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Statehood a viable idea for Puerto Rico?


opinionby Hector Lopez, Green Party of Connecticut

My name is Hector Lopez. I was born and raised in Ponce, Puerto Rico, until my family immigrated to the United States when I was fourteen. My father and three uncles survived the Ponce massacre, one of a series of repressive measures perpetrated by United States appointed governors. I currently reside in the state of Connecticut with my family.

Hector Lopez

Hector Lopez

Puerto Rico’s struggle for liberty dates back to the uprisings of its Native Americans, the revolts by the African slaves forced to work on the island, and the revolution of 1868 to free itself from Spanish colonialism. Dr. Ramon Emeterio Betances led the uprising. Let us not forget the uprising in Jayuya Puerto Rico in October 1950, the attack on Blair House, the assault on the U.S. Congress in 1954, the student strikes during the Fifties and subsequent decades up to now, and the struggle for Vieques against the U.S. Navy. This historical process inflames our hearts and passions for our hallowed land.

Puerto Ricoís case is not one of civil rights; it is one of national rights. To vote for the U.S. president is to deny our right to self-determination and independence. England applied the Sea Acts to the Thirteen Colonies and the U.S. applies the laws of ìcabotageî to Puerto Rico.

In 1897, Spain granted Puerto Rico the ìCharter of Autonomy,î which gave the Puerto Ricans almost all the attributes of an independent nation. In 1898, during the Spanish-U.S. War, Puerto Rico was invaded by the United States. The U.S. navy bombed San Juan the capital, unnecessarily killing one hundred persons. The U.S. is still committing atrocities today, killing our patriots. As an outcome of the war in 1898, Spain ceded Puerto Rico, along with Cuba, the Philippines, and Guam to the U.S. under the Treaty of Paris.

The Puerto Rican People did not participate in the negotiations of the Treaty of Paris that ìgrantedî Puerto Rico to the United States. †The United States and Spain violated international laws, and today the U.S. is still occupying Puerto Rico illegally. ìThe invasion of Puerto Rico was an act of international piracy,î said Pedro Albizu Campos, the Nationalist Party leader. After the occupation in 1917, by fiat, second-class citizenship was imposed on the citizens of Puerto Rico against their will through the Jones Act.

Claridad, the pro-independence newspaper, said ìThe United States Government states that it can cede or sell Puerto Rico at any time to any nation or any other party with wildlife and every thing in it (we are the wildlife).î

On June 9, 2008 at the U.N., the Governor of Puerto Rico declared it was a ìfraud on the Puerto Rican people.î On that same day, the U.N. called upon the United States to expedite self-determination and independence for the Puerto Rican People. They stated that exporting the U.S. electoral primaries to an enslaved country such as Puerto Rico is a gross violation of its dignity and national sovereignty.

Michael Janeway reported in his article ìPuerto Ricoís Moment in the Sunî (NY Times, May 22, 2008) that ìLuis Munoz Marin was an eloquent advocate of independence,î but what he does not know is that Munoz did not have the moral fiber and the courage to stand up to the threats of the U.S. Government, and if he kept preaching about independence he would be arrested and incarcerated. Contrary to Munoz, Campos stood up as a real patriot and defied the empire. Today he stands as our national conscience. Munoz is our Benedict Arnold.

Puerto Ricoís case is not one of civil rights; it is one of national rights.

Any researcher who investigates colonialism will realize that socio-economic and political oppression can make a people afraid of being free. The ìStockholm syndromeî takes hold and the colonized begin to identify with the kidnapper by voting for statehood and identifying as members of the oppressive colonizer. They become denationalized and un-Puerto Rican in spirit, thereby becoming agents of colonial occupation.

On June 29, 2008, CBS reported that 100 million U.S. citizens have no dental care, besides the 47 million who have no medical care either. The corporations are leading the United States down a path of warmongering and destruction of other nations and the planet. Why should we follow that path? One cannot forget Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which show openly what statehood would be like for Puerto Rico. All of the above is proof that statehood means our annihilation physically and culturally.

Puerto Rico has its own culture, beliefs and traditions. It is completely capable of governing itself. Is the United States governing itself correctly? The United States government has no jurisdiction in Puerto Rico. Instead, it imposes its laws by the force of arms.

Let my people go! Freedom now!


  1. Richa February 26, 2009

    In the earlier part of the 20th century there was considerable support within Puerto Rico for independence. Many dedicated and often enough gave their lives seeking independence. Yet later in the same century and right up to today there has been relatively little such support.
    While i agree that Puerto Rico should have its independence, getting there will require a different approach – a nonviolent, spiritual approach both on the island and in the USA. Even political independence will not mean a lot without economic independence, and that will not come as long as we in the USA continue to allow the present economic colonialism.

  2. ulysses February 27, 2009

    Please, most people from Puerto Rico want to becomce a state. not because they are affraid. They see what it is like here on the Mainland and would love to see their Isand grow as well. More Puerto Ricians live in New York then on the Island. Free your people then vote to become a state.

  3. Chuck S. Richards February 27, 2009

    I thank Hector Lopez for bringing the issue of Puerto Rican independence to the readers of Green Pages. I taught in a community college on the island for three years, and value my freindships and political education during my stay.
    Mr. Lopez’ point about popular votes against independence being based on fear of the unknown is important to comprehend. It is an artful stance to be in solidarity for Puerto Rican independence, and yet allow the Puerto Ricans the right to work out their own destiny.
    I would propose that progressive forces in the U.S. should work toward a political consensus that NONE of our ‘occupied territories’ are candidates for statehood, but that the people of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Marianas have the right to neotiate their political status with Congress as each sees fit. “The Union is closed to further imperial expansion.”

  4. Gloria E. Lopez-LMSW May 14, 2009

    My brother I am so proud of you for your dedication and hard work in the struggle to bring about the independance to our beautiful Island Puerto Rico. You are a true patriot.

    Your sister Gloria

  5. Luis Philadelphia July 8, 2009

    You have to laugh at the hipocrisy of this man. Why is he still living on the mainland with his family if such atrocities were committed against his beloved PR. The US is good enough for him and his family to live out the rest of their lives and excercise his full citizenship rights but it isnt good enough for the citizens in PR. Please move back to PR so you can gain some credability. LOL Funny man.

  6. 51st STATE August 15, 2009

    “The Puerto Ricans forming the ranks of the gallant 65th Infantry on yhe battlefields of Korea…are writing a brilliant record of achievement in battle and I am proud indeed to have them in this command.I wish that we might have many more like them.”
    General Douglas MacArthur
    February 12,1951

    The U.S. Army’s 65th Infantry Division of Puerto Rico in Korea:

    – 10 Distinguished Service Crosses
    – 256 Silver Stars
    – 595 Bronze Stars
    – 1,014 Purple Hearts

    Puerto Ricans served bravely in numerous wars.

    * 18,000+ WW1
    * 65,000+ WW2
    * 61,000+ Korea
    * 48,000+ Vietnam

    Puerto Ricans awarded Medal of Honor:

    * PFC. Fernando Garcia,USMC-Korea
    * PFC. Carlos Lozada,USA-Vietnam
    * Cpt. Euripides Rubio,USA-Vietnam
    * Spc 4th Class Hector Santiago-Colon,USA-Vietnam
    * Cpt. Humbert Roque Versace,USA-Vietnam


  7. Puerto Rico=51st STATE August 15, 2009

    (R)Gerald Ford-“I believe that the appropriate status for Puerto Rico is statehood.I propose,therefore,that the people of Puerto Rico and the Congress of the United States begin now to take those steps which will result in statehood for Puerto Rico.I will recommend to the 95th Congress the enactment of legislation.”

    (D)Jimmy Carter-“My administration will respect the wishes of the people of Puerto Rico and your right to self-determination.”

    (R)Ronald Reagan-“I favor statehood for Puerto Rico and if the people of Puerto Rico vote for statehood in their coming referendum I would, as President,initiate
    the enabling legislation to make this a reality.”

    “Puerto Ricans have borne the responsibilities of U.S. citizenship with
    honor and courage…its strong tradition of democracy provides leadership and stability in that region.”

    (R)George H.W.Bush-“As long as Puerto Rico is a territory,the will of its people regarding their political status should be ascertained periodically by means of a general right of referendum.”

    “Status as a territory was never intended to be permanent,either historically or constitutionally.It was a temporary transitional condition leading to statehood.”

    (D)Bill Clinton-“It is our policy…to work with leaders of the Commonwealth and the Congress to clarify the options to enable Puerto Ricans to determine their preference among options for the island’s future status that are not incompatible with the Constitution and basic laws and policies of the United States;and to implement such an option if chosen by a majority.”

    (R)George W. Bush-“I don’t care about politics.I care about what is right.For Puerto Rico to be a state would be good.”

    (D)Barack Obama-“I understand and respect the aspiration of the U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico who,like you,believe that statehood is the best status option for Puerto Rico,as I understand and respect the aspirations of those who favor other status options for Puerto Rico.”


  8. Peter December 29, 2009

    An independent PR = another Haiti/Dominican Republic. People will be fleeing in boats trying to escape poverty and all in the name of independence. There is no way that PR will be able to support itself as an independent nation let alone feed the 4M people living in the island. I’m sorry Hector, but you seem to be out of touch with reality. If the people of PR really wanted to be independent they would have at the very least voted to be one by now but apparently over 97% of puerto ricans dont want to.

  9. Antillano February 20, 2010

    I appreciate your interest in advocating the independence of PR, I am also an advocate for the independence. Hence my name, however when I speak about Independence of PR I take to a different route. Lets point out things that no too many focus on, the fact is that it cost the average american tax payers billion of dollars per year to support the “commonwealth” status of Puerto Rico. Lets not forget that tax payers also has a say in it. Also when you someone who supports statehood

    Statehooder supporters compares Puerto Rico to other Latin countries, and how PR it has a better economy, etc. The truth is that Puerto Rico cannot be compare to other countries because technically its part of the US, to compare PR to other countries is like comparing Long Island, NY to Russia or another country, the fact that they need to compare PR to other US territories, and PR is one of the most poorest Territories in the US. Poorer then Mississippi, and Richer then American Samoa.

    Another fact, is that if people in PR want to become 51st state, then they should also include Guam, American Samoa, Marina Islands, and US Virgin Islands. Those are other territories part of US, who just as PR also has the right to be part of US. Imagine how much would that cost US to bring other territories as states. Not favorable if the average american is educated on this topic. I can go on and on and make good debate how becoming a state is very costly.

  10. E. ROCK ROQUE February 26, 2010

    I was born in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico quite a few years ago and have followed the issue of Statehood & Independence with a great deal of interest. Whether we like it or not, reality is that the island is forever changed and cannot sustain itself as an independent nation.
    Blessed are we however, to now live under the American Flag, which I love. The island of Puerto Rico is within my soul, but by the grace of God, I was born an American in 1945.
    Indeed, God bless America, land that I love…

  11. Thomas P. Cruz August 6, 2010

    I lived in the U.S. territory of Guam. Guam is located in the far Western Pacific.

    Like Puerto Rico, we were annexed to the United States as a result of the Spanish-American War.

    And like Puerto Rico, we are today a territory and not a state.

    And like Puerto Rico, much of our culture was influenced by Spain. We in Guam are generally not classified as “Latinos” or “Hispanics” but instead “Pacific Islanders,” and often they even put Asians and Pacific Islanders into the same group — “Asian/Pacific Islanders” — by people in the U.S. But our culture and even our physical appearance is similar to Latinos and Hispanics. Whenever us Guam natives — called “Chamorros” — are in the states people almost always think we are Latinos/Hispanics.

    I would like to see Guam become a state. That is what I want. Overall, the vast majority of the people of Guam are happy with the status quo — territory. Next is statehood. Hardly anyone here wants independence. I don’t know anyone who wants Guam to become its own nation.

    Us U.S. territories need to support eachother regarding our respective political status futures!

    God bless Guam!

    God bless Puerto Rico!

    God bless the U.S. territories!

  12. Juan bobo July 28, 2012

    The reason PR is not a state is that it is a small country strategically situated in the Caribbean to watch over Central and South America. It serves as a human testing ground for pharmaceutical companies before certain drugs are mass marketed. It’s cheaper to keep the island dependent than to cultivate its natural resources, that are rapidly dwindling via pollution and overpopulation (fishing, agriculture, tourism)and an educational system that is inherently deficient.The work ethic of 60 years ago is basically non-existent PLUS, now that Spanish is the official language (declared in the 80’s), the US has more of a control problem than before. Not to worry, with food stamps,ignorance,an ingrained rampant “Stockholm Syndrome” and a willingness to lay down their lives for their overlords on the mainland, why bother! If PR could have been part of a Caribbean nation composed of Cuba and Santo Domingo, they might have had a chance for real self determination and progress…now, not a chance. Not only has the spirit been raped, it has been tortured and ultimately murdered! RIP Puerto Rico, la isla del encanto…ya que no puede cantar mas que boberia!

  13. Hector Lopez September 18, 2012

    I don’t care for all the arrogant comments, Puerto Rico is entitled to its freedom. What is wrong with wanting what the 13 colonies got in 1776?


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