Romero-Barceló, Carlos
September 1980
Foreign Affairs;Fall1980, Vol. 59 Issue 1, p60
The author argues that commonwealth is a myth and that the time has come for Puerto Rico to enter the union as the 51st state of the U.S. I am convinced, both as a Latin American and as a U.S. citizen, that statehood for Puerto Rico would constitute a boon for the nation, as well as for the island. In an era of worldwide decolonization, the myth of the Estado Libre Asociado served the interests both of the U.S. government and of the then dominant Popular Democratic Party in Puerto Rico. In 1952, we were told that a noncontiguous territory could never become a state, that an island far removed from the mainland could never become a state, that a predominantly Catholic, or predominantly non-Anglo, community could never become a state. The admission of Alaska and Hawaii and the election of President John F. Kennedy destroyed those arguments. President Gerald Ford broke the ice with his strong 1976 declaration in favor of Puerto Rico statehood. Statehood is the solution to our dilemma, and nationwide public opinion polls have revealed that two-thirds of the American people, are prepared to accept whatever political status the Puerto Rican people prefer, including statehood. Allegations to the contrary notwithstanding, however, the truth is that the socio-economic and political conditions which have spawned so much tragic bloodshed in Northern Ireland, the Basque region of Spain, and other places, simply do not exist in Puerto Rico. But Puerto Rico's role as America's gateway to better relations in Latin America and the Caribbean is by no means limited to emergency assistance by military personnel. As the most technologically and economically advanced community in the region, we can offer much in the areas of commercial, educational and technical interchange.


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