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The Unfinished History Of Puerto Rico Solve The Colonial Dilemma To Gain The Puerto Rican Vote
The Unfinished History of Puerto Rico
March 1, 2004
El Diario/La Prensa:
It was 50 years ago today that four Puerto Rican Nationalists opened fire in the U.S. Congress, wounding five U.S. representatives in the name of independence for the Caribbean island that has been a U.S. territory since 1898. Through the years the nationalists have been labeled both heroes and terrorists. And the political status of the island of Puerto Rico remains unresolved.
Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens but do not have a voting representative in Congress and do not vote for president. Puerto Rico is an Estado Libre Asociado, a territory of the U.S. with very limited self-rule. The sad joke among Puerto Ricans is that the designation is a grave misnomer: Puerto Rico is not a state and it`s not free. In English it`s called a commonwealth, a status most Americans don`t understand.
The Nationalists made their move on the Congress after decades of persecution against the movement and its leader, Pedro Albizu Campos. La Ley de La Mordaza was in full force on the island in the 1950s. The law banned violent opposition to the U.S. occupation but was used to harass and imprison thousands of Nationalists and their supporters. Flying the Puerto Rican flag was considered an act of treason.
It is for that reason that Nationalist Lolita Lebron unfurled the Puerto Rican flag from the visitor`s gallery of the House of Representatives before the group opened fire on that March day in 1954.
While most Puerto Ricans don`t agree with the violence of 50 years ago, they support the principles the Nationalists fought for. Even today, it is outrageous that we continue to tolerate a situation where more than 3.5 million U.S. citizens -Puerto Ricans living on the island - cannot vote for president and have no say in federal matters that affect them.
This anniversary gives the United States and Puerto Rico the opportunity to engage in serious discussions about the political realities of an island whose peculiar status should be intolerable for any fair-minded American.
Solve The Colonial Dilemma To Gain The Puerto Rican Vote
April 16, 2004
In his April 7 Other Views column, Puerto Ricans need a way out of limbo, Herbert W. Brown writes about the bizarre contradictions juggled for 106 years because of our nation's unresolved colonial relationship with Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico's exclusion from federal representation should disqualify the United States from pressuring other countries on civil rights. We can't promote democratic practices when we have a population of U.S. citizens larger than 25 states that is subjugated to a nonrepresentative government. According to immigration experts, Puerto Ricans living on the mainland will outnumber the 3.6 million living on the island as soon as this summer. Florida has the nation's second largest enclave of Puerto Ricans with more than 600,000 residents evenly scattered between South and Central Florida.
The political posturing of national and island figures is becoming confusing as they squabble over politically unaffiliated Puerto Ricans in the Florida battlefield. Some 40 congressional Democrats recently announced support for the island's pro-colonial party gubernatorial candidate in Puerto Rico's November elections. They justified their choice by saying that he was a ''true Democrat.'' Though the opposing candidate also is a Democrat, he had picked a Republican for Resident Commissioner -- Puerto Rico's nonvoting delegate in Congress.
Conversely, the island's Republican Party leaders are said to be plotting their strategy to help President Bush by targeting Puerto Ricans in Florida to do what those on the island cannot: vote for president.
Seldom have I seen ''Made in Puerto Rico'' signs. The U.S. history chapter that deals with Puerto Rico was clearly ''Made in the USA'' in 1898. It needs closure. The ''territory of Porto Rico'' needs a fully binding, self-determination process to get out of its unacceptable colonial quagmire. As it is, those of us in the United States have our hands full trying to figure out the agendas of our ''true'' Democrats and Republicans.