Puerto Rico has, since 1508, been under the control of foreigners. After nearly four centuries of rule, the Spanish ceded the island to the United States in 1898. Since 1952, when a new constitution was adopted, Puerto Rico has been “Estado Libre Asociado,” the “Commonwealth.”
The Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2007, introduced in the U.S. Congress in February, would allow the people of Puerto Rico to choose their political future in a plebiscite to be held before the end of 2011. Three times in recent decades (the last in 1998) Puerto Ricans have voted in non-binding referendums on which they prefer: 1) retaining their current Commonwealth status, 2) choosing statehood, or 3) opting for independence.
There hasn’t been much support for changing things. Puerto Rico, as the only U.S. Commonwealth, enjoys a certain autonomy, and though her people pay the usual array of local taxes, they are not subject to the federal income tax. Should they ever choose statehood, Puerto Ricans would be able to elect five congressmen and two senators, but would be required to send their tax dollars to Washington as well.
Why can’t all Americans, not just Puerto Ricans, be given such a choice? When will Sen. Lindsey Graham introduce “The South Carolina Democracy Act of 2007”? What voter wouldn’t jump at the chance to trade him and his seven colleagues for no more IRS!
South Carolina League of the South