Results of the Puerto Rico Vote Leaves Many With More Questions Than Answers

(Image Courtesy of Watchdog.org.)

The political future of Puerto Rico remains unclear more than two weeks after residents cast their votes in high numbers. Close to 80 percent of Puerto Ricans voted in a referendum on Nov. 6th that aimed to re-evaluate Puerto Rico’s status with the United States.

Many media outlets announced the results of the recent vote now show that 61 percent of Puerto Ricans favor statehood, however that 61 percent is being questioned. The results of the two part vote may be more confusing than the island’s political status.

The first part of the vote consisted of a Yes/No question: Do you agree to maintain the current political territorial status? Here “No” won by nearly 54 percent. For the first time since the first of four plebiscites were held in 1967, a clear, simple majority voted against the current status and for some form of decolonization.

Even for those who voted yes, three options followed in the second part of the ballot: statehood, independence or a sovereign free associated state.

According to the Associated Press, 900,000 Puerto Rican voters or 54 percent said they were not happy with the current status. In the follow-up question, nearly 800,000 or 61 percent chose statehood as their preferred option, 437,000 picked sovereign free association and 72,560 selected independence. Close to 500,000 people left the question blank.

Angelo Falcón, president of the National Institute for Latino Policy, told CUNY-TV he believes there will be no immediate movement on the statehood issue in the U.S. Congress. Falcón notes if you factor in the almost 500,000 people who skipped the second question, the 61 statehood rate would go down to about 45 percent.

Rosa Clemente, the 2008 Green Party vice-presidential candidate and a supporter of Puerto Rican independence, believes the people of Puerto Rico truly want independence but are afraid of what a Puerto Rico without the support of the United States would look like.

Many also question if statehood is the general consensus on the island, why was pro-statehood Governor Luis Fortuño ousted in favor of pro-commonwealth Governor-elect Alejandro Garcia Padilla?

Both Falcón and Clemente believe Puerto Ricans on the U.S. mainland should have an opportunity to vote on the issue of Puerto Rico’s political status. According to the Pew Research Center, more people of Puerto Rican origin live in the United States than on the island.

The Associated Press stated that Puerto Rican Governor-elect Garcia plans to have a constitutional assembly in 2014 to address the island’s status and to raise another referendum with the support of Congress.

“I genuinely hope that Congress will listen to the will of the Puerto Rican people and to the citizens of that island,” he said.

[Below is Falcón and Cemente on CUNY-TV (interview within the first 10 minutes of the show.)]

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The People of Puerto Rico Vote Again to Define Their Status

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia.com.)

Once again, the destiny of a people is in their hands at the ballet box. On November 6, 2012 when all of America will be casting votes for the U.S. presidency, Puerto Rican residents (who are U.S. citizens but cannot vote for its president) will vote to decide to remain a commonwealth, become a state, or an independent country.

This time, voters will have two questions. The first will ask residents if they want Puerto Rico to remain a U.S. territory. The second will pose three alternatives: independence, becoming a nation in free association with the United States, and statehood. The current status, “commonwealth” is a territorial status since it falls under the U.S. Constitution’s territorial clause.

Puerto Ricans for quite some time have not stood unified toward a collective political vision of their future. Today supporters of the commonwealth status would like to modify the status to one of a sovereign commonwealth, which pretty much enhances the relationship between the U.S. and Puerto Rico with P.R. negotiating relations with the U.S. as a sovereign nation, but remain a free associated commonwealth.

To me, that’s basically commonwealth 2.0. I think the commonwealth status has had its day and it’s time to move on.

The only viable long term options are independence or statehood. I believe the island of my ancestors should seriously consider becoming an independent country or the 51st state of the union. Independence could work with the United State’s help and a 10 year transitional period. The U.S. during this time would assist with getting Puerto Rico on its independent feet and help prepare Puerto Ricans to fend for themselves.

Since I am not a resident of Puerto Rico I cannot vote on this issue on November 6, but if I was a resident and had to make a decision today I lean toward statehood. Since 1898 we have been dependent upon the U.S. and have operated like a part of the country. The people of Puerto Rico should get all benefits of U.S. citizenship like voting for the U.S. president and having two senators and at least one voting representative in the U.S. Congress.

On November 6, voter turnout will be high. Back in 2000, more than 80 percent of registered voters went to the polls. Puerto Rico residents vote at much higher rates than residents of the 50 states.

If it became a state, Puerto Rico would be like the Hawaii of the east coast. Poverty, crime, and unemployment are dismal in P.R. so the added U.S. support as a state would finally give residents a fighting chance of a better standard of living.

There are disadvantages and advantages to both statehood and independence. With statehood Puerto Rico would not be able to have its own Olympic Team or Miss Universe contestant, along with entries in other sporting and social events.

With independence Puerto Rico would need to enlist a military and craft a possible defense decree with the U.S. Puerto Rico would also have to boost its major exports, which according to the EconomyWatch.com consists of  chemicals, electronics, apparel, canned tuna, rum, beverage concentrates and medical equipment.

President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have both said they support the commonwealth’s right to self-determination. No matter the outcome of the November 6, 2012, vote on Puerto Rico’s status, hopefully it will highlight a clearer understanding of what lies ahead for the people of Puerto Rico.


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Sol by Hélios González

Sol by Hélios González (Album Cover, all rights reserved.)

I admire young Latinos living their full potential and creating incredible works of art. In my continuous support of Latino artists, I’d like to showcase the music of someone I recently started following on Twitter: Hélios González. I listened to Hélios‘ album Sol and truly enjoyed the music.  You can feel the talent in every note and the overall musical project is impressive. I am not the most knowledgable person out there when it comes to Latin popular music, but Hélios has opened my mind a bit. I really liked each of the five tracks on Hélios’ album with my top two favorites being Deja el Alma and Sol. You can sample all of the tracks on SoundCloud.

For his first album, Hélios sought to provide something different. “We wanted to offer something new and refreshing,”  Hélios says in his bio. “Many have said the same, but just follow the same rules that have always existed in Latin pop. We wanted to break the mold, and I think we did.”

Hélios is supported by respected producers Alfredo Cevallos and Mike Swittel. This talented duo has participated in productions of some of the greatest Latino musicians including Ricky Martin, Christina Aguilera and Puerto Rican flutist Nestor Torres (with whom they won a Latin Grammy,) among many other artists.

Hélios González was born in New York City to Puerto Rican parents. He later moved to the island of Puerto Rico where he honed his musical talent. Today Hélios lives in Miami promoting his music to the Latino masses. Hélios is living his dream and I am happy to help promote the music of a fellow Boricua.

So take a listen, hear what Latin pop music is today. Support a Latino artist. Buy a iTune or/and share this post.


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