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Taking Puerto Rico Out Of Limbo... Identity Over Federal Taxes For Puerto Ricans

Taking Puerto Rico Out Of Limbo


Christian Science Monitor

December 23, 2003
Copyright © 2003
Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

Should Puerto Rico become the 51st state, remain a United States commonwealth, or become an independent nation?

That's the question put to yet another White House panel to study. Last week, President Bush named 16 new members to a task force first established by President Clinton in 2000 to explore the issue.

After 105 years of discussions over the future of the Caribbean island, it's time for a clear solution for Puerto Rico, which has long been in limbo. Although Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship in 1917, they enjoy many of its privileges but not all its responsibilities. Congress has never given Puerto Rico the chance to determine its own future.

As members of a US commonwealth, Puerto Ricans are subject to federal laws, can be drafted, but have only a nonvoting delegate to the US House of Representatives. And they cannot vote for president.

Statehood would mean they would have full US citizenship and full representation in Congress, and could vote for president. They also would be required to pay federal income tax. And that is at the heart of many Puerto Ricans' reluctance about statehood.

Recent polls among Puerto Rico's 3.9 million people (another 3.4 million live in the US) consistently show an even split between those who favor statehood and those who prefer the status quo. In nonbinding plebiscites in 1993 and 1998, voters chose to remain a commonwealth, although the vote was close. Independence remains the favorite option of only a few.

The latest task force, which holds its first meeting in January, should help pave a clear pathway for Congress to set up a neutral process so that Puerto Ricans can decide for themselves, once and for all, whether they're willing to become a state.

Identity Over Federal Taxes For Puerto Ricans

Regarding "Taking Puerto Rico Out of Limbo"

'Readers Write, Letters'

Christian Science Monitor

December 29, 2003
Copyright © 2003
Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

Regarding the Dec. 23 editorial "Taking Puerto Rico Out of Limbo": Being a state would mean Puerto Rico would be the poorest state in the nation, earning a per capita income almost half that of the current poorest state, Mississippi. In Latin America, however, Puerto Rico has one of the highest per capita incomes.

That isn't the reason that we don't want to pay taxes. Puerto Rico is uniquely Spanish. It would be the only Spanish state in the nation. We have our own Olympic teams, our own culture and heritage, but little by little that culture is getting washed away by a desire of the statehooders and American corporate heads to homogenize the island.

That is the main reason why Puerto Ricans are still opposed to being a state: loss of identity. Victor Rivera Tampa, Fla.

In your editorial you mentioned that Puerto Ricans cannot vote to elect the president of the United States. Puerto Ricans living in the US, such as I, do vote for president. As your editorial indicated, the island is not subject to federal taxes, hence legal residents of the island cannot vote for president or Congress. It goes to the issue of "no taxation without representation."

The bigger issue, however, is the status of Puerto Rico. I hope that Puerto Rico remains a commonwealth. Reality, however, tells me that its days as such are numbered. David Lopez Madison, Wis.

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