Rubio on Puerto Rican Status Question: 50% + 1 Won’t Equal Mandate for Statehood
April 23, 2012 by Julito Varela
Good to see Florida Senator Marco Rubio commenting about the upcoming November plebiscite question in Puerto Rico. Sure, Rubio, who is of Cuban American descent, represents the state of Florida, which has seen an increase in voters of Puerto Rican descent the last few years, so it makes sense that he would weigh on the island’s non-binding vote to determine its political identity (statehood, independence or enhanced commonwealth).
However, Rubio’s opinion reflects what most of the US Congress and President Obama is saying: the final decision by Puerto Ricans on the island has to be a clear majority, whatever that means. Just for reference, the 1958 statehood vote by Alaska won by a 6 to 1 margin, although only about 46,000 voted in Alaska. In 1959, Hawaii gained a 94% voted for statehood. Ironically, the one person who is pushing for a binding resolution of the status question is GOP front-runner Mitt Romney.
- Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a rising star in the Republican Party and potential vice presidential pick, has broken ranks with GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney over the issue off Puerto Rico statehood.
- Rubio said in an interview that 50 percent plus one vote in a status plebiscite isn’t enough to put Puerto Rico on the path to become the 51st state.
- “It doesn’t have to be 100 percent, nor 90 percent, but it cannot be, to say a figure, 51 percent of the votes,” Rubio reportedly told a local newspaper.
- That puts the Cuban-American lawmaker, often mentioned as a vice presidential running mate for Romney, at odds with the former Massachusetts governor on statehood.
The position taken by Rubio, a Tea Party favorite, actually puts him on the same page as Democratic President Barack Obama when it comes to statehood for Puerto Rico.
Right now, polls on the island show a virtual dead heat between enhanced commonwealth and statehood. It is highly doubtful that either option enters Hawaii or Alaska numbers, and in the end, the US Congress will still have final say. So, after 114 years of a complex (and colonial) relationship with the United States, Puerto Rico looks like it will still be stuck in the status quo.
One thing all Puerto Ricans, both on the island and the mainland, should agree on is that the upcoming plebiscite needs to be BINDING.
If you agree, let your elected officials know by visiting their official Congressional pages.