Brevard County Elbows its Way into Puerto Rico Status Debate

Brevard County wants to get in on the Puerto Rico status debate. County Commissioner John Tobia, representing District 3, has proposed a resolution to send a message to Congress to reject statehood for Puerto Rico, as if the island were anywhere near to obtaining the 51st star.

John Tobia

But there it is on the county agenda for the July 11 commission meeting – “Resolution, Re: Requesting the United States Congress to Refrain from Extending Statehood to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (District 3)” – squeezed between a resolution to proclaim July as parks and recreation month and another to recognize a judge on his retirement from the bench.

Tobia, a former Republican state legislator representing Distrct 31 and later District 53, certainly has the right to make the resolution and ask Brevard County to take a stand – ahora!! – before we run out of stars and stripes.

No statehood for Puerto Rico! Too much debt! Too much “socialization [sic] by the government of Puerto Rico.” Stop “socializing” already!

But the resolution (see below) is thoroughly out of place for Brevard, population 554,000, about 10 percent Hispanic, nearly half  Puerto Rican. As things go, however, it’s not a bad way to generate a little attention and publicity. Whether or not Tobia’s resolution is approved, he may be on his way to getting a star of his own.

On late Tuesday afternoon, the television cameras will storm into Brevard not for another boring story about crime in Titusville but for a story about little Brevard County taking on the big, fat, complicated issue of Puerto Rico’s political status.That’s some heavy lifting. Let’s hope Tobia doesn’t break his back.

For on the issue of Puerto Rico’s political status, Tobia is out of his depth. The 117-year relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States is way too complex for most statesiders, who need to be schooled time and again and are shamelessly unembarrassed about it.

Here’s the dirty truth: Congress doesn’t want to engage in Puerto Rico’s status issue, so Tobia is talking up the wrong issue. Only Puerto Ricans care about this. Hardly anyone else does.

In the year 2525, when Congress finally gets around to addressing the island’s political status, the world no longer will remember that Brevard County took an early stand.

Some advice: Get out of the Puerto Rico political status debate while you can. Parks and recreation and mosquito abatement hang in the balance.

˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor







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