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Greensboro News & Record

Give Puerto Ricans Tools To Decide Statehood Issue

April 17, 1999
Copyright © 1999 Greensboro News & Record

Your April 5 editorial regarding statehood for Puerto Rico needs clarification.

First of all, Puerto Ricans did not reject statehood. In fact, statehood received 46.5 percent of the vote. It was a rejection of the existing commonwealth status, which received less than 1 percent of the vote.

Your editorial claims there is no colonialism in Puerto Rico because "the island's 3.8 million people are perfectly free to declare independence." You forget these 3.8 million people are also American citizens just like you and me. Why should they be faced with independence and lose their American citizenship and constitutional guarantees?

Puerto Rico was the first state or territory to have English as an official language. Today, like several other states, Puerto Rico has two official languages - English and Spanish.

Only under statehood can Puerto Rico end its economic stagnation and close the gap with the rest of the states. And what is most interesting is that Puerto Rico would be revenue neutral to the U.S. Treasury in 10 to 11 years.

Congress must act on the results of the Dec. 13, 1998, plebiscite - in which there was no winner. Congress must help guide the people to make a decision. It must do an in-depth study of the existing commonwealth structure. It also must spell out the conditions under which statehood would be granted - as was done with other states.

Not knowing the conditions for each option in any referendum is like playing darts. The voters have darts in hand, but they don't know where the target is.

Give the people the tools and let them decide. This will bring fairness to this process.

John A. Regis Jr. Santurce, Puerto Rico

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