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Many Puerto Ricans Support Statehood
by Kenneth D. McClintock; Senate of Puerto Rico
September 28, 2002
Richmond's Maggie L. Walker Governor's School for Government and International Studies is to be commended for mounting an informative celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. My only regret is that the Puerto Rico portion of its program offered attendees a misleadingly narrow perspective on our territory's political situation.
Throughout the middle decades of the 20th Century, Walker guest speaker Anibal Acevedo Vila's pro-commonwealth party consistently dominated Puerto Rico 's quadrennial elections. In three- way races it frequently polled as much as two- thirds of the total vote. Since 1968, however, a party advocating U.S. statehood has won five of nine gubernatorial elections and nearly captured a sixth in 2000. Moreover, two referenda on political status were conducted during the 1990s, and on both occasions the territorial status called "commonwealth" failed to obtain majority support.
Non-voting congressional delegate Acevedo Vila is therefore whistling in the dark when he tells audiences how "happy" Puerto Ricans are with a political status that categorically denies us the opportunity to participate in national affairs on a par with our fellow American citizens in the 50 states. The gentleman conveniently neglected to mention that a large and growing segment of our electorate patriotically rejects second-class U.S. citizenship and aspires to the equality of rights and responsibilities that is attainable solely via statehood .
Brave sons and daughters of the Commonwealth of Virginia stood at the forefront of a triumphant 18th-Century quest to eradicate colonialism. We, the people of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , shall be inspired by Virginia's example as we strive to do the same at the outset of this 21st Century.