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Puerto Rico's Unjust Status -- Right To Vote Denied!

By Dennis O. Freytes

February 9, 2004
Copyright ©2004 PUERTO RICO HERALD. All rights reserved.

It is time to redress the politically unfair treatment of American Citizens living on the U.S. soil of Puerto Rico. These 2d Class American Citizens have been denied (for over 105 years)--the right to vote, and be rightly represented in their Federal Government. We must act within the great spirit of our precious Constitution to ensure that this unjust status is corrected soon!

The facts are that about 4 million U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico (a U.S. Territory since 1898), are unfairly shackled to a Territorial ("Colonial" type) political status. These American Citizens can't vote for the President, nor can they elect any Senators or Representatives to Congress! They have no democratic voting representation in Congress where their ultimate destiny is being debated, directed, and made!

For over 105 years, the U.S. Government has had absolute power over the 2d Class American Citizens living in Puerto Rico. It is vastly unfair that they don't have a right to vote for their Federal Government! Moreover, Congress has never sanctioned nor provided a just opportunity for these loyal U.S. Citizens to democratically vote to resolve this unjust political and governing situation.

Up to now, the President, Congress, and the U.S. Supreme Court have not stood up for the political rights of these Constitutionally under served American citizens! This runs counter to the highest fair democratic principles of our Nation. It is a disgrace for the United States to, although benevolently, undemocratically keep a Territorial "Colony" in this new millennium. The time for dominating empires has passed!

The time has come for the U.S. to unshackle Puerto Rico from this archaic "Colonial" status! Congress needs to pass a Bill that will let American Citizens, in Puerto Rico, decide their final Status by sanctioning a binding Vote on Statehood Vs Independence that will be respected and accepted as final. No excuses can be made for our Country to have 2d Class Citizens. America should continue to be a truly good shinning example to the World of a just constitutional democracy where all Citizens have the right to vote!

Furthermore, Puerto Rico has a population larger than about 25 of the Nation's States. (About 4 million reside on the U.S. Island, and another 4 million on the U.S. mainland.) Those on the U.S. Island, pay full Social Security and Medicare Taxes but don't get full Federal benefits. However, they don't pay Federal Taxes, but contribute to our Nation in many important ways.

Among other facts that justify Puerto Rico becoming a state (should it decide to do so), are: Puerto Rico loyally and greatly contributes to the U.S. Defense, Culture, and Economy. It has a readily available, skilled, educated, and mostly bilingual workforce of U.S. Citizens. Also, Puerto Rico offers an unrivaled market for U.S. goods and services. It has a buying power of more than $25 billion a year. Plus, it has made countless great contributions to our Country, as follows.

-Since 1898, Puerto Ricans' patriotic bravery, in fighting for our glorious American Flag, has been written with courageous blood in the best annals of American History. They have sacrificed, and valiantly fought in all American Wars and Conflicts since then. Puerto Rico, in doing its part to defend America, has sustained and is suffering more dead and casualties than the majority of the States in many conflicts or wars of freedom.

- General of the Armies Douglas MacArthur, in praising the 65th Infantry Regiment from Puerto Rico, said: ".the Puerto Ricans.of the gallant 65th Infantry on the battlefields of Korea by valor, determination and a resolute will to victory give daily testament to their invincible loyalty to the United States.They write a brilliant record of achievement in battle and I am proud indeed to have them in this command. I wish that we might have many more like them."

- Currently, over 45,000 Puerto Ricans serve on Active Duty or are on Reserve status in the U.S. Armed Forces (Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard). They are deployed worldwide to defend America. Besides, The U.S. Army's recruiting effort on the island is consistently the top in the Nation.

- Hundreds of thousands of American Veterans from Puerto Rico have bravely supported, died or bled for the American flag that symbolizes our Nation and its precious Constitution. Some have received the Medal of Honor, and many others-top battle awards. There is no doubt that these honorable Veterans have enormously sacrificed much for the good of the U.S. Yet, they can't vote for their President (Commander In Chief) nor the Federal Government to fairly represent them! This is not right!

- Furthermore, Puerto Rico has a strong democratic culture that is interwoven with the macro American Culture. The culture is founded on strong family values, democratic principles, a trust in god, and a willing to loyally sacrifice in defending our Nation, and the good people of the World. And like that of the other States, it has its own uniqueness with tolerant diversity.

- Additionally, Puerto Rico has a dynamic business community that is inextricably linked with and beneficial for the United States. According to some figures from the Commerce Department and other sources, Puerto Rico is the United States' eighth-largest trading partner and the world's fourth-largest purchaser of U.S. goods per capita. Puerto Rico buys more products from the mainland than many larger countries such as Italy, Russia or China. In 2001 alone, Puerto Rico purchased $16 billion worth of U.S. goods, fueling the creation and maintenance of over 275,000 U.S. mainland jobs.

- Puerto Rico has about 55 of the U.S. Fortune 100 companies operating on the Island. Also, more than 100 of the U.S. Fortune 500 multinationals operate there, generating more than $47 billion in exports in 2002. Besides, Twenty-five percent of all pharmaceutical products manufactured in the United States are shipped from Puerto Rico, and 16 of the country's top-20-selling prescription drugs are produced there.

- Puerto Rico is the fifth largest Exporter in the entire hemisphere after the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil.

- Besides, Florida is Puerto Rico's No. 1 trading partner, ranking as the largest consumer of Puerto Rico's exports. It's also the No. 1 destination for Florida's exports.

The American citizens, living on the U.S. soil of Puerto Rico, have vastly proven their stalwart loyalty and have contributed immensely to our Nation. They have long ago earned the full rights, benefits, and responsibilities of being full U.S. Citizens. They should be given a fair opportunity to change a bad status!

Let a true Democracy prevail! After 105 years, the time has come to do what is right!

The President and Congress need to act now and authorize a binding vote that will remove the Territorial "Colonial" status of Puerto Rico. If not, the U.S. Supreme Court should act to ensure that these under represented 2d Class U.S. Citizens be allowed to vote and be properly represented in their Federal Government. We most achieve total equality under our noble U.S. Constitution, no excuses accepted.

Unshackle Puerto Rico!

Lt. Colonel (Ret.) Dennis O. Freytes is a Trustee of Valencia Community College

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