Response to Washington Times article: Pushing the statehood issuePushing the statehood issue
Dear Mr. McAlpin,
I thank you, as I thank all representatives of the English-Only lobby, for keeping the issue of Puerto Rican equality on the forefront of today’s political discussions. It is indeed a benefit to the statehood cause whenever your mistakes are broadcasted for all to appreciate. I say this, with all due respect.
Please allow me to clarify some of your mistaken assumptions.
1. You argue that the motivating principle behind Puerto Rico’s statehood movement is a kind of “manifest destiny;” however, the principle behind manifest destiny is that US citizens in the federal states wish to expand the territorial boundaries of the US, in the case of Puerto Rico, it is the people of the island that seek union. That makes it the opposite of manifest destiny.
2. There is no such thing as a “Hispanic State,” in the US, there can only be “States.” However, if the makeup of a state’s population defines a state, Puerto Rico would not be alone in its Hispanic tradition. I encourage you to study the history and makeup of: Arizona, California, Florida, New Mexico, and Texas. You would quickly recognize that there are more Hispanics in each one of those already states, than in Puerto Rico.
3. It is indeed necessary to “review a little Puerto Rican history,” just as long as it’s accurate. Puerto Rico did indeed become a protectorate of the US as a result of the Spanish American War, however, it never had a right to a seat in the United Nations. I am curious to know how you came to that conclusion.
4. Further correcting your historical recitation, and legal opinion, in 1952 Puerto Rico created its territorial government (as a step towards statehood), but not through a “commonwealth act” the cavalier term you choose to use, but as a product of a federally sanctioned referendum (Public Law 81-600).
5. Also, Puerto Ricans do not become US citizens by entering the US, as you claim, Puerto Ricans ARE US citizens by the very fact that they were born in Puerto Rico. This has been the case since 1917 through the Jones Act.
6. Puerto Rico has two official languages: English and Spanish. Both are used on a regular basis through ordinary government business. Having clarified these mistakes, allow me to further indicate that although the statehood option has failed to win an absolute majority, it has only grown in support since its ascension into the political arena.
Also, let us be clear, constant public polling through referendums is not an inherently bad thing. As I mentioned to one of your board members in the past, we conduct this constant polling every 6 years for our senators, every 4 for our state governments and president, and every 2 for our congressmen. I fail to see how polling a people that is evolving in its status preference any different than allowing for democratic elections on a regular basis. It seems counter to our democratic principles to hold the people captive to past opinions. People do change their minds, and therefore we allow for constant elections. Referendums are the essence of democracy.
HR 2499 allows for the millions of US citizens of Puerto Rico to choose their political future through the fairest process ever afforded to them. The options presented reflect the reality of our political status. The first referendum asks whether a change is wished. If so, then three options are given: statehood, independence, or association outside the territorial clause. This process seeks to poll the people of Puerto Rico, not its parties. You seem to make the mistake of confusing the commonwealth movements with the commonwealth party (Popular Democratic Party). The commonwealth movement has two main, and opposing, status preferences. The first wishes not to change anything regarding status, and the second wishes to place Puerto Rico as an associated island outside the territorial clause of the US Constitution. As I mentioned before, HR 2499 wishes to poll the people, not the parties, and therefore must do the just thing and provide all the preferences wished by the people. You see, Mr. McAlpin, the bill doesn’t tilt to the side of statehood supporters; the people tilt the results by sheer preference.
Mind you, as you have made clear in your manipulative statements, you and your organization seem uninterested in any alleged “imbalance” in this process. You would be more than willing to have any process at all, so long as English is the only language used by the Government of Puerto Rico. This sheds light into the motives behind your arguments, and indeed this article.
However, you are certainly right. Puerto Ricans are a “defiant people,” and shall not cease until they are given full membership as their rights as “stubborn” citizens afford. That is why the people support HR2499, because it helps improve democracy at home.
Raul R. Vidal
Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association