Following the deadliest natural disaster to hit the US in more than a century, Puerto Rico’s representative in Congress, Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón, continues her appeal for Puerto Rico to be officially be made a US State.
Puerto Rico’s territorial status has been called into question by Puerto Ricans since the US annexe of it in 1898, making one of the Puerto Rican government main political issues for over a century.
Since the 1960’s political leaders have requested a clear line of division on where Puerto Rico stands in regard to being awarded Statehood, whilst it is on US soil, Puerto Rico is exempt from voting in US elections and as such is not awarded the same rights as a province awarded official statehood.
Congress, Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón issues a new house bill requesting Puerto Rico’s statehood, following Hurricane Maria last summer. Following the submission of the bill which is being deemed the Puerto Rico Admissions Act of 2018, González-Colón stated: “The catastrophe left behind by Hurricanes Irma and María unmasked the reality of the unequal treatment of the American living in Puerto Rico.” The category 4 hurricane was recorded to have produced the largest blackout in US history, leaving more than 3 million US citizens with no power, food, or water for days.
As it stands Puerto Rico is a Quasi-state, meaning it has an independent elected local government, without real representation in Congress. In fact following the disaster, despite the Trump administration claiming they did an ‘amazing job’ in a press conference when asked about the handling of the crisis, the president failed to visit the island until three weeks after the incident. At which point, the administration had dramatically downplayed the severity of the impact upon Puerto Rico’s infrastructure. The Administration’s handling of the disaster pushed Puerto Ricans to deem the severity of their conditions a humanitarian crisis.
Whilst the Government of Puerto Rico attempted to get employees back to work it took almost a year to reconnect everyone to the power grid. For a year Puerto Rico has not known the truth following the hit of Hurricane Maria. Following a report published earlier this year by researchers at George Washington University, the estimated death count of 16, is estimated at 3,000.
If the statehood bill is passed, the Puerto Rico admissions act would ensure it’s transition into statehood by 2021. For a political issue being fought for over a century, it seems Puerto Rico’s ongoing fight for their US rights, may soon be coming to an end.