By Contributor on February 05, 2013

By Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero

Don’t expect Puerto Rico to become the 51st state this year.

For one thing, support for statehood among Puerto Ricans is not nearly as massive as the American media have suggested.

Back in November, Puerto Rico had a referendum on what kind of relationship the island nation should have with the United States.

On the referendum, voters were presented with two ballots. The first one contained a question: “Are you content with the current territorial political status?”

Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States since the Spanish-American War. Under international law, territory means no sovereignty. Puerto Rico belongs to, but is not a part of, the United States of America. Since 1917, Puerto Rico’s residents have been U.S. citizens subject to U.S. laws but have no representation in Congress, nor the right to vote for president.

Since 1952, Puerto Rico has been a Commonwealth of the United States. But don’t let that term fool you. Other than locals now being able to elect the governor, nothing has changed. Puerto Rico is still a territory.

The Popular Democratic Party (PPD), which upholds the current Commonwealth status, has won half of all general elections since 1968, including three of the last four since 2000. Not surprisingly, party members voted yes on that first ballot question about being content with their current status.

But the no vote won, with 54 percent.

For those who voted no, there was a second ballot that presented three status options: independence, statehood or “ELA soberano” — that third option being a loosely defined version of the current status, but with increased powers and autonomy.

Statehood got 61.1 percent of the vote, while “ELA soberano” got 33.3 percent and independence got 5.5 percent.

However, 470,000 people cast blank ballots and boycotted the process. Those blank ballots accounted for 26 percent of all ballots cast. If these voters are included in the tally, then support for statehood goes down to 44.6 percent.

Another obstacle to statehood is the U.S. Congress itself, which has to approve any statehood petition by majority vote, with the president signing the bill.

But with Congress divided, no effort to push Puerto Rican statehood through is likely to succeed. Republicans understand that Puerto Rico would be heavily Democratic, and they wouldn’t want to give the Democrats two more votes in the U.S. Senate.

So, is Puerto Rico headed toward statehood? Not even close.

Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero is a Puerto Rican author, journalist and environmental educator. He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

 

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Dear Partner, After the approval of the 33rd United Nations’ resolution by consensus on June 23, 2014 asking the United States (US) to immediately decolonize of Puerto Rico, we should work together to force the United States government to comply with it. The facts that the United States government has maintained Puerto Rico as its colony for 116 years, has had Oscar López Rivera in prison for 33 years for fighting for Puerto Rico decolonization, and has ignored 33 UN resolutions to decolonize Puerto Rico, confirm that the US government has no intentions of ever decolonizing Puerto Rico. Therefore, we need to form a tsunami of people to force the US to comply with the 33 resolutions. We should peacefully protest at least 3 times a year until we achieve our goal. The first one will be a march up to the US Courthouse in Puerto Rico on the Abolition of Slavery Day on March 22. The second will be another march in Puerto Rico on a day before the UN’s Puerto Rico decolonization hearing. The third one will be a protest in New York City on the same day the UN holds its Puerto Rico decolonization hearing. These 3 protests are indispensable, because those who have colonies don’t believe in justice for all. Sincerely, José M López Sierra Jlop28vislophis@gmail.com Comité Timón del Pueblo United Partners for the Decolonization of Puerto Rico www.TodosUnidosDescolonizarPR.blogspot.com

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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