Sorry for the long post...but I thought people might be interested...
I work with a couple of Puerto Rican's (both are 1st generation Americans, but 1 of them moved back and lived in PR for several years in her teens, and then came back to the U.S). I had a pretty long conversation with them about this today. They both follow U.S. politics closely, and are somewhat active in local government/campaigns, and both would hate to see PR become a state. For them to be active in our politics and believe in our democratic process, I was very taken back by how passionate they were that PR should not become a state.
My first reaction was that they were being hypocrites...how could they be passionate about our democratic process and be so opposed to the "democracy in action" that could be seen with PR voting for statehood? But, the more I talked to them, the more I realized that they have very legitimate concerns and both PR and the US might be better off with them not becoming a state. They say that most Puerto Rican's that voted yes just want to become a state because they think they will get more money/benefits, and the majority of the people there don't realize (actually aren't educated enough to understand, or are too ignorant to understand) that the grass isn't necessarily greener. It’s hard for me to even say that, because the part about lack of education and ignorance sounds so racist, but I feel a little more comfortable because I’m only repeating something said by people that are exponentially more connected to that society than I could ever be. I’ll also mention that those statements were not easily said…it literally brought them to tears to talk about the lack of education and ignorance that is so prevalent, but it is extremely relevant to their position. They say that none of the people in PR would be agreeable to our tax laws (all of them…the Federal, State, and Local levels) and so much more about American society and law. Also that the people in PR don’t understand the amount of taxing that is necessarily to support the social programs that U.S. citizens benefit from, and the rest of the things that many Americans take for granted (Roads/Infrastructure, education, etc). From my coworkers’ perspectives, all that the people in PR see is that when their friends and relatives move to the U.S., they don’t move back, so they think it must be better than what they have already.
The other side to their opinion is that they’re very concerned about their “homeland” losing its identity. They don’t want PR to become more Americanized than it already is. Just as one example, they don’t want to see English become the language that is taught in school. They don’t want to see a massive influx of Americans purchasing property there and “ruining the neighborhood” (for lack of a better term)…and there’s a very good chance that would happen if it was a state. It could quickly become “my vacation home in Puerto Rico” instead of “my vacation home in Florida”.
Still, after the conversation that I had with them, I’m torn on how I feel about it. After looking into the questions on the ballot and how it was answered, I’m not convinced that the majority of PR wants to become a state. If the majority of them actually do, then that’s what democracy is supposed to be about and at my core I want to support it. But if the majority of them vote yes to become a state, but don’t understand the full repercussions (potentially good or bad in comparison to life as they know it now) of becoming a state, then that makes me feel much less comfortable with them making the decision and our government allowing it.
I’m very curious to see how this plays out. Having coworkers/friends that are so passionate about it makes it very interesting to me. And I think it’s much more interesting that my two coworkers of Puerto Rican heritage are both living in and enjoying life in the U.S., but still feel so strongly that P.R. would be better off not becoming a state.
Last edited by seepy83; 11-08-2012 at 08:31 PM.