Although the media downplayed it, earlier this year, the House voted, 223 (y) to 169 (n), to approve a measure for a federally sanctioned process on whether Puerto Rico should become the 51st state. The measure allows Puerto Rico to hold referendums to determine the island’s political status. Voting can occur at every 8-year interval to decide its fate. If the vote were to pass to change the political status, a second vote would ultimately decide the action.
This time around, the vote, which took place on April 29, 2010, was different. The bill had two parts. The first was asking not whether they wanted their island to become a state – as in past votes – but whether they wanted to change to a “different political status.” The question, to me was simple – yes. There are plenty of Boricuas fed up with the political, and current medical situation on the island. Something a vote in favour would change.
That “different political status” is spelled out in part two of the bill, which allowed for 3 choices:
- Sovereignty in Association with the United States.
If Puerto Rico were a U.S. state, it would be 27th in population and have 6 seats in the House. Puerto Ricans have been citizens since 1917, but that status has not been ultimately decided on and it’s 3.9 million residents still don’t have voting representation in national government. Puerto Ricans born after 1941 are legally naturally born citizens of the U.S.
There is a misconception that residents don’t pay taxes. But alas, they do. They pay import/export sales tax, commodity taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes. The only taxes not paid on the island are Federal, although federal employees and companies or people who do business with Puerto Rican companies, do pay.
In my opinion, Puerto Rico would benefit greatly from statehood. This would fix many underlying issues going on right now. For example, people who are on SSI disability can live on the island, peacefully, instead of having to cheat the system. Healthcare would be vastly improved upon. Students of the local universities wouldn’t be plagued by the many problems they have been facing lately. Government workers would have better job security.
Of course, as elsewhere in the U.S., being a state has its downfall. You’ll have to pay more taxes, get less in return and have to suffer through Republicans possibly taking over Congress this year, not that Democrats are any better.
by AJ Rodriguez