I’d say the time for statehood is now. pic.twitter.com/EErji6Yp39
— Harold Itzkowitz (@HaroldItz) October 12, 2017
Against statehood for Puerto Rico
People against statehood feel that Puerto Rico, due to it’s poor self management, has just not earned the right to statehood yet. It has had financial difficulties long before Hurricane Maria.
Please change #5 to free Puerto Rico. No statehood, only independence for our great island nation.
— Heriberto 🇵🇷 (@herbifulyloaded) October 15, 2017
No we DON’T.
We never did and we never will.
Especially after the humiliating response given us by the US Government in our darkest hour.
— johanna rosaly (@jrosaly0113) October 14, 2017
And statehood is out of the question.
— EdAsante (@EdAsante77) October 8, 2017
Never statehood for Puerto Rico, they are undeserving of any benefits. https://t.co/xifpyO5jY0
— Chuckkel (@Chuckkele) October 14, 2017
How do you feel about granting Puerto Rico statehood?