Puerto Rico As The 51st State??
Matt | On 30, Apr 2010
The reality may be back on the table for Puerto Rico to join us as the 51st state.
The House of Representatives passed the Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2009 by a margin of 223-169 to allow the island territory a two-step process to what could eventually become statehood. Puerto Rico has been a U.S. territory since 1898 and three previous attempts to make it a state – in 1967, 1993, and 1998 – all failed.
The bill that passed will ask Puerto Ricans, first, if they want to change their relationship with the U.S. at all. If they say ‘yes’, then it will ask them how they want their relationship with our country to play out. This could mean they become a state, gain independence, or just have free association with the U.S.
Right now, Puerto Ricans are considered U.S. citizens, but they don’t have voting power in Congress. Think along the lines of the citizens of Washington, D.C. Puerto Rico does have a governor, legislative body, and court system, similar to each of our states. It’s weird, I know. The point is that they have some aspects of our government, but not all the protections of our Constitution. President Obama is still running things down there, at the end of the day.
Many lawmakers support giving Puerto Ricans the chance to vote on their future. But, some lawmakers from New York (of PR heritage) strongly oppose the measure. They seemed to think that Puerto Rico needs a Constitutional Convention and were not pleased with the initial options available to the island nation. I’m not fluent in Puerto Rican politics, but I think it’s an interesting proposal.
I would love to hear from Puerto Ricans about this bill. If you or someone you know was born in Puerto Rico, even if you live in the U.S. now, you will be able to vote on the measure when it goes to the general election.