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

You can read more pieces from The Progressive Media Project by clicking here.



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 Comité Timón del Pueblo United Partners for the Decolonization of Puerto Rico
Dear Partner, Who’s the radical, Oscar López Rivera or the US? There are some who call for keeping Puerto Rico political prisoner Oscar López Rivera in prison forever, because he is a radical terrorist responsible for the killing and injury people. That’s not true, but even if it were, he would still be not guilty. Is Oscar really the radical? It was the government of the United States (US) that illegally invaded Oscar’s country 116 years ago to make Puerto Rico a colony. The United States government has used everything it could think of to train Puerto Ricans to want to be a colony of the United States for over a century. Through its educational system and mass media it has tried to shape the minds of Puerto Ricans. And when that hasn’t been enough, it has resorted to state terrorism to repress those who want independence for Puerto Rico. All nations have an inalienable right to self-determination and independence according to international law. That is so, because it is a natural thing for a nation to want to be independent. That’s why most nations are. So, Oscar is doing what is natural of wanting his nation to be independent. The US government, however, is doing the unnatural or radical thing of trying to prevent Puerto Rico independence. What the US government is doing is so radical that it is committing a crime against humanity. The United Nations declared it so, because colonialism is a threat to world peace. So by the US government having Puerto Rico as its colony, it is creating the conditions for people like Oscar to resort to any means necessary to obtain decolonization. International law also give colonies the right to use any means necessary to decolonize itself. And that why colonialism is a crime. This is why, after 33 UN resolutions ignored by the US government asking it to immediately decolonize Puerto Rico, and the US government’s refusal to release Oscar from prison despite tremendous world pressure to do so, we must continuously protest until it happens! Sincerely, José
Not true that there are 3 political status options for Puerto Rico The United States (US) government has made Puerto Ricans believe that there are 3 political status options for Puerto Rico. That is a lie. The purpose for that is to have Puerto Ricans fight amongst themselves. The plan has been a huge success! Puerto Rico has been a colony of the United States for 116 years, and judging by the 80% voter turnout in the colonial elections, the majority of us has not realized that we have been lied to. In reality, there is only one option. The United Nations (UN) in 1960 determined that colonialism is a crime against humanity. Therefore, the only thing that Puerto Rico can do is to become her own nation. That means that the US must give Puerto Rico the sovereignty that the US illegally took away from her by virtue of the July 25, 1898 military invasion. Thus far, the US government has ignored the 33 UN resolutions asking it to immediately decolonize Puerto Rico. Instead, it has tried to hide these petitions, and at the same time appear to believe in democracy by pushing for plebiscites so that Puerto Ricans could decide between colonialism, being a US state, or independence (decolonization as required by the UN). The problem with the US pushed plebiscites are that they: 1. don’t comply with international law that prohibits a nation to have a colony. 2. don’t comply with international law that requires the empire to give the sovereignty it illegally took away to its colony. 3. don’t comply with international law that requires that to have free elections, that country must be free first. 4. have 2 options that are not permitted by international law- continuing being a colony and becoming a state of the country that has the colony. For the option of becoming a state of the country that has the colony to be considered, the colony must first become her own nation (decolonized). This is why we have to peacefully protest 3 times a year until the US government complies with the UN resolutions for Puerto Rico decolonization. José M López Sierra

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The beauty and the tragedy of everyday life in a war zone.

Maybe I should only be shocked that I wasn’t shocked a long time ago.

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).

Public School Shakedown

Progressive Media Project