3:00pm April 20, 2012

Rubio’s “50% plus one” for Puerto Rican Statehood


Breaking ranks with his party’s presumptive nominee, Florida Senator Marco Rubio gave his piece on the sensitive subject of Puerto Rican statehood.  His position: reject the notion that Puerto Rico could request statehood with “50% + 1″ vote. According to El Nuevo Día, Rubio stated that Puerto Rican support for statehood “doesn’t have to be 100%, nor 90%, but it cannot be, to say a figure, 51% of the votes.”

The Senator, widely promoted as a potential running mate for Mitt Romney, sharply differs with the nominee on the island’s statehood issue.  If you recall, Romney stated, while in Puerto Rico, that he would support Puerto Rico’s petition to become the 51st  state if “50% plus one” of Puerto Ricans voted for it.

Rubio’s position places him in the same camp as Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, both who believe that a change in Puerto Rico’s status option should come with a broad consensus and not a razor thin majority like Governor Romney suggests. Rubio’s statements regarding the status issue did not end with statehood – he also had words regarding the much debated “Commonwealth” status, stating that Puerto Rico should have the option to “expand” the current Commonwealth (Estado Libre Asociado) status, a notion that was rejected by the White House’s Task Force on Puerto Rico.

Rubio’s statements will resonate differently on the local political camps on the Island. Statehood supporters may turn against the Florida Senator, just as they scorned Santorum and Gingrich for not supporting a simple majority vote for statehood.

Rubio may also face some criticism from Florida Boricuas, many who believe in the statehood cause. This is due to the fact that the anti-statehood movement has usually resorted to the “supermajority” argument in its campaign against statehood.

In sum, the theory goes that Puerto Rico would need a supermajority vote in order to become a state. In so far as said vote tally cannot be achieved, statehood will remain a pipe dream. The supermajority requirement has been mentioned in previous congressional hearings regarding the status issue, but it has never been included in a final bill before Congress. Additionally, Congress has never imposed said requirement on a state prior to entry. For “statehooders”, support for anything that sounds like the supermajority rule is interpreted as veiled opposition for statehood at worst, and timid support at best.

On the other side of the political battlefield, Commonwealth supporters who advocate for greater powers (such as vetoing federal legislation while maintaing federal funds for the Island, among other convenient points), will welcome Rubio’s statement that the current status can be retooled to expand Puerto Rico’s autonomy powers. This, the possibility of a new (and more autonomous) commonwealth status that does not fall in the category of a free associated republic has been dismissed by the Statehood Party (PNP), Independence Party (PIP) and the White House (in its Task Force Report). It will embolden those on the “right” of the Commonwealth party (PPD)who reject the idea of a free associated republic model for Puerto Rico (such as the Hernandez Mayoral brothers) while diminishing the voice of those on the “left” who advocate a more sovereign model for Puerto Rico (such as the PPD’s candidate for San Juan, Carmen Yulín).

Senator Rubio’s comments place him at complete odds with Mitt Romney on this issue, something that will become a significant thorn (among Puerto Rican Republicans) if Rubio is picked to be the VP for the GOP ticket. However, it could also showcase the fact that Rubio is not afraid to say what everyone else is thinking: the US cannot accept Puerto Rico as a state with 49% of the population against it. Given that Rubio represents (as a Florida Senator) a significant portion of the Puerto Rican diaspora, it will be interesting to see how these comments play out in Boricua politics.

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  1. Justin

    The population 50% do not want to make PR a state. I wish these U.S. American's understand that we Puerto-Ricans want to be recognized as our own nation.

  2. Fernando

    I believe population of Puerto Rico is just afraid of change. Given the choice of becoming and independent nation or a State, the great majority would choose statehood. That choice has never been given to us. The closest we will get in this plebiscite where the first question asked is wether we want to change the status Quo.

    Since you stated your comment with such authority I'll do the same:

    The population of Puerto Rico 90% want to make PR a state if the other choice is independence.

  3. Marcus Ilarraza

    Ask not not what this country can do for Puerto Rico but what can Puerto Rico can do for this country

    • Ray Santos

      Marcus we Puerto Rican have fought in every War since War War one and pay with our live we have done more for our country than most others American.

  4. ARB

    There is no desire in the general populous of Puerto Rico to become a state. We have been more than clear that the only way to move forward economically and socially, is to have the right to determine our own political path without the restraints imposed by the present colonial form of government. We are a country with different values and needs than the US. Statehood is not the best option in the long run. Puerto Rico must have its independence in order to grow and gain a position in this global economy.

  5. Jean Vidal

    Agree with ARB. There is a significant group of those who favor statehood who do it for pure economic reasons (ie. federal handout) and fear of the unknown (self-sufficiency) rather than a true loyalty to the US (although there are some who do speak English and consider themselves as red-blooded American as apple pie, which is fine).

    But a 51st state (Puerto Rico) poses a significant challenge to the cultural make-up of the US. While many states serve as melting pots, Puerto Rico would not have a "pot to melt into" since it could stay firm in its culture, traditions and more importantly, language.

  6. Roberto Vazquez

    The problem is that we Puerto Ricans have not be confronted with the need to take a decision. The situation is not statehood or independence vs status quo. The situation is having to decide vs not having to decide. And probably we will stay rowing in the stale waters at the lagoon of indecision until we are forced (by design or by crisis) to sail into the open sea. The cultural, economic, and many other aspects could be solved then.

    • N.L.Rodriguez

      Well put statement, I agree and disagree with you. For one I don't think that making an actual decision is a problem for most Puerto Ricans, I think it is making the most stable decision. Obviously as a common wealth, we want more power and representation if we are continuing to be a U.S territory. Yet without our own economic stability, one that is not dependent on the U.S we can not make a drastic decision, or "sail into the open sea" as you say. If that happens We send the rest of the Puerto Ricans drowning. Once you're rested deep water it's harder to save you from drowning then if you went out with a life vest. In this case and economically sound life vest.

  7. Ray Santos

    Rubio is anti puerto rican and he had show it in his anti p.r. statement, he will be voter out of office next time he runs for office and if Romney picks him for v.p. he will loose the p.r. votes and we have two times the votes as the cubans Romney will also loose the Mexican American votes. Romney will make a big mistake if he picks Rubio, he for sure will loose the Hispanic American votes, Romney will end up with only the Anti Castro Cubans votes in Miami.

  8. Papo

    Ask the cubans and dominicans how independence has worked out for them…

    • TheLWord

      Cubans got their independence from the U.S. in 1903. Dominicans declared independence from Haiti. Both are down due to political corruption.

      Statehooders in PR are possibly more corrupt than their Dominican and Cuban counterparts. I've lost count how many have gone to jail for fraud and other immoral acts,.

  9. [...] Rubio’s “50% plus one” for Puerto Rican Statehood [...]

  10. N.L.Rodriguez

    Yo soy boricua, I am a Puerto Rican. The subject at hand has always been a difficult subject to deal with, Puerto Rico is deeply rooted in culture and traditions and for years all we have desired is to be known as our own nation with our own identity. Racial and Ethnic Composition in Puerto Rico from the 2010 Census estimated that 75.8% of Puerto Ricans identified themselves as white, why is that? It is because even in a census we have limited options, we are not African-American, we are not Asian, or American Indian. We are Latinos, we are Puerto Ricans.

    With the subject of whether or not Puerto Rico should vote for a status quo, an independent country, a sovereign nation associated with the U.S. that would not be subject to the Territorial Clause of the United States Constitution, or a U.S State is not a decision that can happen over night. I completely agree and advocate for a free Puerto Rico as it's own independent country, as many others do. Yet that dream has major repercussions. Since Puerto Rico has been drastically dependent on the U.S, making Puerto Rico it's own country, would send it's people in a complete economic ruin. For example, before Sugar Cane fields were owned by Puerto Ricans and now with the growing relationship with the U.S is all run by big business (mind you this is not a debate on the advantages or disadvantages of big government). That is only one example of our dependance on the U.S.

    For now I believe the best thing to do is to vote for a status quo, until we can slowly transform into our own country that will be stable and prosperous. With the status quo and continuing to remain as a common wealth, Puerto Ricans will not losing our culture and traditions and if we vote for Puerto Rico as the 51st state I believe we will lose that culture, Puerto Ricans then lose their Spanish heritage and pride. Anyone can disagree or agree, but this is just what I believe.

  11. 100% Island Made

    Regardless of what you all have commented,the fact is that Puerto Rico will become the 51st State. Face the Music (Salsa),if you don't like that don't visit 51 and if you live in 51 and don't like it move to Cuba,Venezuela or the moon or you can have a spot of tea when you move to England.Boricuas don't be afraid! and to all others don't be afraid of the Boricuas. 51 will be a Island state with with powerful pride. Don't "Playa" hate and when I say "playa" I mean Beach,hahaha. I can hear the music now, the "JAWS" Music, "51" is coming. Raise your hand if you are Scared. Muchas Thanks!

  12. JAYPR

    PR INDEPENDENCE!!!! KEEP OUR LANGUAGE AND CULTURE. STATEHOOD WILL KILL THE PR CULTURE AND OUR LANGUAGE. LOOK AT HAWAII. And for thoes people thinking it wont. Name me one state that speaks over 50% of a different language other than english? …………….. NONE. Fortuno says he wants equal rights for ALL Puerto Ricans yet he doesnt support the gays/lesbians like Obama does? Gimme a break . Fortuno is a JOKE.

  13. Fantastic post however I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this
    topic? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit further.

    Bless you!

  14. […] candidates’ records of public statements on the issue will inevitably be scrutinized, with inconsistencies or hypocrisies seized […]

  15. […] en el Congreso? Podría ser que a ellos se les permitan votar en las elecciones presidenciales? El récord público de las declaraciones sobre este tema será inevitablemente analizado, con las inconsistencias o […]

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