Democrats Get Behind Puerto Rico Statehood

The Florida Democratic Party approved a resolution in favor of statehood for Puerto Rico at its recently concluded bi-annual convention in Orlando.

“The Democratic Party of Florida supports the self-determination expressed by our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico in their quest to acquire equal rights by becoming a state of the United States,” the resolution stated. “The Democratic Party of Florida hereby calls upon our duly elected members of the U.S. Congress to support the admission of Puerto Rico as a state of the United States.”

The resolution comes a bit late for state Democrats since the Democratic National Party placed its blue stamp on Puerto Rico statehood two years ago, while the Republican National Committee did so in 2000.

Late President George H.W. Bush personally endorsed statehood for Puerto Rico, and had a close friendship with former Puerto Rico Gov. Luis A. Ferré, the late head of the modern statehood party.

However, the FDP is acknowledging the writing on the blue wall, which is that there are more Puerto Ricans in Florida than any other state, and they support statehood for Puerto Rico by a wide margin, and have done so for years.

This is not to say that Congress is ready to roll out the red carpet for statehood for Puerto Rico. Far from it.

Earlier this year, Orlando Congressman Darren Soto, along with Raúl Grijalva, chair of the House Natural Resources Committee that oversees Puerto Rico, and others backed a bill to make Puerto Rico a state in 90 days. We are still waiting. (Soto Outreach Director Vivian Rodríguez is co-chair of the FDP’s Resolution Committee. State Rep. Amy Mercado also is on the committee.)

At a U.S. Supreme Court hearing this week on the legitimacy of Puerto Rico’s unelected fiscal control board, the justices returned again and again to Congress’ constitutional power over Puerto Rico.

Attorney Jessica Méndez-Colberg, representing Puerto Rico’s electrical workers (UTIER), got no traction when she brought up the infamous Insular Cases decided by the Supreme Court nearly a century ago, which codified Puerto Rico’s second-class political status in racist language and attitudes.

“I just don’t see the pertinence of the insular cases,” Chief Justice John Roberts responded to Méndez-Colberg.

What is pertinent is the growing number of Puerto Ricans in Florida who are pro-statehood for Puerto Rico, and the implications for the upcoming presidential elections.

There are 1.3 million Floridians who are Puerto Ricans, with about 50,000 who moved to Florida in the months after Hurricane María alone.

An ALG Research poll of Puerto Ricans in Florida conducted earlier this year found that 77 percent support statehood. The poll was partly financed by pro-statehood backers, according to a story published in Politico.

Still, support for statehood was strong between Puerto Rican Democrats and Republicans, with GOPers showing a 10-point lead.

Which means that no matter the political party, there’s no more wiggle room on Puerto Rico’s political status, as far as Puerto Ricans in Florida are concerned.

Candidates who come-a-courting the Puerto Rican vote in Florida have to get behind statehood for Puerto Rico.

˜˜María Padilla, Editor

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