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As part of an ongoing series for 2012, the year of yet another Puerto Rican status plebiscite, JulioRVarela.com will periodically be posting columns by influential Puerto Rican political bloggers. We are honored to kick off our series with the first of three columns by Gil C. Schmidt. (NOTE: This three-part column was originally intended for a piece I wrote when I was contributing to Being Latino magazine earlier this year, and Schimidt’s response was never published by BL, so we are following up on an invitation we extended to Gil to have it published here).

Puerto Rico—Never a State (Part One)

By Gil C. Schmidt

 
Understand this: the U.S. will not grant statehood to Puerto Rico. Ever. It is not a “right” Puerto Rico has earned, it is not a “debt” the U.S. has to pay and it is not their “obligation” to take on a nation (a concept many Puerto Ricans shamefully deny we have) as part of their republican federation because of a simple reason: it is their house and they can say who comes in and who doesn’t.

Statehood for Puerto Rico is not going to happen for three unimpeachable reasons:
  1. Ethnic and economic differences, masked or open;
  2. History has spoken and
  3. Under domestic and international law, the ultimate decision is not “theirs”: it’s ours.
Ethnic and economic differences: The average American doesn’t know about or care a thing for Puerto Rico. But you can bet that their ignorance will quickly change to expertise based on a single issue: We are not like them. To the average American, we are not Americans. We are outsiders. Strangers. Parasites even. For though the U.S. was founded on humanistic ideals and principles, in fact, the ideals and principles are often expressed as “If you ain’t one of us, you don’t count and we don’t want you.” Ask Arizona.

For statehood, the procedure says that 38 States have to approve. It’s easier to find 38 States to vote against Puerto Rico. First off, none of the 9 Southern states (Louisiana to Kentucky/North Carolina) would approve. If you have to ask why, you’ve obviously never lived in those States.

Large Western states, like Montana, Idaho and Wyoming are famous for having a strong sense of freedom, “America First” sentiment and an array of militia radicals. They’ll vote NO with nary a split-second’s thought. That makes 12, so Puerto Rican statehood is finished.

But to make the point clearer, take your pick of almost-certain “No” votes: New England states that are as ultra-conservative as the winter is long or some of the other 21 States that would see their comparatively small representation overwhelmed by Puerto Rico’s in the House of Representatives, where the number of votes is based on population, not State seniority.

Furthermore, unlike the Senate, which could rise to 102 Senators, Puerto Rico’s five “representatives” would be taken from high-population states, namely California, New York, Florida, Texas, Illinois or Pennsylvania. These states have high Hispanic minorities, but would these states allow one of their “voices in government” to be given to a fledgling state with a comparative poverty level that makes Mississippi look like Monaco?

And let’s not ignore the question of race. It matters. It matters a lot. Maybe 50 years from now, when the majority of the population of the U.S. is non-white, maybe it won’t matter as much. Or then again, it will, as the difference between “Them that have” and “Them that don’t” could very well make the race issue seem trivial by comparison. But for now, it’s a deal-breaker, whether it’s carried out openly (“English only”) or quietly.

Bio: I lived almost 20 years in the U.S., spanning states from Nebraska to Texas to Mississippi. My appearance and name are those of a White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant, the proverbial W.A.S.P. But I was born in Puerto Rico, a fourth-generation Puerto Rican and have lived on the island continuously since 1987. You can find more of my writings about Puerto Rico at Gil The Jenius: http://gilthejenius.blogspot.com

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