Is Puerto Rico About to Become the 51st State?

Once the euphoria fades, more of the media will turn to pushing Puerto Rican statehood after a non-binding referendum where Puerto Ricans  sorta voted for statehood… but not really.

Why all the caveats?

1. The only reason that statehood even pulled off a slim majority is because the economy has hit Puerto Rico hard and they’re looking for more money.

2. A majority of Puerto Ricans did not, in any reasonable interpretation, vote for statehood.

First, by a 54% to 46% margin, voters rejected their current status as a U.S. commonwealth. In a separate question, 61% chose statehood as the alternative, compared with 33% for the semi-autonomous “sovereign free association” and 6% for outright independence.

Calling this a majority vote is debatable. And that’s even without this problematic part of the story.

One-third of all votes cast — were left blank on the question of preferred alternative status. If you assume those blank votes are anti-statehood votes, the true result for the statehood option would be less than 50%

So no, a majority of Puerto Ricans did not vote for statehood, but that doesn’t matter, because the media and Obama will begun trumpeting a successful statehood vote based on a non-binding vote in which 40 percent voted for statehood as a potential alternative, without it being clear how many of that 40 percent were also part of the 54 percent that wanted a change in status… as a mandate.

Obama said that he wanted a clear majority to vote in favor of statehood. This is a bait and switch vote that produced nothing resembling that. And the contrast with the supermajority for Hawaii’s statehood referendum in 1959 where over 90 percent voted for statehood could not be more glaring.

And did I mention that this is purely about money?

An economic downturn and shrinking population were the factors that contributed to the support for statehood, where referendums in 1967, 1993 and 1998 failed, Puerto Rico Secretary of State Kenneth McClintock said.

Most Puerto Ricans already live and vote in America for obvious reasons. But accepting Puerto Rico as a state would add some Congressmen and two Senators. And despite the Puerto Rican presence at the Republican convention, they would end up being Democrats.

Statehood for Puerto Rico would be right up there with statehood for Nevada, which was a political ploy by Lincoln and the Republicans at the time.

  • Mary Sue

    From what I know of Puerto Rican politicians, the place is likely another Hawaii, politically. Not a lot of potential electoral votes, but still.

  • otl

    All future Democrats!

  • otl

    Half of the citizens of Puerto Rico receive food stamps. Puerto Rico doesn't have full access to all of the US welfare programs.If given statehood,however, they would. An 8/1996, report from the GAO showed that P.R's would pay an estimated $49 million in income taxes but would get an additional 3 – 4 BILLION
    $ from taxpayers in the rest of the country. P.R also has very high rates of AIDS, drug abuse, crime, poverty, illegitimacy, & unemployment. Our poorest state, Mississippi has a per capita income of $15,853. Puerto Rico has a per capita income of $7,630. P.R's who move to the US fare worse in some respects than those who live on the island.The illegitimacy rate on the island is 30 %, the figure is 60% for Puerto Ricans in the US. In NYC, where all U.S. welfare programs are available to them, P.R'S receive more welfare than any other group of people. Lastly, P.R. has a different language (80% of P.R's speak only Spanish) culture, & traditions. Many P.R's see themselves as P.R's only, not as Americans. Yeah, all good reasons to grant Puerto Ricans statehood, just what the US needs at this time!

    • Mary Sue

      I have to wonder what kind of regulations they have over on that Island, and what's keeping their local economy somewhat stagnant.

      • rich___b

        They elect too many democrats that's the biggest reason. So they have a lousy business climate. Also most PR citizens don't speak English, and PR is not close to the rest of the US, so COL is high like Hawaii and Alaska.

  • rich___b

    In the past becoming a state gave PR less overall. I guess that has changed. I wonder if Barry and the Democrats will push this in his second term.

  • Ar'nun

    When I first arrived in Kuwait prior to the invasion of Iraq, one of the largest battalions stationed there in a support role were the Puerto Rican Army National Guard. From the way it was described to me by a few of the officers, their Adjutant General begged the Pentagon to deploy his troops and the troops there were overwhelming proud to be there.

    If they want Statehood, I say they earned it.

  • Ezequiel Gonzalez

    All political parties in Puerto Rico agree that Puerto Rico should not be subjected to the territorial clause of the United States Constitution. Yet the official position of the Popular Democratic Party, the supporters of the status quo is that Puerto Rico is no longer under the territorial clause. They believe that the process that took place from 1950 to 1952, when the present Commonwealth status was created, and the representation that the United States made before the United Nations at that time had the effect of removing Puerto RIco from the list of countries subjected to a colonial regime, which in their view is equivalent to removing Puerto Rico from under the territorial clause.

    So, in their view Puerto Rico is no longer under the territorial clause. If the first question in the plebiscite would have been worded properly, something like: “Do you want Puerto Rico to be subjected to the territorial clause of the constitution of the United Stated?”, then 100% of the voters would have voted no. Instead of that the rulling Pro-Statehood, New Progressive Party party and their leader Luis Fortuño, defined the present status as subjected to the territorial clause and then asked the people if they wanted to remain under such a status.

    So, there was no clear way for a Popular Democratic Party member to answer that question. On the one hand yes they want the present Commonwealth status to continue, but on the other hand they want Congress to clarify that the present status is a new kind of federal relationship not subjected to the territorial clause of the US Constitution.

    On the second question the present Commonwealth status was not present: The choices were Statehood, Free Association as defined by international law (a form of Independence, closely associated with the United States via a Compact of Free Association) and Full Independence. Once again the present status was not listed there. It was not in the first question and it was not in the second question.

    The Popular Democratic Part;y was faced with a difficult decision. If they went on a full boicot of the plebiscite, then about half the eligible voters will not participate in the plebiscite, but since in such event only count those who participate in it, those voters would not count and Statehood would win easily.

    Thus they choose to participate but to vote YES in the first question to say No to the official position of the ruling party. Then in the second question they asked the voters to leave the ballot blank for their preferred option was not there. Those blank ballots in the second question they claim must be counted, for it is a valid political expression. They want to continue with the present relationship, and t;hey do not want any of the alternatives presented in the second question.

    To complicate the subject even more, many in the Popular Democratic Party believe that the present Commonwealth status, whether or not it is under the territorial clause, should move toward Free Association. So the leaders of this faction within the PPD Party asked the people to voted NO in the first question to reject the territorial clause and to vote for Free Association in the second question.

    So we see that those who believed in Statehood had a clear way to vote in this ballot: NO in the first question and Statehood under the second. Those who believed in the present Commonwealth status were disenfranchised, they have no direct way to vote in this plebiscite.

    The present Commonwealth status as defined by those who support it was not in the ballot. Its followers voted in a myriad of ways trying to defeat both Governor Fortuño, and the Statehood option.

    Thus the results the plebiscite are contradictory and can be interpreted in various ways. If you only take into account the options in the second question then yes, Statehood won with over 61% of the vote. But if you take into account, as a valid political expression, those who left the second question blank, as their political Party asked them to do, then Statehood got only 45% of the vote, the same percentage they have gotten in the other plebiscites. Even more if you consider both the present Commonwealth Status and the ELA Soberano (free association) option included in the ballot as variations of the present status, then the Commonwealth option won handily (530,000 who voted for Free Association and 468,000 who choose to leave the second question blank). Finally if we remember that both, the ELA SOberano and Full Independence were listed and defined in the ballot as forms of National Sovereignty, as variations of Independence, then Independence got over 500,000 votes in this plebiscite.

    SO my friends, to say that Statehood won this plebiscite, is just an interpretation among many others. Don’t let Fortuño, fool you. THe support for Statehood in Puerto Rico is the same, it has not grown, just 45% of the vote. THe support for National Sovereignty has grown to 38% and is becoming the major force within the Popular Democratic Party, the traditional supporters of the Present Commonwealth Status.

    That growth of the National Sovereignty feeling in Puerto Rico is the main relevant factor in this electoral cycle . Not only did the support for Free Association grew handsomely, but candidates from the Popular Democratic Party who had identify themselves clearly with the National Sovereignty Movement won handsomely., even defeating the GOP Republican Major of San Juan who was going for his fourth term in office.

    Yes, statehood was the option that got the most direct votes, but its level of support among the people stop ed growing a long time ago, in the 90’s, and the fear of Independence and National Sovereignty that the Cold War had implanted in the subconscious mind of the Puerto Rican people is fading away. The National Sovereignty feeling is growing strong, is growing fast and within a generation will be the absolute majority.

    • Omar

      National sovereignty never got a majority and never will. The only reason "free association" even got that far (32%) was because the some Popular Democratic Party members and some Commonwealth supporters confused free association with the current status. After all, the legal Spanish term for "Commonwealth" of Puerto Rico is "Estado Libre Asociado" which means "free associated state", which is what the "free association" option was supposed to be literally. The clear majority of islanders voted for statehood (61%), which Republicans should support considering the fact that the Republican Party of Puerto Rico (which is affiliated with mainland Republicans) was founded on the principles of statehood. Support for "National Sovereignty" (aka secession) is supported only by Communists who hate America and support despotic regimes like the Castro dictatorship in Cuba and the Chavez autocracy in Venezuela (both regimes openly fund and support the separatist movement, which is a Communist movement by nature). The only status option that has gained popularity throughout the course of many years is statehood. Bottom line: statehood won, the blank ballots do not count. That's the reality.

      • RW Jorge


        • Omar

          The Republican Party in Puerto Rico did not really dissolve. It still functions within the New Progressive Party as a division of the national Republican Party. Luis Ferre created the New Progressive Party (named after Theodore Roosevelt's "Bull Moose Party") in the late 1960s in order to get bipartisan support (from both Republicans and Democrats) for statehood. The New Progressive Party has members who are affiliated with either the Democrats or the Republicans. The Popular Democratic Party (which supports the current territorial status) has members who are affiliated mainly with Democrats. It is also a well-known fact that the secessionist movement is openly supported by the Castro dictatorship and the Chavez autocracy. The island/mainland party affiliation is this: New Progressive Party (Republicans/Democrats), Popular Democratic Party (Democrats) and the separatist groups (all Communist totalitarians) The fact is that the New Progressive Party is a bipartisan local party in Puerto Rico. That's the reality.

  • US.PR. miguel

    Look i feel Puerto Rico is too close to the united states to be ignored. If a terrorist group made it a base be would be up a creek since there are no travel restrictions this should be part of the State hood solution. From the little I know drug lords are using PR as a drop off point and getting away with it another reason PR needs to be seen as a real problem if left unattended. Drug users are happy to keep that door open but when it funds terrorism i don't think it will in the end. This is a an opinion.

  • Omar

    There are some misconception with this article. First of all, Puerto Ricans are not "overwhelmingly" Democratic. Yes, the ones in New York are primarily Democrats, but the ones in Florida and elsewhere are up for grabs. In fact, at the local level, most elected Puerto Rican officials in Florida are Republicans. There are many reasons why Republicans should support statehood for Puerto Rico. The island's Republican Party was founded on the principles of statehood. Past Republican presidents like Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush have supported statehood for Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, the island's politics are not between Democrats and Republicans, but between local parties. The two main local parties are the New Progressive Party (NPP), which supports statehood for Puerto Rico; and the Popular Democratic Party (PDP); which supports the current "Commonwealth" status. Many members of both local parties are affiliated with the national stateside parties (Democrats and Republicans). The NPP has members affiliated with either Democrats or Republicans, while the PDP has members that are affiliated mainly with Democrats. In other words, virtually all Republicans in Puerto Rico support statehood for the island, while Democrats are divided between statehood supporters and supporters of the current status. Last year, the National Federation of Republican Women passed a resolution supporting statehood for Puerto Rico If Puerto Rico becomes a state, it will most likely be a swing state. Also, statehood should not be viewed as a partisan issue. Statehood should be viewed as an American issue because it affects everyone in the United States. Regarding the language issue, Puerto Rico has two official languages (since 1902): Spanish and English. The government is required, by law, to provide information to the people in both languages. The reason why English proficiency in the island is an issue is because of the Popular Democratic Party's xenophobic policies regarding language. The PDP falsely claim that bilingual proficiency would somehow "weaken" Hispanic culture. That is a lie, because Puerto Rico's constitution states this: "the coexistence in Puerto Rico of the two great cultures of the American Hemisphere". Since language is part of culture, bilingual proficiency is consistent with the island's constitution. Before the 1950s, almost all subjects in education (except for Spanish) were taught in English, but when the PDP won the election in 1948, the party reversed the educational curriculum. You can blame the PDP's agenda for the issue regarding language. Fortunately, the government brought back the English proficiency education program earlier this year. As for the plebiscite result, statehood won a majority of 61% and the "No" option won with 54%. The blank ballots do not count, since the plebiscite required both questions to be answered. If voters really wanted to keep the current status, then "Yes" should have gotten over 50% of the vote. Bottom line: most residents in Puerto Rico want statehood, which was victorious in Tuesday's plebiscite. The residents in Puerto Rico want to have full equal rights as American citizens. Therefore, statehood is the path to success and to the American Dream.

  • Surak

    This is a nasty use of what decision theorists call an agenda to get a pre-determined outcome, namely, statehood. All three alternatives – status quo, statehood, independence – should have been on the first and only ballot. Status quo gets 46% – nearly half. Statehood gets 61% of 54%, or 33%, considerably less. As usual, Puerto Ricans prefer the status quo.

    • Omar

      They do not prefer the status quo. Not all voters who voted yes on the first question left the second question blank. Why do you support the Popular Democratic Party? Why do you support the current status over statehood? The current status is nowhere near as good as statehood. Regardless of how voters answered the first question, they still had to answer the second question. Quit being an apologist for the PDP and the current status. Statehood won.

  • riverboatbill

    Stick it onto Florida.

  • JL Freedom

    statehood did not win and will never come to puerto rico because we do not want it and the pro statehood party should just get on a plane and move out of puerto rico its that easy to live in a state pick from any of the 50 there is because puerto rico will never be 51st state the numbers are clear here no to statehood 4 time and this joke of a bill write by them for them if they want to call that a win find its still 4 to 1 the pnp should just get out of puerto rico we do not want statehood or them and that why we vote there leader out off office respect the choice of the people that have said no 4 time we should we have to vote over and over just because they can take a loss there are law for this no mean no

    • Omar

      Listen you Communist, the majority of people in Puerto Rico chose statehood. You are upset because independence always loses. Why don't you and the other separatists move to Cuba or Venezuela or any other far-left regime? Statehood won, deal with it.

  • Yasmine

    Puerto Rico will never become a state. That is just a fact. There should be no more voting on whether it should or not because Puerto Rico has neglected it over and over. We are not Americans and nor do we want to be Americans. If we wanted to become a state, we would have made it happen a long time ago. The people in PR who do want statehood should just move to the United States, and satisfy their needs. People should just respect that we do not want statehood.

    • Omar

      Yasmin you are so wrong. Statehood is the only status option that has seen an increase in popularity over the years. You are simply part of the left-wing alliance of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP)and the Puerto Rico Independence Party (PIP) in trying to destroy conservatism in the island. Besides, the number of people who chose statehood on the second question in the ballot is greater than the number of people who voted "Yes" on the first question. For the first time ever, more people chose statehood than the curent status. That's a fact. If you hate America so much, why don't you move to Cuba or Venezuela or any other despotic regime. Bottom line: statehood won. That's the reality.

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