What’s Preventing Puerto Rico From Becoming A U.S. State?
By Isha Thorpe
At the Skift Global Forum in New York City on Wednesday (Sept. 26), Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rosselló spoke about the potential of his country becoming a U.S. state, as well President Donald Trump’s lack of urgency in helping rebuild Puerto Rico after last year’s hurricane. According to Rosselló, Trump is also hesitant about making Puerto Rico, which is currently a U.S. territory, a state.
“The short of it, of course, is that he’s wrong,” Rosselló said at the forum. “We’re talking about U.S. citizens here. Prior to the storm, only about 20 percent of people in the mainland knew that Puerto Ricans were U.S. citizens. After the storm, more than 90 percent know that.”
The governor continued to hold nothing back when he discussed the opposition he’s faced with the U.S. government when he tried— and still tries—to rebuild Puerto Rico after last year’s devastation. Rosselló said that this back-and-forth stems from discrimination.
“I’m shocked and against the President’s statements; why should three million U.S. citizens have to pay for a personal difference he has with someone else?” the governor asked. “This is the biggest, most significant civil rights issue of this time. The U.S. is going all around the world and in the [United Nations] this last week saying that we are the standard bearer of democracy. How can we go to Cuba, Venezuela, Afghanistan and preach democracy when we’re not even doing back home? We have three million disenfranchised U.S. citizens… it is one of the last remnants of our colonial past that the world needs to eradicate.”
Rosselló added: “People started seeing the recovery, and they noticed that the recovery was different than in Florida and Texas. I’m asking everyone to put up or shut up… if you oppose Puerto Rico, then we will oppose you.”
Many Puerto Ricans are in favor of their country officially becoming a state. As Rosselló continues to help Puerto Rico recover, he’s urging travelers to visit. Only 6.5% of Puerto Rico’s economy comes from tourism and the governor thinks that he can increase that rate.
“I hope you take this as an invitation to come to Puerto Rico, to see the opportunities … to be part of this strong rebuild,” he said.