Puerto Rico Independence?

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To argue on Puerto Rican Independence, Commonwealth, or Statehood, we must first learn of the history of Puerto Rico. Growing up I was very ignorant about Puerto Rico. It wasn't till I was in the Navy and got stationed in Puerto Rico did I really find out the small Caribbean island. Although Puerto Rico has an extensive history, I will only give a brief synopsis of it: In November 1493 Christopher Columbus discovered the island of Puerto Rico for the country of Spain. It remained a colonization of Spain until 1898 when Spain ceded the island to the United States after the Spanish-American war. In 1917 Puerto Rican's became U.S. Citizens, but only 24% consider themselves as American (2000 census). Puerto Rico was also granted its own government and constitution, however, it had to be approved by the U.S. congress. Also Puerto Rico must obey our federal laws. In 1952 Puerto Rico became a "Commonwealth" associated with the United States. Puerto Rico does not pay any federal income tax and yet still receive federal benefits. To make for this, they cannot vote in presidential elections and have no voting representation in congress. Puerto Rican Statehood has been a hot issue for several years. Currently, there are three views on this issue: Statehood (New Progressive Party or NPP), Commonwealth (Popular Democratic Party or PDP) and Independence (Puerto Rican Independence Party or PIP). In this report, I hope to show each view clearly and back it up with documentation. VIEW OF STATEHOOD

Statehood supporters "see the United States as a union of 50 sovereign states united to give their citizens the best opportunity to succeed in life. "They believe that Puerto Rico is in a unique position to join this union and partake of the benefits, and responsibilities, of being an integral part of the United States of America. There are economic, social, and political advantages to becoming the 51st state." PROS OF STATEHOOD

In the economics of Puerto Rico, statehood has many pros. The first is that Puerto Rico will receive taxes from their citizens to build the infrastructure of the state. They will have an open market to trade with all nations that are in alliance with the U.S. With becoming a state, Puerto Rico will enjoy the benefits of America's high per capita income and low unemployment rates. "Puerto Rico's relationship with the United States has been directly responsible for Puerto Rico having one of the highest standard of living of Central, South America, and the Caribbean. However, the American citizens of Puerto Rico are still very far from attaining the same level of economic prosperity other American citizens enjoy in the other 50 states. Becoming a state would give Puerto Rico the opportunity of improving its economic situation." Politically, there are several advantages to becoming a state. The first is that Puerto Rico will have a voice in the Congress with at least seven represenatives and two senators. Currently, Puerto Rico only has a resident commissioner in Congress. He has a voice, but no vote. Puerto Rico has no electoral votes in the Presidential elections. Becoming a State would remove Puerto Rico form under the Territorial "claws" of the U.S. Constitution, and would put Puerto Rico on the same political footing as the other 50 states. This is the single most compelling argument for Puerto Rican statehood that Puerto Ricans have. CONS OF STATEHOOD

There are several economic reasons that can be argued against Puerto Rico becoming a state. First, the current unemployment rate is 11.7%, which would rank the highest in the nation. Puerto Rico has the lowest per capita income at around $7000, half of the poorest U.S. state (Mississippi). Thus it would cost the U.S. Government approximately 3-4 billion a year for 10 years to get Puerto Rico up to par with the other states. The 936 tax code, which grants U.S. companies federal tax exemptions for their operations in Puerto Rico, would also...
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