Our book reviews were slotted into the election week, so we have had to wait to report on the big elections news.
We may be at the end of our 50 star flag. Puerto Rico, to my great surprise, in a non-binding referendum, has decided that it would like to be the fifty-first state of the union.
Puerto Ricans opt for statehood in referendum
Associated Press, 7 September 2012 (hat tip: Balance via MR)
The two-part referendum asked whether the island wanted to change its 114-year relationship with the United States. Nearly 54 percent, or 922,374 people, sought to change it, while 46 percent, or 786,749 people, favored the status quo. Ninety-six percent of 1,643 precincts were reporting as of early Wednesday.
The second question asked voters to choose from three options, with statehood by far the favorite, garnering 61 percent. Sovereign free association, which would have allowed for more autonomy, received 33 percent, while independence got 5 percent.
I have worked down in Puerto Rico a couple of times as a contractor for FEMA. Very nice people.
For obvious reasons, some Puerto Ricans have always wanted their own country. But being a "Commonwealth" (in name if not reality) allows them to lower their taxes, while still receiving some of the welfare benefits of being U.S. citizens. Being relatively poor compared to other States (but not to the rest of Latin America) that is important. But obviously, not having any representation in congress limits their influence and participation within the country.
It should be noted, that the Puerto Ricans have a major difference from other Spanish speaking people in our country. Most of them did not emigrate. The United States took the island from Spain after the Spanish American War. So they are not immigrants in the usual fashion. More Puerto Ricans live on the mainland United States than on the island, and as citizens of our country, they can vote and participate with everyone else.
While most Puerto Ricans are Democrats. The islands Republican-like party does win island wide elections as is a major presence.
So maybe we need to think about where we should but an additional star on our flag.