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THE SUN SENTINEL
Rossello's Frustration Justified
July 13, 1999
Copyright © 1999 THE SUN SENTINEL. All Rights Reserved.
Puerto Rico 's Gov. Pedro Rossello is venting his frustrations
with Washington in front of the whole world.
Rossello, who supports statehood for Puerto Rico, is urging the
United Nations to declare Puerto Rico a U.S. colony. Oddly, on
this issue, Rossello finds himself siding with Cuba, which has
long urged the U.N. Decolonization Committee to return Puerto
Rico to its list of non-governing territories. The U.N. removed
Puerto Rico from the list in 1953, when the island became a self-governing
Declaring Puerto Rico a colony, with Cuba's support, would embarrass
the United States before the world community. But Rossello believes
it would also force Washington's hand on the issue of statehood,
and he may be right.
Last year, a U.S. House bill that addressed Puerto Rico's political
status died in the Senate. This means Congress has never asked
Puerto Ricans to chose between statehood, independence or the
The White House hasn't been much help either. The question of
Puerto Rico has never been high on any administration's priority
This is partly Puerto Rico 's fault. The island's 3.8 million
residents haven't been able to make up their mind on the status
Statehood and commonwealth supporters are about equally divided,
with a tiny minority favoring independence.
Washington's indifference to the problem has contributed to Puerto
Rico 's indecisiveness. It's difficult for Puerto Rican voters
to make a choice when Congress hasn't spelled out the pluses and
minuses of each of the options, or has ever agreed to honor the
Past congressional attempts to get the Puerto Rico status process
going have failed because of complex issues surrounding the debate.
These range from admitting the first Spanish-speaking state into
the union to the question of how to handle the American citizenship
of Puerto Ricans if the island becomes independent.
Residents of Puerto Rico voted in a special non-binding status
election last year, and a slight majority chose the "none
of the above" option, likely voicing their frustrations with
the process. The election occurred a few months after Congress
failed to authorize a binding vote.
The Puerto Rico issue has been around for only 101 years, ever
since the United States seized Puerto Rico from Spain in 1898.
A century should be enough time to give Puerto Ricans an opportunity
to determine their political destiny.
It's not difficult to understand why Gov. Rossello is frustrated.