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Make Puerto Rico a State Now

Like all Americans, the people of Puerto Rico went to the polls on Tuesday. But unlike their fellow citizens, Puerto Ricans cannot vote for the president, or for senators or representatives (except for one nonvoting “resident commissioner”). Instead, voters there were asked whether they wanted Puerto Rico to become the 51st state of the union: “yes” or “no.” They chose “yes.” With this historic vote, Puerto Ricans have staked their claim to admission as the 51st state in the Union.

A bill that was introduced in Congress in 2019 but didn’t come to a vote before the statehood referendum would have expressed Congress’s commitment to admitting Puerto Rico as a state if the “yes” vote won.…  Seguir leyendo »

A memorial, in San Juan, P.R., in June called “Project 4,645," was a collective initiative from social media reacting to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine that estimated that 4,645 people died in Hurricane Maria and its aftermath. The official death toll is now estimated to be 2,975. CreditCreditErika P. Rodriguez for The New York Times

The wind and rain began lashing New Orleans in the early hours of Aug. 29, 2005, while President George W. Bush was on vacation at his ranch in Texas. As the levees buckled and water poured into the city, the federal government tarried. Later, Hurricane Katrina’s long pall — the more than 1,800 related deaths, the devastation and the slow federal response — would come to haunt Mr. Bush’s presidency, cratering his approval rating.

President Trump, who has overseen his own hurricane crisis after last year’s storms in Texas and Puerto Rico, has largely escaped the presidency-defining censure that dogged Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

Una dañada bandera puertorriqueña, sobre la que han pintado en aerosol la frase "juntos como si fuéramos uno", cuelga sobre la fachada de un negocio en San Juan, Puerto Rico, el 27 de septiembre de 2017. Credit Ramon Espinosa/Associated Press

Desolado por la destrucción y sumido en la espera de ayuda para atender una crisis humanitaria inédita en su historia, Puerto Rico enfrenta un panorama incierto tras el paso del huracán María. El cuadro general de los daños es todavía preliminar debido al derrumbe de las telecomunicaciones, pero las pérdidas aseguradas se estiman en más de 70.000 millones de dólares, cifra solamente comparable con el daño que dejó en 2005 el huracán Katrina. La isla recibió en apenas 24 horas el total de lluvia que recibió Houston por el huracán Harvey en tres días. Sin embargo, a doce días del evento atmosférico, la mitad de la isla sigue sin servicio de agua y las imágenes de las inundaciones en los litorales costeros desnudan una historia compleja de desposesión y explotación colonial que requiere una solución inmediata.…  Seguir leyendo »

Devastation in San Juan, P.R., after Hurricane Maria. Credit Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

Hurricane Maria was the most powerful storm to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years. It left the entire island without electricity, which may take six months to restore. It toppled trees, shattered windows, tore off roofs and turned streets into rivers throughout the island.

President Trump declared that “Puerto Rico was absolutely obliterated” and issued a federal disaster declaration. But the United States needs to do more. It needs to suspend the Jones Act in Puerto Rico.

After World War I, America was worried about German U-boats, which had sunk nearly 5,000 ships during the war. Congress enacted the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, a.k.a.…  Seguir leyendo »

A street performer plays the accordion for money in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Credit Alfredo Sosa/The Christian Science Monitor, via Getty Images

The United States invaded Puerto Rico in 1898 and took it from Spain. Although the residents became United States citizens in 1917, the island’s colonial status has been a locus of political debate and struggle for most of its subsequent history.

Just a few months after gaining citizenship, Puerto Ricans were made subject to a United States military draft. But they have never gotten to elect a voting member of Congress, despite being governed by United States law. The island is officially an “unincorporated territory” of the United States, but since the 1950s, it has preferred to call itself an “estado libre asociado” — free associated state — or a “commonwealth.”…  Seguir leyendo »

La hija del nacionalista puertorriqueño Óscar López Rivera, Clarisa López, agradece emocionada a un congresista durante la conferencia de prensa que ofreció el miércoles, un día después de que el presidente Obama conmutara la sentencia de su padre, que podrá salir de prisión en mayo próximo. Carlos Giusti/Associated Press

La historia íntima de un pueblo se compone de las emociones y sentimientos que lo atraviesan, de las altas y bajas que afectan su estado de ánimo. Lo que realmente conforma a un país en su presente y su futuro es ese magma inmaterial que experimenta y acumula cuando ocurre lo que ocurre en tal fecha, durante tal hecho. Las buenas y las malas cosas de la vida se conservan a veces en recuerdos exactos; otras, en sensaciones e impresiones.

Así ha sido con el esfuerzo por la excarcelación del independentista Óscar López Rivera, que culminó este martes pasado con la conmutación de su pena por parte del presidente Barack Obama.…  Seguir leyendo »

La crisis de Puerto Rico

Vergüenza ajena da advertir cómo un distraído desasosiego se ha apoderado de parte de la población del país y un sentimiento de desconcierto se ha instalado entre los políticos de Puerto Rico. La verdad es que no esperaban la enorme bofetada política que Estados Unidos les propinó en los últimos dos años.

La Casa Blanca, la Corte Suprema y el congreso nos recordaron que el país no es ni Estado ni Libre ni Asociado; que, desde 1898, no es más que la colonia latinoamericana de un imperio candoroso convencido de que, gracias a su pasado de sujeción a Inglaterra, es incapaz de poseer ninguna; que hasta el día de hoy Puerto Rico es una nación sin Estado, ni carne ni pescado.…  Seguir leyendo »

La estatua de San Juan Bautista frente al Capitolio de Puerto Rico. El 30 de septiembre, se realizó la primera reunión de la Junta de Control Fiscal nombrada por el presidente Barack Obama. Credit Ricardo Arduengo/Associated Press

La primera reunión de la Junta de Control Fiscal nombrada por el presidente Barack Obama, en virtud de la Ley para la Supervisión, Administración y Estabilidad Económica de Puerto Rico (ley Promesa, por su sigla en inglés) se realizó el 30 de septiembre. Ese día los puertorriqueños pudieron observar durante 29 minutos cómo trabajarán los directivos de ese organismo que operará por encima de los funcionarios electos para acometer el arduo proceso de enderezar las finanzas de este territorio no incorporado de Estados Unidos.

Los puertorriqueños José M. Carrión III (presidente), Ana Matosantos, Carlos García y José Ramón González junto a los estadounidenses Andrew Biggs, David Arthur Skeel y Thomas J.…  Seguir leyendo »

Puerto Rico’s Rude Awakening

It’s official now. Puerto Rico has about as much sovereignty as a United States colony.

The word came down from Washington in mid-June, in two Supreme Court rulings that insult our pride as self-governing United States citizens.

One said our courts lacked the power of state courts to try local criminals separately after federal prosecutors weighed in. The other said we must go hat in hand to Congress if our public utilities are to get debt relief. Unlike states, we cannot help them seek bankruptcy protection.

A third insult — from Congress — came as we reached the brink of default two weeks ago.…  Seguir leyendo »

La economía de Puerto Rico se ha venido contrayendo desde hace casi diez años -una de las peores recesiones en la historia reciente entre economías que no experimentan un conflicto interno. Por cierto, su derrumbe se ha prolongado muchísimo más que el que experimentaron, por caso, los estados bálticos, que también soportaron fuertes contracciones luego de la crisis financiera global de 2008. ¿Por qué la economía de Puerto Rico no se ha recuperado?

La situación en el territorio autónomo de Estados Unidos efectivamente se ve funesta. Puerto Rico sólo es superado por Grecia en términos de la tasa de contracción del PIB (14% de 2006 a 2015).…  Seguir leyendo »

La colonia norteamericana de Puerto Rico en el Caribe quebró. Hoy no es ni si quiera la caricatura de mal gusto de lo que los Estados Unidos (EE.UU.) pretendió hacer ver al mundo. Lo que fuera una vez el modelo americano en América Latina y el Caribe es hoy el fracaso de un modelo colonial de otros tiempo que sangra profusamente.

La degradación puertorriqueña ha sido lenta, pero constante. A través de la historia reciente, muchas voces profetizaron la hecatombe puertorriqueña, pero fueron ignoradas y silenciadas. Hoy no hay sorpresas.

Se trató por décadas de mantener vivo un modelo colonial natimuerto mediante préstamos de capital norteamericano que llegaron acumular la colosal e impagable deuda de más de 70 millardos de dólares norteamericanos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Puerto Rico's governor recently claimed that the island could not pay all its debts. In the media, comparisons to Greece abound. But if Puerto Rico were a patient, then most commentators would have been misdiagnosing its illness and recommending improper treatment. A dose of reality is in order.

Puerto Rico is a United States territory, home to the 3.5 million people I represent in Congress. Residents have been American citizens since 1917 and have served in the United States military since World War I. There are also five million individuals of Puerto Rican heritage living in the States, and as conditions in Puerto Rico deteriorate, my constituents are now leaving for the mainland at a rate of 50,000 a year.…  Seguir leyendo »

Puerto Rico, peor que Grecia

Escribir es echar hojas al aire y a veces me da la sensación de que yo soy el único lector de mis artículos, sin contar a los amables redactores de EL MUNDO y de las demás editoriales que me los corrijan o mejoren. De vez en cuando, empero, llega un correo o carta de parte de un lector, participando datos interesantes o reflexiones relacionadas con alguna observación mía. Por casualidad, en este sentido, acaban de llegar un par de mensajes sugerentes, aparentemente sobre temas divergentes.

El primero procede de un estudiante de doctorado en la New York University, que me cuenta que algunos profesores suyos menosprecian su intento de escribir estudios comparados de la Historia de los imperios.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tuesday marks the 520th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in Puerto Rico. Since that time, the island’s political status has been colonial in nature.

After four centuries of Spanish rule, Puerto Rico was ceded to the United States in 1898. Residents were granted U.S. citizenship in 1917, and the federal government has allowed Puerto Rico to exercise authority over its local affairs in a manner similar to the 50 states. Nevertheless, Puerto Rico’s status has not changed. In the 21st century, the island remains exactly what it was at the close of the 19th century: a territory of the United States.…  Seguir leyendo »

One hundred and 15 years ago, the United States invaded Puerto Rico, and it has never left.

On July 25, 1898, U.S. Army forces under the command of Gen. Nelson Miles landed in Guanica, Puerto Rico. The Caribbean island, then a Spanish colony, was one of the battlegrounds of the Spanish-American War. Miles, fresh from repressing Native Americans and striking Pullman workers, presented himself as a liberator, promising freedom and self-determination for the island’s inhabitants. We are still waiting.

At the end of the war there was no referendum. Spain ceded Puerto Rico to the United States as war booty. The island went on to become an unincorporated territory in which sovereignty belongs to the U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

The significance of the results of Puerto Rico’s Nov. 6, 2012 status plebiscite, how Congress should react to those results and what needs to be done to finally resolve the issue of the island’s ignominious political status is slowly but surely emerging as part of the agenda of the “unfinished business of American democracy.”

The reason for some of the intentionally-created confusion about Puerto Rico’s most recent plebiscite can be easily explained. There are forces on the island — along with a small cadre of mostly “hired gun” allies in Washington — that oppose any Puerto Rican status solution because they want to replace the island’s current territory status with a governing arrangement that U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

One of the little-noticed results of the Nov. 6 elections was a plebiscite held in Puerto Rico on the island’s relationship with the United States. The outcome was murky, much like the last century’s worth of political history between Washington and San Juan, and the mainland’s confused or disinterested attitude toward Puerto Rico that abetted it.

Ever since the United States invaded Puerto Rico in 1898 and then was handed the island by Spain as part of the settlement for the Spanish-American War, the island’s people — American citizens since the passage of the Jones Act in 1917 — have been continuously put in situations where they are simultaneously auditioning for statehood, agitating for independence, and making the very best of living in limbo.…  Seguir leyendo »

De Puerto Rico se conoce más en España su presente relación política con EE UU que su pasada relación como última colonia española en América. Las razones pueden ser muchas. Tal vez el mal recuerdo dejado por la Guerra Hispanoamericana de 1898 en el inconsciente español, tal vez la culpa que dejara el acto de rendir una cultura española en el Caribe a un nuevo invasor y a su cultura poderosa, tal vez la necesidad de olvidar una historia que requiere cierto nivel de responsabilidad compartida.

Tras 113 años de coloniaje norteamericano, la cultura española en Puerto Rico se conserva viva y en plena efervescencia.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last Friday night, a married couple entering their home in the town of Hatillo, Puerto Rico, was startled by two armed burglars. The husband was fatally shot, becoming the 1,000th murder victim of 2011. This was Puerto Rico’s highest annual homicide toll — until the record was surpassed the next day.

On average, someone is murdered every 7 1/2 hours in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory populated by 3.7 million American citizens. At least half of these murders involve drug trafficking organizations, whose growing presence has bred a culture of violence that emboldens criminals and threatens the lives of innocent people.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Barack Obama's blink-of-an-eye visit to Puerto Rico, the first by a sitting American president since John F. Kennedy in 1961, put the spotlight on the island for maybe 10 minutes, just about as long as his arrival speech promising economic help to the island and support for whatever course its residents decide on when it comes to whether or not to become the 51st state.

Brisk as it was, the president's trip had a triple purpose: one was to appeal to the growing number of Puerto Rican voters in the key presidential state of Florida and the burgeoning nationwide Hispanic population; two was to reaffirm his 2008 campaign promise that he would set up a mechanism for resolving the island's political status during his first term; and three was to raise money for the Democrats and his campaign.…  Seguir leyendo »