Para ver este documento en español,
Puerto Rican Leaders Debate at University of Florida
by Zophia Rendon
Independent Florida Alligator (U. Florida)
February 25, 1999
©Copyright 1999 U-Wire. All Rights Reserved.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Will Puerto Rico ever be more than a U.S.
About 50 Hispanic students like Joseph Medina sought answers to
that question during a political debate Tuesday night in U. Florida's
Levin College of Law.
"I'm undecided, so I'm hoping they can convince me,"
Medina said before the debate that was part of Puerto Rican Awareness
Jose Ortiz Daliot of the Puerto Rican (Popular) Democratic Party
said Puerto Rico should remain a commonwealth because the people
have voted to support that in every election.
"Puerto Rico needs a government respectful of its people
and their mandates," said Daliot, a candidate for the commonwealth's
resident commissioner position.
Even if the people vote for statehood , it could take 100 years
for the United States to accept it into the union, said Daliot,
who attended the University of Puerto Rico .
Kenneth McClintock of the New Progressive Party said statehood
is the only option because the nation's founding fathers acquired
territories with the intention of eventually making them states.
As a state, Puerto Rico would have access to the funds necessary
for promoting trade and creating jobs. Then, the United States
would not view it as a "welfare state," said McClintock.
Manuel Rodriguez Orellana of the Independence Party said neither
commonwealth nor statehood are what Puerto Rico needs.
To get out from under its dependence on the United States, Puerto
Rico should be free, he said.
"Each of my colleagues says one thing here and another thing
in Puerto Rico ," said Orellana said. "They are trying
to get more food stamps for more dependence."
When Orellana was young, his American teachers in Puerto Rico
told him the United States was the best country.
"They would point to a map and say, 'See this dot? That's
you. See this big country? That's the United States. Where would
we be without the United States?'" he recalled for the audience.
Some Puerto Ricans want to be part of the United States because
they think American ideas are better, which leads to "cultural
genocide," Orellana said.