Puerto Rico's Moment in the Sun

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Who would have thought that Puerto Rico would play such a key role in the Presidential race? In anticipation of this Sunday's Democratic primary, Juan Manuel Garcia Pasalacua, journalist and talk show host at WUNO San Juan, and Angelo Falcon, professor at Columbia and President of the National Institute for Latino Policy, look at complex political relationship Puerto Rico and its citizens have with the U.S. and New York.


Angelo Falcon

Comments [40]

Jon Smith from harrisburg,PA

Let Puerto Rico be independent country, Great Britain let Hong Kong back to China in 1997. The US spaks different language,different culture, different heritage than Puerto Rico. If the flag waving Puerto Ricans love their territory so much go back and be an independent country, Stop freeloading off of the US government system.Did Chinese people in Hong Kong cry when Great Britain's lease for Hong Kong was up? NO.Did they cry for welfare,free medical insurance,food stamps. No get a life free loaders.Stop whining,get a job support your families.

Jul. 21 2008 06:35 AM
Raymond Forsch

Cut'em loose

May. 30 2008 10:52 AM
Mike from NYC

I'm really amazed that Brian didn't find out more about the status of Puerto Ricans before he had this segment. Or is this an extention of his 'educate the stupid white boy' series?

May. 30 2008 01:58 AM
Mike from NYC

J.T.states: "I find this new trend not to call the people of the USA Americans hilarious. Whether you're talking about the country or the continent, they're both made up names for places that existed loooong before they were discovered by Euros. for the ! So is one really better than the other? Hey, maybe a more accurate name would be the Land Masses of the Western Hemipshere!"

J.T. - West of where, you Euro-centrist? ;)

May. 30 2008 01:40 AM
Mike from NYC

The Puerto Ricans overwhelmingly vote (85-90%)to remain a territory with the remainder being split between statehood and independence. They do not pay income tax yet are free to come and go. Puerto Ricans who live in Puerto Rico are eligible for federal anti-poverty programs. They live in the equivalent of a NYS empire zone where there are business tax incentives to establish a business and trade with the US. The guest speaker is correct; there is a lot of poverty in Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans are basically welfare bums. Let me speculate that most non-Puerto Ricans in the US would vote to give Puerto Ricans their independence. I would, too. So is Puerto Rico a Colony as the guest speaker suggests? What other 'colonized' people in the world rejects its own independence while the 'colonizers' would like them to have it? In fact, colonize me!! If I could get out of paying income tax, I would give up my inconsequential right to vote.

May. 30 2008 01:38 AM

Who cares about the PR primary. The race is over why can't this show get this?

May. 29 2008 08:57 PM

more time well spent

May. 29 2008 04:36 PM
hjs from 11211

good point
i would just say 'the west,' but this is going to take a lot of reeducation.

May. 29 2008 02:46 PM
J.T. from NYC

I find this new trend not to call the people of the USA Americans hilarious. Whether you're talking about the country or the continent, they're both made up names for places that existed loooong before they were discovered by Euros. for the ! So is one really better than the other? Hey, maybe a more accurate name would be the Land Masses of the Western Hemipshere!

May. 29 2008 01:23 PM
hjs from 11211

i perfer to use unitedstaters for USA citzens
and americans for north and south americans

May. 29 2008 12:04 PM
Snoop from Brooklyn

#28- Nitpicking over names (I think pretty much the entire world calls US nationals "Americans" and the USA "America") doesn't change the fact that if Puerto Ricans don't like being Americans (to clarify, US citizens), they can ask to leave America (to clarify, the USA).

If you can come up with a better name for US citizens than Americans, feel free. While you are at it, coming up with a new name for Latinos and Latin America (since they don't speak latin) would be useful too.

May. 29 2008 11:48 AM
Conrad from New York

I concur with John. All people in US Territories (American Samoa, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Island, Guam and Northern Marianas) are US Citizens except American Samoa. They do not vote in Federal elections because of their "Territorial Status." And the US is an Empire with colonial possesions, like it or not. In addition, Puerto Ricans' decision concerning their political status has to be approved by the Federal Government.

May. 29 2008 11:04 AM
MoNYC from Sunnyside, NYC

#26- If Puerto Ricans do not like being "American" then they'd have to leave the entire hemisphere, otherwise known as "The Americas."

May. 29 2008 10:50 AM
John from UpState NY

There are 3 categories:
They are all similiar, with some differences. Those born there are US Citezens, with the execption of American Samoa. They are US Nationals with US Passports. All others are US Citizens with US Passports.
The reason why these citizens can not vote for a US President is that people do not vote for President, States do. In other words, citizens of States go to their polls to tell their State who to vote for (Electoral College). The only exception is the Federal District of Columbia we call Washington DC which was only given that right in the early 60s when the US Constitution was amended.

May. 29 2008 10:44 AM
Snoop from Brooklyn

Wow, listening to these two guys talk about PR like it some sort of abused spouse of the big mean US is kinda sad. Puerto Rico is not a victim of a horrible empire.

Puerto Ricans, if they choose to do so, can present their opinion on what they want to be (commonwealth, state, independent) to the US Congress. Only after they do so can they start whining (and that is what the guests on today's show were doing... whining) if they are ignored.

Sheesh... the guests make it seem as though growing up American citizens is some sort of tragedy. Grow up and take some control over your political destinies if you don't like being American.

May. 29 2008 10:38 AM
hjs from 11211


the super delegates are allowed to vote for whom they wish. they are not bound to other voters. if you don't like that then you should get the rules changed for the NEXT TIME. but those are the rules for this time.

May. 29 2008 10:37 AM
Eric from B'klyn

Dear Brian et al,

Hmmm... there's that "Is the US an empire?" question again. the situation of PR status opens an interesting window on the matter. I hope that you will revisit this question.

May. 29 2008 10:35 AM
mc from Brooklyn

I was in PR quite a while ago and this statehood vs. commonwealth issue wasn't quite as hot as it is now. I think they need to figure it out among themselves and then present it to the Congress. The independence movement is quite a bit smaller. When I was there, many Dominicans were paying Puerto Ricans to marry them so they could get US green cards.

RA, I am more and more skeptical of MSNBC. I didn't see that report but they seem to be positioning themselves as the Fox of the left.

May. 29 2008 10:32 AM
Robert from brooklyn

Guamanians are not required to be nationalized in order to vote in the US. They are US citizens with US passports. I was born in Guam and I am automatically able to vote now that I live in New York.

May. 29 2008 10:31 AM
Sarah from Manhattan

Your guests are also failing to acknowledge that Puerto Rican's don't vote for independence because they would lose their benefits (medicaid, welfare, etc)

I'm no social conservative, but I'm tired of Puerto Ricans trying to have it both ways...

If they really wanted statehood or independence they would push for it, and propel a movement in the US Congress to force one option or the other.

The fact that this issue languishes is not merely the fault of the "invaders"... it is also do to Puerto Rican ambivalence...

May. 29 2008 10:30 AM
Darius from brooklyn

When a good friend of mine moved to PR several years ago and he realized he was very ignorant about the history of colonization and that there had been several attempted presidential assassinations by Puerto Ricans in the past.

May. 29 2008 10:29 AM
Arleen OConnor from lake hopatcong, new jersey

regarding the question, what to do about Puerto Rico. wasn't there a vote as to whether or not Puerto Rico wanted to become a state? The result of the vote was NO.

May. 29 2008 10:29 AM
Prof. Christopher Reiss from China

The comment was if they vote in PR their opinion poll doesn't determine the outcome of whether or not they become a state. That is the same for all Americans. We vote and the electoral college or the Supreme Court decides who wins. This might happen with the super delegates etc instead of the popular vote in the democratic situation soon.

May. 29 2008 10:29 AM
scnex from harlem

these are the concepts that which devise loopholes for the corrupt; it is interesting that when the issues are presented, and the subjects that are interviewed are united in the definition for corruption of the mainstream preview, thus when the nature of the corruption is exposed little action from the media seems to support the overall issues...

May. 29 2008 10:28 AM
Robert from NYC

Old enough to die, vote and pay taxes like the rest of those who died fighting in a war. Where did you find these guys!

May. 29 2008 10:28 AM

has PR voted on its independence and "declared" its independence as a country?

if so then it is sinful and arguably illegal to keep any ties to PR against its will -- in fact freedom loving americans must rise up and give PR its god given freedom.

if not then blah blah

May. 29 2008 10:27 AM
sara from nyc

It should be clarified that Puerto Rican residing in the states DO get to vote in the primaries and general elections of their state (and also pay fed,state and local taxes). They do not get to vote in elections back on the island, just as a Texan relocated to California does not get to vote in Texas elections..

May. 29 2008 10:26 AM
Darius from brooklyn

Aren't PR troops the first to deploy in wartime?

May. 29 2008 10:26 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

I'm not sure if this is correct, but isn't Puerto Rico a semi-independent commonwealth? So it’s a protectorate under the auspices of the United States, but with a certain degree of freedom from US rule?
If Puerto Rico is more or less the US, then why do Puerto Rician fly the flag of Puerto Rico over the US flag?

May. 29 2008 10:25 AM
RCTB from Westchester

My husband and I spent 10 days in Puerto Rico 4 years ago and made a point of talking to Puerto Ricans about Puerto Rico's territorial status. Most of the people to whom we spoke felt that it was in Puerto Rico's economic interests not to become a state. They said that, as residents of a territory, they did not pay federal income taxes. Nonetheless, according to those Puerto Ricans to whom we spoke, they enjoyed the economic benefits of citizenship, including investment by "mainland" companies, including pharmaceuticals. So that's what they said . . . who am I to argue?

May. 29 2008 10:25 AM
RA from CT

MSNBC had a story yesterday from the AP that said that campaign events were lightly attended and islanders were not that interested in the primary.

May. 29 2008 10:22 AM
Robert from NYC

Grab grab grab grab grab!

May. 29 2008 10:22 AM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

So the US government is supposed to determine what to do with Puerto Rico and then "let [the Puerto Ricans] know"? If we decided to make PR a state or cut it loose as an independent country, would the people of the island be happy about having absolutely no say in the decision? I doubt it.

May. 29 2008 10:22 AM
Larry from Queens

US citizens from Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands cannot vote for US president if they are residents of those territories. However, if they are resident in one of the states or DC (to be so all they have to do is move) they can vote for US president.

May. 29 2008 10:20 AM
Manuel Figueroa from Clifton

Since Puerto Rico is a colony, do you think the primaries are legitimate, and if not should Puerto Ricans simply boycott the elections?

May. 29 2008 10:19 AM
Cory from Manhattan

Second class citizens? They don't pay federal taxes. That's the trade off.

May. 29 2008 10:19 AM
Tony from San Jose, CA

But Puerto Ricans do not pay federal income tax. And the commonwealth refused to become of a State.

May. 29 2008 10:19 AM
Rob from Brooklyn

Mr. Pasalacua has unfortunately swallowed the Clinton campaign argument hook, line, and sinker. He says that Puerto Rice will determine the Democratic nominee. But the fact is that Sen. Clinton will win Puerto Rico, probably handily, and Obama will still win the nomination.

May. 29 2008 10:18 AM
Zack from New York

Interestingly enough, if Puerto Ricans "are" US citizens, than why aren't they allowed to vote in the general election?

May. 29 2008 10:17 AM
Tony from San Jose, CA

I thought Puerto Ricans were US Nationals, not US Citizens. As soon as they move to the continental US, they become citizens. Is that right?

May. 29 2008 10:13 AM

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