WHY STATEHOOD

(Content courtesy of the Puerto Rico Statehood Society) 

The current political status of Puerto Rico is officially called Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico. When it is literally translated into English, it means Free Associated State of Puerto Rico. Over time, supporters of this political status have conveniently referred to it as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Territorial status is meant to be a transitional step to usher in a permanent status, such as statehood or independence. Established in 1952, the territorial arrangement it was meant to serve as a transitional step to something greater.    

In the 1980 Harris v. Rosario case, The Supreme Court of the United States acknowledged that Puerto Rico fell directly under the territorial clause of the U.S. Constitution and under the authority of Congress: “Congress, pursuant to its authority under the Territory Clause of the Constitution to make all needful rules and regulations respecting Territories, may treat Puerto Rico differently from States so long as there is a rational basis for its actions.” In effect, Congress has the authority to regard The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico as an ordinary territory and treat Puerto Rico in a different and unequal way from the other 50 states. In other words, Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States of America.

This current colonial status does not allow Puerto Ricans to vote for the President of the United States. Puerto Ricans do not have representation in the U.S. Senate and no voting representation in Congress. Instead, the 4 million U.S. Citizens of Puerto Rico only have one “Resident Commissioner” who cannot even vote on the House floor. Therefore, Puerto Ricans have no say in the making of the laws and statutes that apply to them. Even though the U.S. Supreme Court has absolute jurisdiction over Puerto Rico, Puerto Ricans do not have representation in the U.S. Senate to cast an up or down vote on Supreme Court nominees. In the end, Puerto Rico is governed by a Congress in which they are not allowed to participate in, an Executive whom they did not elect, and a Judiciary whose justices they did not confirm.     

The 4 million U.S. Citizens of Puerto Rico are not allowed to fully participate in the democratic process of their nation. Consequently, they are the victims of political discrimination. The people of Puerto Rico are treated as disenfranchised and second-class U.S. citizens.


The United States of America is supposed to be a free and democratic republic, not an empire. All of its citizens should be entitled with the right to pursue the American dream.
Why should Puerto Rico become a state?Historical & Moral Aspects
     Throughout history, the United States citizens of Puerto Rico have always responded to the call of defending our Nation in the name of liberty. Puerto Rico’s participation in the U.S. Armed Forces is disproportionately greater than that of the 50 states. Approximately 18,000 Puerto Ricans fought in the battlefields of World War I. During World War II, 65,000 Puerto Rican soldiers served in combat. In the Korean War, 61,000 Puerto Ricans once again fought in the name of freedom. In Korea, the 65th Infantry Regiment comprised mostly of Puerto Rican soldiers, distinguished themselves for bravery. General Douglas McCarthur paid tribute to these Puerto Rican heroes when he said in Tokyo in 1961: “The Puerto Ricans forming the ranks of the gallant 65th Infantry in the battlefields of Korea are writing a brilliant record of achievement in battle and I’m proud indeed to have them in this command. I wish that we may have many more like them.” Also in the Korean War, Puerto Rico officially became the third “state” per capita to lose men in combat. During the Vietnam War, Puerto Rico sent over 48,000 soldiers and faced over 3,000 casualties. In the Desert Storm campaign, approximately 2,600 Puerto Rican National Guardsmen and Reservists served in combat.

Economic Aspects
     As a state, Puerto Rico will no longer be draining approximately $22 billion per year from the American taxpayer. Thus, Puerto Rico will no longer be dependent on federal grants and will greatly contribute to the U.S. Treasury and the national economy.
Opponents of statehood have argued that Puerto Ricans would be worse off financially since statehood would mean the repeal of the federal income tax exemption. This argument is misleading. While Puerto Ricans (with the exception of federal employees) do not pay federal income taxes, they do pay federal taxes on Medicare and Social Security benefits like all other U.S. citizens. Most importantly, since Puerto Rico is exempt from federal income taxes, Puerto Ricans have the highest local income tax rate in the United States. Thus, it can be said that the funds that would go to the federal government in income taxes, go to the local government in the form of local income taxes. With statehood, Puerto Ricans would contribute their fair share to the federal government, while seeing a sharp reduction in their local income tax rate. In just like any other state, the larger share of the taxpayer’s money would go to the federal government instead of the state government. Moreover, federal income taxpayers are allowed to deduct the amount paid in local income taxes from their adjusted gross income on the Form 1040 of their federal income tax return. Studies have shown that Puerto Ricans, especially the ones in the lower social classes, would financially benefit with statehood.
     Another argument frequently used by statehood opponents is that Puerto Rico is “too poor” when compared to the states, and therefore is not ready for statehood. This argument has no standing whatsoever. To begin with, any such poverty is the result of the current colonial status, where the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico do not have equal rights in regards to benefits, rights, and responsibilities. For Puerto Ricans with low incomes, statehood would mean that they will have the same access to federal support and tax relief programs, in contrast to the current territorial status where they do not have equal rights. Throughout history, every single territory that has gained admission to the Union has witnessed a period of sharp economic growth, and Puerto Rico would be no exception. Statehood has always meant economic growth and a greater standard of living for all territories that have joined their destinies with the United States. In a recent study called Puerto Rican Statehood: A Precondition to Sound Economic Growth, by Hexner, Jenkins, Lad and Lame, the case is clearly made that statehood is necessary and essential for Puerto Rico’s economic growth.

Social Aspects
     Some opponents of statehood have also argued that having Puerto Rico as a state would mean the loss of the island’s cultural heritage, identity, and even the Spanish language. They also claim that Puerto Rico cannot become a state because Puerto Ricans “do not speak English”.
The reality is that English, along with Spanish, is already an official language in Puerto Rico. In fact, Puerto Rico made history by becoming the first U.S. jurisdiction to declare English a national language. English is a required elementary subject in public schools and throughout high school. English is also the language used in all federal agencies in Puerto Rico and serves as the common language of multiple industries, like tourism, commerce, and banking. However, the U.S. Government has never imposed a language requirement on any would-be state. Such action would be unconstitutional, since matters of language and culture are delegated to the individual states to determine, not the federal government. A good example of a historical precedent where this principle can be seen lies with the state of New Mexico. The state constitution of New Mexico was originally written in Spanish and most of its residents spoke Spanish as a first language at the time it attained statehood.
The people of Puerto Rico will never lose their identity. After interacting with the United States for over a century, Puerto Rican culture and identity continue to flourish and remain strong. After all, statehood is a political change, not a cultural one. While the United States is a melting pot of different cultures, it is also a nation of nations.

Responses

  1. We should move towards statehood as soon as possible, this government has lost its integrity and vision. Times are changing and with changes comes bigger responsibilities this government has not been able to handle and will continue to fail. I am a 13 year Veteran who moved to the island about two years ago and sadly I am so ready to move to the US. I am committed to continually talk to college students to have them understand the pros about becoming the 51st state.

  2. Hey, I like this entry. Soy americano pero vivo aqui en Puerto Rico. Llevo 8 meses acá. I have a blog about my experiences here on the island. Check them out.

  3. I’m in complete agreement. My entire family is composed by supporters of statehood, and ever since I can remember I have been as well. I’d like to become more involved with this association. I would love to see Puerto Rico as a US state some day, it would truly be the happiest day of my life. I talk to all of my friends about the advantages that we would have should we join the union, and explain how the potential disadvantages are overcome by the advantages that we’d have on the topics presented in this entry.

  4. I grew up believing in the Estado Libre Asociado, it seem like a great idea at the time when Muñoz Marin was elected, Now that i have been living in the continental U.S. i feel that life it is a lot better over here. In Puerto Rico the Politics are very nasty no one has an idea of what good or bad for the Puerto Ricans, if one says is blue the other one says is red and they argued and fight about it, forgetting about the people that are waiting for their descisions, US Congress Controls what is going on there. I believe it is time to Change and wake up and smell the coffee…..Sorry to my family which they are hardcore “populares” Democratic Party fanatics

  5. I believe that the only solution for the status of PR is between Statehood and Independence. Because the problem is the Commonwealth status that we have right now.

  6. I was born in anasco PR. Iam a retired police chief in calif. and retired sr. chief petty officer in the navy/coast guard.I have MA/BS DEGREES. STATEHOOD FOR PR is the ONLY political solution. Most americans know very little about puerto rico . Schools,the media,and politicians drop the ball on this situation.The liberal political parties,and the uninformed puerto rican community are not very pro-active about informing the public about the advantages of STATEHOOD

  7. Commonwealth status for pueto rico is based on a walfare system and is very demeaning to the puerto rican people. Second class citizeship is an outdated political situation. Years fron now, we will say “how could we be so cruel,so racist, so dumb.” PUERTO RICANS have been citizens since 1917.

  8. Money runs everything and anything. The old Spanish money that still controls and manipulates the population with intimidation is the primary problem in PR. One prime example is the media in PR, they continue to tell the people that PR is a free country kinda just associated to the US when in fact Puerto Rico is the United States!

    • I am 1000% for Statehood! I am a white 61 year old man from Alabama. I have prayed for the day to see the 51st star for puerti in our flag!

  9. Interestingly, the restrictions are only geographical – that is the residents of Puerto Rico do not participate in national elections (except for their nonvoting representative in the House), but upon relocation to any of the states, their rights and privileges as a U.S. citizen are enhanced to the maximum equally!!

  10. Keep dreaming people are the real problems in puerto rico going to be resolved with STATEHOOD also say good by to your scollarsips before you talk dtatehood come live in Us for 1 yeah and tell me do you want statehood do you really want your politics controled by other people 5 hours away who have to ties or even some who have never been to the island are you guys still going to have your cock fights,all the trafic signals in spanish have you thought about the money that would cost and are you guys still going to have you presous culture g-et ready to pay hundreds of dallors in federal tax – open your eyes and realize the true effect-

    • It seems to me that you are one of the reasons our beloved island still stuck back in the 50’s. Don Luis Munoz Marin did a great thing by creating the “ELA” and worked well back then. Also, you have to remember that he, Munoz Marin, admitted that Puerto Rico will have to become a state of the continental U.S. We will be governed by a state governor with a difference that we will be represented in congress by six congressman and 2 senators fighting for our equality. Look at Hawaii, they are further away than us and are very proud of been a state of this great democratic republic. I served for 20 years in the service and I am a proud American as you should be. Many of our brothers and sisters have given their lives to protect this nation. Please do not be so naïve and close minded. You like all of the benefits you get from this nation and enjoy the liberties and freedom granted by the U.S. Constitution.

    • To my Dear David,You are a morron and worst of it, your writing sucks,learn to write first and then post your stupid and ignorant comments.

  11. I would like to hear the opinions about: what would happen if PR becomes independent.

    If the pr govt can’t get it together as a territory, imagine “independent”. Watch out for CHAVEZ…

  12. Puerto Rico is but a COLONIA, to our own detrement maybe we do not pay taxes directly to the US (we do pay higher prices for durable goods, banking and credict card interest and for local inferior utilities and services, and On and On) and have no true representation. The higher local taxes are squandered by local goverment PNP, PPD or if given a chance Independents. Only “OLD GUARD” capitalist benefict from the present status of “Control-Caus” for the bennefic of the few. Culturally the only lost would be the national Olympic team and Miss.Universe, well “la-di-dah” neigther one pays my bills or puts food on my table nor will it asure my family of a brighter future. We would have a chance to compete for a place against the main-land hopefulls, if we are good enought that in itself would mean something. Language, music and culture in general or should I say what remains can be preserved or restoared to what it use to be (NOT Reggeton or Spanglish) Resentment for the fealiures of the Free Associated State are not only the Americans foult, we also have to stand up an acept personal responsibility for ourself as well. Even if you do not agree it still does not change the fact that Puerto Rico is only little over 1200 Sq. miles and has a population of about 4 million people not counting dessendats in the US and no natural resources to draw from, just regionaly we are not the only island nor the only option for people to go and spend a couple thousand dollars a week to visict, yet we are among the most crime redden places in the Caribe. The time has come to put the past behind and move to statehood while there is something to anex.

  13. You need to get a pro-statehood packet and video into the hands of every top politician in this country.I mean President Obama and VP Biden and chairman of the DNC and RNC.You need a pro-statehood song with anyone like Jennifer Lopez,Daddy Yankee or Marc Anthony etc..Get the message out to eveybody like Univision,Telemundo and every Spanish language radio in the mainland and on the island.I’m not of Puerto Rican descent,but I’m 100% for Puerto Rico statehood.

    • This is a videop I made to promote Puerto Rico Statehood. I am not Puerto Rican, but I do support the movement. The reason the views are so low is because I had to take down the video because of a spelling error. So this is the new brand new version. I hope you like it.

  14. well i was born in aguadilla P.R and i support the statehood because is the only solution to our problems so i approve the H.R 2499 i want puerto rico become a state no mare commonwealth only statehood

  15. Iam a US Soldier and Iam Proud to be,and like Dr. Martin Litherking “I have a dream” that soon Puerto Rico will be a Statehood 51.

  16. Is time to act!! we will have a “plebicito” in the island… We should inform the peole that as Americans we are part of the US and we need full right’s… is important to fix the problem of the “Status” in PR. It is time. Statehood for PR.

  17. well im a state hood suporter because i don’t believe in a commonwealth or in dependence and i know that the U.S soon will add us as a state we need the same right’s we are U.S citizens since 1917. so come on and lets join say with me U.S.A U.S.A the end of the commonwealth is near

  18. Is very good to have a dream, I honest think that P.R. never will be a statehood, there will be a lot of time delivetating and voting, but at the end of the day it is not convenient for U.S., and remember that we are not pure white that will have an impact in the decition, the discrimination advanced a lot, but still is part of the game.
    Think in this example: You won a case in the court to collet $100,000.00, but probably you never collet that money, allways will be a way to go away. Time will tell. My father was born in P.R. I do not live in P.R., but I can see both part imparcially. I hope the best for P.R. always.

  19. i was born .in .p.r. and lived in u.s.a. from
    1942 to 1969.I served 8 years in the u.s.a
    airforce.I think its about time that P.R.
    becomes a state of u.s.a.The present type
    of govervement has us feeling left out and
    we have very little to say.Iwant to live to
    see it as state of u.s.a.

  20. Start playing and supporting football here in PR. Yes, our nation’s must loved sport is played here in PR since the 60’s but without much supoort from the government, specially the “populares” since it’s “football americano”, as it is called here. Let’s start acting like the other states and support football here in PR. I’m tired of saying “I play football americano” when I can say just football. Please, support our sport, America’s sport. Please go to http://www.praff.com for more info.

  21. Iquality for all, donth come about been a second class person, only by changing the status of the Iland. That why we support the Statehood for Puerto Rico.

  22. is all true everybody knows that we all need to have all the rights as u.s citizens so lets fight for it lets make a reunion with the congress we need to be listen we need equalty letss go to the congress and show to everyone that we want the statehood for Puerto Rico yes we can yes we can

  23. I, would like to our island, became the next state of the Union, I’m living in Puerto Rico and Florida, but I would like for ever stop this complains and became a state as soon as possible. I’m a veteran of 63 and I will not stop to resolve this barrier, if we give our life for our country…whats more!

    Carlos M. Carr-Rodriguez

    • UNDER STATEHOOD PR WOULD RECEIVE BILLIONS MORE IN FEDERAL FUNDING.. WHERE IS THIS MONEY GOING TO COME FROM ? THE TAX TAYERS HERE IN THE US THUS INCREASING OUR TAXES. WHAT ECONOMICAL MEASURES WILL PR TAkE TO PAY THIS EXTRA FEDERAL FUNDING BACK YEARLY SINCE THIS IS NOT FREE MONEY? TAXES IN PR WILL GO UP FOR THE WEALTHY AND THE MIDDLE CLASS AND THE POOR WILL BE DEPENDENT ON MORE MONEY THUS CREATING A SOCIETY OF MORE “VAGOS ” LIKE YOU ARE SEEING TODAY BUT ON STEROIDS. YOUR ANALYSIS IS OLD BECAUSE WE LIVE IN A DIFFERENT ERA AND A GLOBAL ECONOMY WITH EMERGING MARKETS R COUNTRIES THAT PR IS MISSING OUT. PR SHOULD BE ABLE TO SHOP AROUND FOR THE BEST PRICE CONCERNING IT’S ECONOMY. BY SIGNING BILATERAL AGREEMENTS AND ELIMINATING THE. CABOTAJE LAW AND THE INJUSTICE US TAX LAWS PR WILL GET OUT OF THIS NIGHTMARE AND THAT.FADING DREAM OF STATEHOOD.

  24. My family is from Lajas, and myself am a Nuyorican love the easiness of traveling back and forth. I do not really support the ideal of Statehood, but I don’t live in the island to make that decision. Historically, the United States granted PR citizenship right before they entered WWI, had madman experiments tested of PR women making them sterile, enforcing hard labor work through brutality on farms, and creating slums the first called La Perla in San Juan. There are alot of old Puerto RIcan people from the 1920’s to 1960’s who fear moving back due to these past events. The US political system is even more corrupt than the rest of the world. PR joining the US is really not going to make anything better, because look around in the US, nothing is good here. Puerto Rico needs to become independent and officially join they’re Latin American community by having a nationality. Regardless as a Puerto Rican/Boricua culture you will never be accepted by the mainstream and treated equal even if they became a state. Patria Boriquena over all.

  25. Yes!

  26. My question is those who live in Puerto Rico who live off the land that has been in their family for generations. Will they lose it because they cannot afford to pay taxes on it? Also will the Federal goverment come in and take it under eminent domain? I Visit the Island every year and love it. Yes I want better for “Mi Isla” but not at the expense of the poor losing their land for a few bucks of goverment handout.

  27. To act on the Puerto Rican referendum of November 6, 2012 http://wh.gov/9gSy

  28. The problem is not just the status, but you and your actions as a whole. Puerto Ricans may want to be a state but nobody forces them to elect the dimwits who end up representing them. The outgoing administration is made of republicans and democrats. A taste of things to come with statehood. Of course, you have the money issue. How about doing something for ourselves for a change instead of depending on others. Obviously a dependant country won’t even dare to think of even thinkin independently.

  29. Puerto Rico estado 51 se Escucha tremendo ,la isla tiene mucho a favor de Ella .Puerto Rico tiene una economia diversa Es una de las lideres en bio-tecnologia y si sigue en el camino de la tecnologia de energia renovables impulsara Los fondos en Los cofres y contriburia a la economia de la mainland ademas tiene el unico rainforest en la nacion. Es dificil el camino pero now ottos

    • Puerto Rico tiene mucho a favor de Ella . Si Ella sigue en la bio-tecnologia y sigue con las reformas en su policy sobre energia y sigue en el camino de energias renovables como solar , vientos y wave conversion y otras las cofres estarian bien y aportara a la mainland ademas tiene el unico rainforest en la nacion eso nada mas Es incalculable el valor para la nacion . La isla a derramado su Sangre , sudor ,y lagrimas junto a sus hermanos y hermanas de Los estados en toda las guerras mas recientes y en el Pasado tambien el pueblo alzo su voz ya no cree en el status quo y quiere cambios no vayas en la historia al lado equivocado Cuando se Escriba el Nuevo capitulo en la evolucion de la isla del encanto


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