Puerto Rico Becoming a state is the best

Puerto Rico is divided over whether it should become a state, retain its status as a territory or become independent.
Photo by Ava Traill.

Many people of Hispanic descent who move to the United States struggle never feeling “American” enough. Puerto Ricans may recognize this sentiment too, but the island has still been part of the US in some sense since 1898. But without being a state, PR remains isolated and never fully equal.

The beautiful Caribbean island of Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States since the Treaty of Paris, when the US won the Spanish-American War. Guam and Puerto Rico are the only territories still under US control after this agreement.

As a territory, Puerto Ricans are considered U.S. citizens. However, they do not have all the rights that someone living in a state would have, such as voting in presidential elections.

The elections of local political figures in PR are entirely in the hands of the Puerto Rican people, but this middle position between independence and statehood creates some challenges when it comes to the economy, health care, voting rights, and the procedures of the legal systems.

For decades, the debate over whether PR should become a state, remain a territory, or become independent has been a heated topic among Puerto Ricans.

“Even my own family is torn,” said Hector Alberty, student activities specialist at DSC. “They like their independence, but then I have the other side of my family that wants the state.”

Six different referendum votes have been held to see what the people of Puerto Rico want, and the last two were in favor of statehood. However, Congress is not obliged to adhere to the outcome of the polls.

As things stand, the current state of the island is not ideal. Crime rates are high, the economy is stagnant and due to constant natural disasters, the island is always in a state of rebuilding and recovery through trials.

While many disagree on the best course of action, I see no option for Puerto Rico to become independent. The culture on the island is already so Americanized, with the main spoken languages ​​being Spanish and English. There would be no point in parting with the US after all this time.

I am proud of my indigenous Taino ancestry, but it would be foolish to ignore the Spaniards’ hundreds of years of African slave trade, which allowed for the deep integration of African culture into Puerto Rican culture.

Puerto Rico’s culture is unique because of its distinct mix of indigenous Taino, African, and Spanish heritage.
Photo by Ava Traill.

In addition, the people of the island are so connected to American cuisine, culture and lifestyle. A divorce would be as strange as the Florida Keys becoming an independent nation.

Those opposed to independence would likely move to the US, specifically Florida, and given how much Florida’s population has already increased in recent years, this would be devastating to our economy.

That said, I think joining the US as a state would do a lot of good for the Puerto Rican people.

In addition to gaining voting rights, they would also be able to enforce all U.S. federal laws on the island, which would hopefully help reduce crime rates. This could also help improve the healthcare available on the island and the financial support received for natural disasters.

Of course, the existence of a state would not be a magical solution to every problem on the island, but this could be a first step towards equality and a chance for stability for the Puerto Rican people.

As a Puerto Rican, I understand wanting individuality and being proud of my island. But I would never let my pride get in the way of something that could improve the lives of everyone in Puerto Rico.