Puerto Rican Statehood

jose-aponte-hernandez Jun 12, 2017

First, I don’t care about the statehood status of Puerto Rico. However, I do find it interesting that no one ever mentions Guam.

In The Hill Jose Aponte-Hernandez wrote my favorite article ever. The lack of context is fantastic!

Here’s the opening:

The United States citizens of Puerto Rico have spoken, loud and clear. We want statehood and we wanted it now. This past Sunday, Puerto Ricans went to the polls in an historic status referendum in which the people decided to end more than a century of colonial rule by joining the union as its fifty-first state.

In a resounding fashion, almost 98 percent of the voters cast their ballots for statehood. In all, 512,000 U.S. citizens voted for the admission of the Island, a U.S. territory since the end of the Spanish-American War of 1898.

98%? That’s incredible. Almost… too incredible. Even worse, here’s the historical performance of statehood votes:

Year Votes for statehood Total votes (w/o invalid/blank)
1967 274,312 703,692
1993 788,296 1,690,242
1998 728,157 1,561,424
2012 834,191 1,363,854
2017 502,616 517,216

In 2012 there were 500,000 blank or invalid votes. Perhaps due to the world ending that December? But, seriously, those numbers are crazy. This is at least 225,000 votes fewer for statehood than any of the last 3 referenda.

But, why? There’s been a lot of chatter of an election boycott. That’s one hell of an effective boycott. That’s dictator level results.

Interestingly enough, there were observers to watch the election. According to El Nuevo Día:

Since Friday, a delegation of 16 national and international observers evaluates the voting process of the status consultation
. . .
Once this process is over, observers will return to the State Elections Commission to observe the process of vote counting of the consultation promoted by the New Progressive Party (NPP).
. . .
The Popular Democratic Party, the Puerto Rican Independence Party and other political organizations asked their supporters not to participate in the referendum, because they do not share the alternatives included in the ballot paper, they understand that the process was designed to favor the NPP and considered that it means an unnecessary issue of public funds in times of economic crisis.

Also notable, the Emert Group was reimbursed:

El Departamento de Estado reembolsará ciertos gastos incurridos por la delegación de observadores que participaron ayer durante la consulta de status, confirmó hoy el secretario Luis Rivera Marín
The State Department will reimburse certain expenses incurred by the delegation of observers that participated yesterday during the status consultation, today, confirmed the Secretary Luis Rivera Marín.

Remember, the government of Puerto Rico is in pretty bad financial condition. Fortunately, they found the money for this vote.

Something about this whole thing just feels wrong. Hopefully I’m wrong, but, this just doesn’t seem clean. Perhaps I’m being too skeptical. It doesn’t matter, the results are in. And, it will be referred to Congress.

If you want to read more The New Day has an article (in Spanish, archive) about the boycott. And, another (archive) with comments from two former governors.