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Puerto Rico Deserves a Choice


November 8, 1998

Despite substantial bipartisan support for legislation allowing Puerto Ricans to choose between statehood or their current commonwealth status, the Senate this year killed the movement.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said lawmakers did not have enough time to debate the bill that would have allowed such a vote.

In reality, Lott and his cohorts are more concerned about partisanship; they fear new Democratic representation in Congress; than allowing the 3.8 million people of Puerto Rico self-determination.

And some in Congress are resistant to the idea of a Spanish-speaking state.

But it is only fair to let Puerto Ricans decide.

Puerto Ricans will vote in a Dec. 13 non-binding plebiscite to voice their opinions on the issue.

The island, which the United States gained 100 years ago in the Spanish-American War, became a U.S. commonwealth in 1952.

Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens subject to federal laws, but they lack congressional representation. They get some federal benefits, yet they don't
pay U.S. income taxes.

The United States would gain an estimated $2 billion a year in revenue if Puerto Rico became a state.

But regardless of economic and political considerations on the mainland, the island's residents deserve self-determination.

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