On May 13th, I arrived in Old San Juan carrying my petition comprised of 2,800 signatures; representing people form all around the world who agree that residents of Puerto Rico should be granted equal voting rights as American citizens. It took me less than one year to garner that amount of support (and then a couple of months to plan my trip!). Imagine what we could accomplish if we’d stop obsessing about only the status question for Puerto Rico.
I believe there’s room for those of us who are are passionate about empowering our fellow Boricuas via a campaign to demand that Congress debate a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Just like the 23rd Amendment added in the early 1960s for the benefit of non-state residents living in the District of Columbia, I believe the time has come to grant all the same rights and privileges to the legal American citizens claiming residency in Puerto Rico.
Their right to vote for their own Commander in Chief should not have ANYTHING to do with whether or not they pay federal taxes (as SO many ignorant people use as the #1 argument). It is estimated that 47% of U.S. citizens also DON’T pay their federal taxes but are not penalized by being banned from participating in our nations presidential election every four years. So, should we start mandating that a citizen cannot vote for President if they don’t pay their federal taxes?
Why then continue to disenfranchise the 2 million registered voters on the island – especially as the country now accepts that Hispanics are it’s largest minority group? I’ll tell you why. Because the U.S. Congress is afraid of the significant shift in power that would occur when Puerto Rico (if admitted as a state) would add 2 additional Senators and 4-6 Representatives.
Thus, I say, let’s take advantage of their fear and launch a two-prong approach to empowering the people of Puerto Rico. Let’s simultaneously advocate for equal voting rights at the SAME TIME that we continue to debate the status question. I ask you, what do we have to lose? Seriously, at this point – when Puerto Ricans have been treated as second class citizens for close to 100 years – let’s at least expand the discussion to include other strategies that can empower our people. NEWYORICANGIRL