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Citizens' Educational Foundation, Inc.
June 22, 2000
Unfortunately, Richard Brookhiser is uninformed ("Unmanifest Destiny" -- What to do with Puerto Rico, 06/19/2000). Not only are those of us born in Puerto Rico American citizens by birth right, but we have been American citizens since 1917. In fact, Puerto Ricans are and have been American citizens for longer than any other territory without a decision by Congress of what their ultimate status should be.
Therefore, to ask "What is best for us?" can only be viewed in the larger context of what is best for all Americans, including the almost four million who live in Puerto Rico.
For comparative purposes, there are 25 states of the union where the number of American citizens that reside there is smaller than the number of American citizens who reside in Puerto Rico. The fact that this substantial number of American citizens is subject to all laws passed by Congress and yet have no voice or vote in that process is not just un-American, it is undemocratic.
How can we be the defenders of representative democracy in the world when a substantial number of American citizens are disenfranchised?
The suggestion that this second class status is acceptable is untrue.
In the 1998 plebiscite the current colonial "Commonwealth" status received less than one tenth of 1% of the vote. There is no consent of the governed to continue in this colonial relationship and Congress needs to step up to the plate and offer the American citizens living in Puerto Rico what it has offered the 37 previous territories: statehood or independence. Anything less is colonial and un-American.
Herbert W. Brown III