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'The Tampa Tribune

Statehood or Status Quo?

November 26, 2002
Copyright © 2002 The Tampa Tribune. All rights reserved. 

Puerto Rico's Status Quo

Regarding " Puerto Rico 's "Private Ryan' " (Commentary, Nov. 24):

Kenneth McClintock tried to make the case that the "U.S. government's blatant disregard" for Puerto Rico is responsible for the fact that a young Marine and native Puerto Rican , killed in Kuwait while nobly fighting the war on terror, would not have been permitted to cast a ballot for his commander in chief had he and his family not left their homeland to live in Tampa. As a senior elected official of the government of Puerto Rico , McClintock ought to know better.

Since 1967, the people of Puerto Rico have had three opportunities to secure for themselves the full blessings and responsibilities of citizenship of this great nation, and three times they have voted for the status quo. In each election, the pro- statehood vote was never higher than 46 percent. In fact, in the most recent plebiscite in 1998, 50.3 percent voted in favor of remaining a commonwealth, up from 48 percent in the 1993 election, indicating that a growing majority of Puerto Ricans prefer no change in their relationship with the United States.

While Lance Cpl. Antonio Sledd was undoubtedly a loyal and patriotic American, there is and historically has been a strong Puerto Rican nationalist movement that has manifested itself with an attempted assassination of President Truman in 1950, an armed assault on Congress in 1954, numerous bombings in New York in the '70s and, most recently, violent protests against the use of the island of Vieques for training by the U.S. Navy.

McClintock asserts, "the time to allow Puerto Rico to decide its future has come." If this is true, then Puerto Rico should conduct one final, binding plebiscite - with the only choice being between statehood and full independence.



A Divisive Issue

Regarding " Puerto Rico 's "Private Ryan' " (Commentary, Nov. 24):

This letter is about the inappropriate timing of the commentary and its lack of balance. It's not about being for or against statehood. I'm from the "island" and served 14 years on active duty, and I'm in my seventh year in the Reserves.

Your Sunday Commentary piece did a disservice to Puerto Ricans . First, I object to the headline. Second, the political commentary complained about Puerto Ricans serving in the military not being able to vote for the commander in chief. The Tampa Tribune presented only one side of the issue.

We do not vote in presidential elections because Puerto Rico is not a state of the United States. Furthermore, statehood in Puerto Rico has been defeated in several plebiscites. Sure, many residents of Puerto Rico would like to vote for our president and commander in chief. But the "island" is sharply divided on the issue of statehood.

Military personnel with residence in Puerto Rico are not complaining about not being able to vote. Kenneth McClintock is a politician using the sad death of a U.S. Marine, who happens to be Puerto Rican , to advocate statehood. The Tribune perhaps wrongly assumed that all Puerto Ricans share the politician's point of view.



Minority's View

Kenneth McClintock is the minority leader in the Puerto Rican Senate. His party, the New Progressive Party, supports statehood for Puerto Rico - and it is in the minority. Minority, as in, not the majority.

Puerto Rico has had several status plebiscites during the last 40 years. Statehood has never won a majority. Never. The only times McClintock's party has won the governorship is when it has promised not to make statehood an issue or when the usual-majority Popular Democratic Party has had internal squabbles.

Regarding a comparison of Puerto Rico 's treatment by the United States to the U.S. colonies' treatment by the British - and the eventual result, revolution - I don't think McClintock really wants to go down that road, does he?

Finally, with regard to "allow[ing] Puerto Rico to decide its future," the minority leader surely isn't suggesting that Puerto Ricans are being held in a political status against their will, as they are in, say, Tibet? Not a very nice thing to say about a country you want to become a part of.



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