By Sam Quiros
In a recent article the question was posed “should Puerto Rico be #51?”.
A review if the Internet commentary revealed a lack of understanding of the Puerto Rico situation, and an almost universal negativity towards the possibility.
If people don’t want Puerto Rico to be the 51st state, fine. That is their right. They are entitled to their opinion. But at least let’s make it an informed opinion, shall we?
All 4 million residents of Puerto Rico are US citizens. This makes us a little different than your average territory.
As US citizens, we have fought and died in every single US war since WW1, at a higher rate per capital than any other state of the Union. And although residents of Puerto Rico do not pay federal income taxes, the federal government does collect over $3 billion per year in taxes from Puerto Rico.
What? You thought income taxes were the only taxes the federal government collects?
So our contributions to this Union in blood and treasure are clear. Yet we are taxed without representation in Congress (except for a single non voting delegate in the House). Taxation without representation. Where have I heard that before? I believe that preceded a tea party in Boston some years back.
A lot of Internet comments centered around Puerto Rico’s debt problem. Yes, Puerto Rico has $70 billion in debt. We’ve spent more than we took in. The US is $20 TRILLION in debt. So before you lecture us on the wisdom of social spending, take a good long look in the mirror. And yet Puerto Rico’s debt could be a rounding error in the US debt. Yet we have no say in our political destiny. We have no vote in Congress. And Congress rules Puerto Rico. So ultimately, whose fault is it?
We are forced to abide by federal laws we have no say in. We are ruled by a Congress where we have no vote. Congress has the constitutional authority to resolve the Puerto Rico “issue”. Yet it hides behind Puerto Rico’s muddied local political landscape and the excuse that Puerto Rican’s haven’t expressed our “will”. Well, now we have. What is Congress going to do about it?
Either give us Statehood so we can have 2 Senators and 7 Representatives that can speak and vote on our behalf, or give us Independence and let us be. But this colonial situation we’ve been living over the past 120 years is unacceptable. Congress lacks the will to act while 4 million US citizens languish in a territory, taxed without representation, and subject to laws we have no say in that have contributed to our current financial situation.
Puerto Ricans have paid with blood and treasure for their right to be the 51st state, despite what the Internet punditry says. So make us a State. Or set us free. Just make up your minds and ACT.