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The Tampa Tribune


Islander A Victim Of War Games

May 10, 1999
Copyright © 1999 The Tampa Tribune

The nation's revolutionary founders taught us to fight taxation without representation. But what do we do about Puerto Rico, which has neither taxation nor representation?

Because it has no voting voice in Congress, Puerto Rico lacks political muscle. An example of this weakness is seen on the Puerto Rican island of Visques, largely owned by the U.S. Navy and long used for bombing practice. About seven miles from the bombing range is a village of about 9,000 Puerto Ricans.

Nowhere else in the United States do real bombs fall so near so many citizens, complains Alcides Ortiz, executive director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration.

Last month a civilian security guard was killed when two jet pilots, practicing for duty in Yugoslavia, missed their target and hit an observation post. Puerto Ricans protested loudly and the Navy temporarily suspended live-fire training, but Ortiz is not impressed.

"If this were to happen in one of the 50 states, the congressional delegation would be taking action," he says.

Puerto Ricans are proud to help the United States fight its wars but are understandably frustrated by their second-class political status. The residents of the Caribbean commonwealth are U.S. citizens, but only if they move to one of the 50 states may they vote for president and pay taxes. As The Washington Post notes, they are "at the full mercy of powerful interests beyond their political reach."

No U.S. state would trade its voting voice in Washington for freedom from taxes. Puerto Ricans should remember that the next time they vote on statehood.

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