Puerto Rico is the largest and most populous U.S. territory. It’s about the size of Connecticut, in fact, population-wise. It’s had a unique status since being ceded to the United States after the Spanish-American War and since a series of laws which were enacted to govern its relationship to the U.S. in the ensuing years.
In recent decades there has been considerable debate about Puerto Rico becoming a state. Given the many pros and many cons of statehood, there is nothing close to an actual consensus on the matter, with the old saying going “if you ask two Puerto Ricans about statehood, you’ll get three opinions.” There have been numerous referenda on the matter. In one, “none of the above” beat “statehood,” “status quo” and “independence.” So you see how that goes.
The most recent referendum took place last month. It went 97% in favor of statehood. The catch: there was a 23% turnout due to the pro-status quo party boycotting the thing. So you see how that goes, part 2.
A win is a win, however, and the governor of Puerto Rico — a big pro-statehood guy — is forming a delegation to go to Washington to petition Congress to grant the island statehood. We all know someone on the delegation:
Puerto Rico’s governor has recruited retired baseball star Ivan Rodriguez to help argue for statehood for the United States territory. Ricardo Rossello on Monday appointed the Hall of Famer to a commission charged with going to the U.S. Congress to demand statehood.
As I noted above, the pros and cons of statehood are complicated. A lot of involves the federal benefits Puerto Ricans can receive if statehood is granted. A lot of it involves taxes which will leveled and business incentives which could disappear if it’s granted. There are considerations with debt that Puerto Rico has incurred from time to time. There are, obviously, civil rights and anti-colonialism arguments involved as well. The United States passed a law a few years back to create an oversight board to deal with Puerto Rico’s debt and that too has led to controversy and complication. It’s all heady stuff which could probably occupy a team of political science PhDs for several careers.
I have no idea how well-versed Pudge is on all of that, but if he isn’t yet up to speed I’m sure he can . . . catch on quickly.