Posted by: José Cabrera | April 15, 2008

Protecting Democracy at Home

Puerto Rico is a beautiful archipelago located in the Caribbean Sea, populated by over four million U.S. citizens. Puerto Rico is a non-incorporated territory of the United States, and Puerto Ricans are American citizens by birth. Regrettably, Puerto Rico also holds the infamous distinction of being the world’s oldest colony with over 500 years of colonial status.


Puerto Rico is void of elemental rights for any American citizen that lives within its jurisdiction. American citizens residing in Puerto Rico cannot vote for President of the United States. American citizens in Puerto Rico have only one non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives and have no representation whatsoever in the Senate. Most importantly, the U.S. Constitution gives Congress supreme authority over a territory such as Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is subject to federal law, and yet American citizens in Puerto Rico have no tangible say regarding the crafting of that law. Thousands of Puerto Ricans have also fought and died defending both the United States and the freedom we hold dear without acquiring the full rights accorded to all American citizens in the 50 states.


The issue of Puerto Rico’s political status is a major problem of American democracy. The United States has been a worldwide beacon for democracy over the past 230 years and it is wrong that American citizens in Puerto Rico are only given second-class citizenship. A domestic issue of this proportion cannot be ignored. Puerto Ricans and all Americans deserve better.


Accordingly, the Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association is an organization for all students who view statehood as the solution to Puerto Rico’s political status dilemma. Puerto Rico should become the fifty-first state of the Union in order to fully guarantee the constitutional rights of American citizens in Puerto Rico and protect democracy and freedom at home.


José Cabrera


Note: The author is President of the Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association and a student of Law at the University of Dayton School of Law in Ohio.  Comments can be sent to


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