The Providence Sunday Journal


Puerto Rico vote


(Copyright 1997)

Given the cultural, political and economic differences between the commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the United States, and the way in which the island was handed over to America by Spain in 1898, occasional referenda on the island to determine the relationship between it and the mainland are only proper. We need one now.

Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens without full rights to participate in national elections. They can't vote for president and can't elect members of Congress; on the other hand, they don't pay federal income taxes. It's all part of the makeshift relationship that comes under the heading "commonwealth," and that needs to be clarified.

Congress next month will consider a proposal by Rep. Don Young,R-Alaska, to hold the first congressionally sanctioned plebiscite on the political status of Puerto Rico. In it, the islanders would be able to choose among statehood, independence or continuation as a commonwealth.

We have many doubts that Puerto Rico would fit in very well as the 51st state. But Puerto Ricans deserve the right to express their opinion and have it acted upon.

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