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Puerto Rico Voter Harassment

February 15, 2000
Copyright © 2000 THE FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. All Rights Reserved.

Puerto Rico is a commonwealth, having been seized during the Spanish-American War a century ago.

In a 1993 referendum, Puerto Ricans were given their choice between statehood, sovereignty and the status quo -- and they chose the latter.

Given the same choice in December 1998, they voted the same way.

Now Clinton is asking for a referendum in October -- the second in two years and the third in seven.

When is he going to accept the decision of the people of Puerto Rico?

It seems much like the efforts of casino gambling advocates, who continue trying to get the issue on the ballot even though Florida voters have defeated it several times.

The liberal president knows many Puerto Ricans are poor and he may think that would increase the chances of them electing liberal Democrats into the two new U.S. Senate seats statehood would create.

Also, the first lady is running for the Senate in New York, which is heavily populated with ethnic Puerto Ricans.

Apparently, there are a number of reasons why Puerto Ricans keep voting against statehood.

Some want independence. Others understandably aren't willing to give up the preferential tax treatment that comes with the status quo. Yet others fear, with some justification, that statehood would bring undue pressure to break with their Spanish culture and language.

The merits of statehood can be debated at length, but the fact is that the people there have spoken -- not once, but often. A new election every five or 10 years might be reasonable, but not every other year.

Give it a rest.

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