Should Puerto Rico become the 51st state?

Should Puerto Rico become the 51st state?

#StatehoodForPR
#KeepPRSeparate
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An independent study conducted by Puerto Rican officials has raised the estimated death toll for Hurricane Maria from just 64 to 2,975. The tepid response from the U.S. government reignited debate around whether or not Puerto Rico should become the 51st state. Puerto Rico is home to roughly 3.5 million people, and many believe they deserve the right to vote in U.S. elections and representation in Congress. But others oppose statehood, arguing Puerto Rico is better off as a commonwealth or just claiming full independence from the United States. What do you think? 🇵🇷

6 Mos Until Voting Ends
#StatehoodForPR
#KeepPRSeparate

After the devastating hurricane hit the island, President Trump shared his opinion that Puerto Rico had been so totally devastated because of it's already "broken infrastructure." In a series of tweets, the president made sure to note that Puerto Rico owed mainland banks money, debts which would not be forgiven. 

Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble.....It's old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars.......owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with. Food, water and medical are top priorities - and doing well. #FEMA

Trump later said Hurricane Maria was not a "real catastrophe" like those that had hit the mainland United States. Per Rolling Stone

“If you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here with, really, a storm that was just totally overpowering — nobody has ever seen anything like this,” Trump said. “Sixteen versus literally thousands of people. You can be very proud. Everybody around this table and everybody watching can really be very proud of what’s taken place in Puerto Rico.”

Citizens of Puerto Rico have been advocating for statehood for years. According to the official statehood campaign website, PR51st

On November 6, 2012, Puerto Rico held a plebiscite in which a clear majority of voters rejected the Island’s current status as a United States territory and more than 61% chose statehood as the best alternative for their future. In June of 2017, 97% of voters chose statehood over the other status options.
On January 10, 2018, Puerto Rico’s seven-member bipartisan commissions demanded statehood in Washington, D.C.
Statehood is the only way to bring equal rights, opportunities, and responsibilities to Puerto Ricans, making the Island a full and permanent part of the Nation to which they already belong.
Few Puerto Ricans are satisfied with the conditions in the territory. Millions have voted with a boat or plane ticket for the better life that statehood offers. The unequal treatment of Puerto Rico under federal law violates the most basic principles of democracy and equality in the United States. And the fact that Puerto Ricans cannot vote for the president of the United States and do not have voting representation in Congress has deprived Puerto Rico economically and contradicted America’s democratic values.

Aníbal Acevedo-Vilá, former governor or Puerto Rico, argued in a June 2017 op-ed for The Hill that statehood would not solve the island's problems and in fact, could rob it of some of its cultural identity.

For economic, identity and cultural reasons, statehood is a bad proposition for both Puerto Rico and the United States, and Puerto Ricans know that. Congress also knows that. It is time to move on and look for a different mutually beneficial alternative to solve the colonial status of Puerto Rico.

Some in Puerto Rico believe statehood is inappropriate, favoring instead full sovereignty. In a June 2017 piece about the statehood vote, The Guardian interviewed Juan Collazo, a 22-year-old student at the time, no his feelings on the vote. 

Collazo is left unmoved by Sunday’s referendum on whether or not to become America’s 51st state, in which he has no intention of participating. He calls himself an “independista”, wanting full sovereignty for his country.
He believes the vote is worse than pointless, it is manipulative: “They are spending $8m holding this vote, and yet will the US Congress take any notice of it? No, they won’t. This is just another attempt to divide and conquer us.”

Yet with the devastation caused by the hurricanes and the need for federal aid, the situation has become more pressing. In a piece for The Nation, writer John Nichols explains that as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands try to rebuild from 2017's devastating hurricanes, they have no elected officials advocating on their behalf in Washington.

These islands will need to make big asks of federal officials in coming days, weeks, and months. Yet, unlike Texas (which is still recovering from Hurricane Harvey) and Florida (which on Sunday was hard hit by Irma), Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands do not have elected advocates in Washington.
...US territories have a combined population of more than 4.1 million Americans. Add to their total the population of the District of Columbia, which is allowed to vote in presidential elections but that is not allowed to choose voting members of the US House or the US Senate, and the number gets close to 5 million.
Almost 5 million people, and not one voting representative in Congress.
Compare that with Wyoming, which elects a voting member of the US House, and two voting members of the US Senate. Wyoming also casts three votes in the Electoral College. The state’s total population is roughly 560,000.
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