Puerto Rico Statehood

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Puerto Rico statehood is a proposal whereby the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico would become a state, with the rights in the United States Constitution guaranteed to it. This would give it voting power in the House of Representatives (currently it has none) and the right to elect two Senators.

Referendum results

As of 2017, Puerto Rico has voted five times on its future status.[1] In the last two referendums, in 2012 and 2017 respectively, the statehood option won by 61% in 2012, and in 2017 by 97%.[2] However, both conservative[3] and leftist critics claim that both referendums are invalid as they had many blank votes. Alaska and Hawaii were both admitted a state with only 13% and 34%, respectively, of citizens voting.

Arguments for and against

Proponents of Puerto Rican statehood argue that it would increase tourism and make the government a facilitator to develop the island, instead of being an obstacle.

Conservative and liberal attitudes

Historically, Republicans supported statehood for Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico statehood movement was created by Jose Celso Barbosa, who founded the Puerto Rican division of the Republican Party.[4] Leftists, including most Puerto Rican Democrats in the U.S. Congress, historically opposed statehood promote independence or free association instead. Some socialist pro-independence activists committed acts of left-wing terrorism, including a notable shooting inside the U.S. Capitol in 1954.[5]

More recently, both parties on the mainland have adopted similar positions with regard to statehood. Republicans figures such as Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush expressed support statehood for Puerto Rico.[6] Donald Trump, and Mike Pence have stated they support whatever decision the people of Puerto Rico choose, including statehood.[7][8] Meanwhile, the Democratic Party platform in 1940 supported statehood for Puerto Rico along with Alaska and Hawaii, and subsequent GOP and Democrat platforms have made similar statements on Puerto Rican statehood, supporting Puerto Rican self-determination and leaning toward statehood.

However, many conservatives on the mainland are critical of Puerto Rican statehood. Their reasoning is that as a state, it is expected to reliably elect Democrats to Congress and significantly shift the balance of power in the Senate to the Left.[9][3] Additionally, they point out the territory's large debt despite receiving $22 billion in federal subsidies.[2][9][3]