Puerto Rico’s Latest Plebiscite: Another Waste of Time

Puerto Rico's latest plebiscite

Ricard Rosselló, governor of Puerto Rico

On Sunday, June 11, Puerto Rico’s latest plebiscite was held that would, in theory, decide the fate of the oldest colony of the United States. It’s the sixth plebiscite held on the island since 1967. The governor of the island has declared it a victory as it’s being reported that 97.1% of the votes cast were in favor of statehood.

Governor Ricardo Rosselló, who ran on a pro-statehood platform, is under some misguided impression his desires and the people living on Puerto Rico matter an iota to the United States government. As with all previous plebiscites, it wouldn’t matter if the entire island voted for statehood, the United States doesn’t give a rat’s ass about its colonies.

Puerto Rico's latest plebisciteIf you don’t read or comprehend Spanish, I bet you can still surmise that this meme expresses the following:

  • There are 2.27 million registered voters in Puerto Rico
  • 500,000 people voted for statehood
  • This means 78% / 1.77 million either oppose statehood, are completely apathetic or both

This is the second plebiscite held since my husband I moved here in 2008 and we knew better than to believe our voices matter to the U.S. government.

Puerto Rico’s Latest Plebiscite: Shedding Light on Widespread Apathy, Poor Math Skills and Delusional Thoughts

Governor Ricard Rosselló’s misguided impressions aside, he struggles with basic math. He doesn’t want to admit is that this is the lowest Puerto Rican voter turnout since 1967. According to the Guardian, “The official results recorded that just 23% of the island’s 2.3 million registered voters turned out to cast their ballot, compared with 55% in last November’s gubernatorial election won by the PNP* candidate Ricardo Rosselló. PNP officials stressed that turnout is always lower in a non-general election year, but the figure is still likely to deflate the impact of the referendum.”

(*PNP stands for Partido Nuevo Progresista. There are two other main political parties in Puerto Rico are Popular, which is for remaining a colony and Independence.)

So why does Governor Ricardo Rosselló need to buy a clue? I’ll explain in just a few examples. There are many more but these are the highlights.

  1. Debt is big business for investors
  2. Nobody loves Puerto Rico more than Monsanto
  3. A captive audience for all the U.S.’s goods and consumables
  4. Does the U.S. really want 4 million more Hispanics, a.k.a. Multiracial people, most of whom are … gasp! democrats?

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Interest!

Puerto Rico's latest plebiscite

Puerto Rico is currently in debt up to our necks. The figure hovers around $68 billion. To understand how Puerto Rico got into this debt and my proposed solution to get us out of it, here’s something I wrote last year.

If you’ve ever been in debt, you know that you’d do just about anything to get yourself out of it, wouldn’t you? Let’s get something straight: Puerto Rico’s latest plebiscite isn’t about doing the right thing for Puerto Rico. It’s about allowing Puerto Rico to discharge its massive debt. As a colony, we have no way to discharge this debt. The option for bankruptcy was taken away from us in 1979 when Arizona Senator Dennis DeConcini introduced S.658, the Bankruptcy Technical Amendments Act that “inadvertently” or on purpose, excluded Puerto Rico.

And believe me, Puerto Rico has tried many ways to pay off this massive debt. One way was to slash the budget of the University of Puerto Rico (our main public university) by half. Yes … half. Students were the ones shafted in that insane deal.

So how do investors reap the benefit if we remain in debt, unable to file bankruptcy? In the same way interest accrues on your credit card debt when you don’t pay it off in full each month, the same thing happens with a debt of $68 billion. If Puerto Rico were able to do as other U.S. states have done and discharge that debt, investors would lose all that monthly income. Meanwhile tax breaks for hedge fund holders continue to be offered while we living on the island pay.

How do we pay? Our sales tax went up to 11.25%, the cost of goods and consumables went up but minimum wage dropped to $4.25 an hour–thank you former president Barack Obama and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan for that gift.

Why Monsanto Wouldn’t Want to Accept the Results of Puerto Rico’s Latest Plebiscite

Monsanto has bought up lots of land on Puerto Rico. It uses the land to experiment with GMOs and their highly-toxic RoundUp. We can neither have a say in what they’re using our land for, nor can we kick them out. Not only could that land be used for organic farming, but their frankenfood is toxic and just growing it around us poses health risks!

The USDA is another “big brother” on the island, pushing their chemical fertilizer, RoundUp and pesticides. Monsanto has a reputation for strong arming little eco-organic farmers like my husband and me, which is why we don’t sell anything we produce.

A Colony is a Captive Audience for the Mother Country’s Food and Other Consumables

Thanks to the Merchant Marine act of 1920, as a colony, we have zero say in what products and consumables come to the island. This is the case with all colonies. We have to accept whatever the U.S. sends us and pay whatever jacked up prices are on the packages. We pay for non-organic food what Americans on the mainland pay for organic food and our organic food (that’s imported to the island) is insanely expensive. It’s estimated Puerto Rico imports some 96% of its food from the U.S. The only ships that can dock in Puerto Rico’s ports are ones with United States flags on them.

Statehood would mean we could make deals with our countries for food and other consumables or here’s a thought … grow our own food without the “oversight” of the USDA.

Puerto Rico’s Latest Plebiscite Results Would Reverse a 100+-Year-Old Colonial Relationship

Puerto Rico has been a colony of the United States since 1898 when it won the island from Spain. Each year more and more of our rights are stripped away. The following are just a few of the atrocities the United States has carried out against Puerto Rico:

  • Forced sterilizations
  • Bombings on Vieques
  • Intentional infection of Puerto Ricans with cancer cells
  • The 40-year-long depopulation and eugenics experiments done on Puerto Ricans
  • The multiple massacres during the 1930s by the U.S. military
  • The 30-year-long torture campaign carried out
  • The secret spraying of not one but two toxic chemicals to kill the mosquitoes that supposedly cause the Zika virus (but didn’t touch the mosquitoes but did kill off most of our bees).

On October 30, 1950, simultaneous uprisings took place in Utuado, Jayuya, San Juan, Mayagüez, Arecibo and Naranjito that brought in the National Guard, P-47 Thunderbolt bomber planes, and resulted in many in the nationalist party dead, with many more arrested.

Although Governor Ricardo Rosselló was quoted as saying, “From today, the federal government will no longer be able to ignore the voice of the majority of the American citizens in Puerto Rico. It would be highly contradictory for Washington to demand democracy in other parts of the world, and not respond to the legitimate right to self-determination that was exercised today in the American territory of Puerto Rico.”

Someone needs to send Governor Ricardo Rosselló a copy of the meme above. And besides that, self-determination means being independent: not a state or a colony.

So How Does the U.S. Feel About the Results of Puerto Rico’s Latest Plebiscite?

Despite Governor Ricardo Rosselló’s delusions of grandeur, he obviously wasn’t paying much attention to his island’s history with the United States or with the way the United States is heading politically.

Be that as it may, Puerto Rico’s latest plebiscite results are with the U.S. Congress now and the likelihood it will grant Puerto Rico statehood are slim to none. Leaving aside that it wouldn’t be good for Home Depot, Walmart and numerous other companies that get tax breaks for being on the island, there is the issue of the language and multiracial status of Puerto Ricans.

Puerto Rico's latest plebiscite

Three people in this photo are not Puerto Rican. All but two in the photo are multiracial.

Puerto Ricans aren’t going to be forced to be English-only (it’s been tried and it failed), and why should they? Puerto Ricans, widely considered Hispanic, are actually Black, White and Native: comprising West African, Spanish and Taino blood. Does the U.S. really want 4 million more ambiguous looking people, most of whom would vote democrat? Right now we can’t vote in the general election. As a state, we’d be given that right. And that aside, isn’t the U.S. already concerned with the growing number of ambiguous looking people it already has?

Perhaps Dr. Amilcar Barreto, a professor or Puerto Rican politics at Northeastern University in Boston can say it better and more succinctly than I can. “This brings out the worst in the US Congress. To be blunt, it brings out the racist side of Congress. To admit to the union a Spanish-speaking, racially-diverse population – hell no.”

There you have it. Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló is officially delusional.

 

My name is Sarah and I am one of the founders of Multiracial Media. Not only am I multiracial (Black, Asian and White), but I’ve also lived in or spent long periods of time in several countries, throughout the United States and now my husband and I live on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. I see myself both in terms of my racial and ethnic identity as well as someone who appreciates the food, culture and customs of all nations—like a citizen of the world. Sarah’s World Beat column reflects this.

If you would like me to write about your culture or country, please drop me a line and suggest a topic.

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