Status Quo in Puerto Rico
December 16, 1998
©Copyright 1998. Boston Herald
Last Sunday's referendum in Puerto Rico revealed no basic change
in a divided public opinion on statehood , no matter how Gov.
Pedro J. Rossello tries to spin it.
The governor argues that statehood , with 46.5 percent of the
vote, was the winning option since that percentage was far more
than anything racked up by the other definite alternatives: independence,
the status quo or a form of independence linked by treaties to
the United States.
But the main supporter of the status quo, the Popular Democratic
Party, campaigned for "None of the above" since it didn't
like the way the governor's New Progressive Party had drafted
the questions. That made "None of the above" with 50.2
percent a clear mandate for continuing on the present course.
We continue to oppose statehood . The Union would be strained
with its by-far poorest member overwhemingly speaking another
language, as would be the case if Puerto Rico were admitted. Either
the present "commonwealth" or independence (favored
by a declining share of voters, now only one in 40) is preferable.
But Puerto Ricans have been American citizens for so long, and
their connections with the mainland so close, statehood ought
not to be refused if a large majority votes for it.
Congress has neglected the issue for too long. It should pass
a law providing for a vote by the islanders on their status at
regular but spacious intervals, with statehood a possibility only
if a substantial majority, not just 50.1 percent or a mere plurality,