Puerto Rico: The Crisis and The Elections Few Know Of


By Scott Morgan

Over the weekend of June 11th a referendum was held in the US Territory of Puerto Rico. Not many people were aware of this due to the copious press coverage over the Parliamentary Elections in France.

This exercise in democracy prompted some outrage amongst the political left for its timing. The island is in the midst of a severe financial crisis. From an economic standpoint it faces massive bills with a shrinking source of revenue. Partly this is due to letting a series of tax incentives expire that were necessary to entice businesses to set up operations on the island.With this in mind, the opposition derided the idea of having this plebiscite.

So when an election is held there are choices on the ballot. The three options on the ballot were full-fledged independence, statehood or maintain the current status quo which more often than not ends up being the preferred option of the voters. But, in this case, the populist sentiment may have carried over yet again and may explain why the mainstream media barely mentioned it.

The choice of the electorate? They wanted statehood. This was said by a substantial number: 97% of them, as a matter of fact. But the detractors are quick to point out that only 23% of the registered voters actually went to make their desires known. A key factor in this was the boycott of the PPD (People’s Democratic Party) which is known for having the platform of maintaining the current status of a self-governing commonwealth within the United States.There is an often used quote that says “History is made by those show up.” - a very useful piece of knowledge at this time.

What happens next? The results of this referendum will be presented to the US Congress as the will of the long suffering people of Puerto Rico. They have practically always been occupied by Foreign Elements: first Spain and then the US after it won the Spanish-American War (having the island been ceded to the American under the terms of the Treaty of Paris). It is felt, in some circles, that Statehood would give the island better tools to address the economic ills that are plaguing Puerto Rico. Statehood is estimated to potential inject $10 Billion into the Economy plus other perks such as improved Social Security and Medicaid Benefits, the Right to vote in Presidential Elections and most importantly the ability for government agencies and municipalities to file for bankruptcy. Under the current arrangement this is currently prohibited.

Any time now the Legislature was expected to vote on a Bill that would allow the Governor to draft what would become a State Constitution as well as organizing elections to send Senators and Representatives to Washington to Represent the Island. Regardless of this it will be up to the Congress through use of the Territorial Clause of the US Constitution to determine whether or not Puerto Rico will become the 51st state in the Union.

On the surface it appears that Statehood has the potential to address some of the major economic problems Puerto Rico has. It should be given the chance to determine whether or not this is true.


[The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dissecting Society]

Comments

  1. The media is not interested in broadcasting this type of news cause it will inspire many countries to seek independence or statehood. I talk about Cataluña, Scottland, Corsica, Northern Ireland and others.

    ReplyDelete

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