Floridians will reap economic and political benefits of Puerto Rico statehood

by | Mar 22, 2021



Ludivina Lopez

Florida has seen a booming Puerto Rican population over the past few years. One thing bringing Puerto Ricans to the state rapidly is people seeking economic opportunities that they cannot currently find on the island.

An easy fix to promote economic growth in Puerto Rico is for Congress to act on the democratic will of the Puerto Rican people and make the island the 51st state.

With the Puerto Rico Statehood Admissions Act, our elected officials, like Representative Dan Webster, can encourage economic development on the island – which in turn will benefit Florida – while also supporting a political position that will help move the state toward the economic and social center-right.

In November, Puerto Rico had a question on their general election ballot that asked voters if they wanted Puerto Rico to be admitted into the Union as a state. The majority, 52.34%, said “Yes” to statehood of the island. This was the third such vote on Puerto Rico’s status that has taken place on the island since 2012. In each previous election, statehood earned the most support of any status option. But in order for Puerto Rico to become a state, it takes an act of Congress.

The economic benefits from territories becoming states are well documented throughout American history. Our latest entries into the Union, Alaska and Hawaii, realized the positive economic benefits of statehood quickly.

Time magazine detailed how Hawaii underwent “immediate and radical change, largely in the form of unprecedented economic growth.” Hawaii saw a rapid increase in tourism and also saw an expansion of industries on the island and a diversification of their agricultural sector.

In Alaska, wages and disposable income grew across all jobs and professions, and according to Alaskan Department of Labor and Workforce Development, by the end of the 1970s, Alaska’s “near complete dependence on the federal government and outside corporate interests had diminished dramatically.”

The point regarding dependence on the federal government is critical. Many have pointed to Puerto Rico’s current debt crisis as a reason to oppose statehood. But the United States already sends billions in aid to the island. And history shows that statehood could solve Puerto Rico’s existing debt crisis. Along with stability, statehood would bring more tourism, more companies, and better jobs to the island, allowing the Puerto Rican government to collect more tax revenue and finally address their debt.

More consumers with better-paying jobs on the island is also good for Florida. It would help Puerto Ricans be able to afford to purchase more goods and services from the mainland – with Florida being the most obvious and immediate beneficiary, and make it more likely they will come and visit one of the many tourist attractions in the state.

Outside of the economic benefits, there are political reasons to support statehood, which has been a part of the Republican platform for decades. One major reason: many Puerto Rican voters are social conservatives and lean center-right on economic issues. Puerto Rico’s current elected representative in Congress, Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon, caucuses with Republicans. Puerto Ricans as a whole are swing voters, much like Floridians.

Statehood for Puerto Rico would be an instant hit in Florida, where over one million Puerto Ricans have settled. In what seems like a rare occurrence in politics these days, statehood for Puerto Rico is the right thing to do politically and economically.

Ludivina López is the pastor of the multicultural and bilingual Senda Church in Tavares. She resides in Leesburg, Florida.

3 Comments

  1. Geoffrey Timm

    Just what the US of A DOES NOT NEED! Another totally corrupt, Democrat crime ridden hell hole for a US state. PR should have been “Freed” from US Control a long time ago. The taxpayers will benefit from not throwing money away, lining the pockets of corrupt politicians and other criminals.

    Reply
  2. Roberto Antonio

    Nobody leaves their homeland permanently to go live in another country unless the economic conditions prevent people from making a decent living where they can provide for their families.

    Puerto Rico has been a US Colonial Possession (property) since 1898. For over 123 years the United States has controlled Puerto Rico, resulting in nearly half of the Islands population forced to live the American Dream in Poverty.

    The US government should be ashamed of themselves and charged with criminal misconduct towards the people of PR and the other four Colonial Possessions, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. American Islands that look like 3rd World countries full of poverty and with plenty of Military Real estate and hardware.

    US policies towards PR have always been designed to benefit the US mainland first (Jones Act), policies that have prevented PR from ever achieving Economic Prosperity.

    There are 3.4 million supposedly US Citizens living in PR, making the Island larger than 22 current States, yet PR receives only a fraction of what the poorest State (MS) in the Union receives in Federal Funding. It’s no wonder why so many Puerto Ricans have been forced to migrate to the US mainland.

    Statehood supporters have been conditioned into believing the only true solution to all of PRs problems is to become the 51st State, when in fact they would only be asking the very same people (US) who at the root cause to all of PRs Colonial problems for a quick fix. That’s like asking your executioner for a cure, I’d say that’s Bad idea!

    The people of Puerto Rico are starting to wake up to the truth. Puerto Rico needs to stop sucking on lady liberty’s nipple and start believing in it’s own ability to self govern. Puerto Ricans are Not North American’s, PR is part of the fabric of Latin America. They have their own Language (Spanish), Culture, History, Traditions, Customs, Heritage, Holidays, Flag, National Anthem and Olympic Team. Everything that identifies Puerto Ricans as a Nationality. PR is better served as a Sovereign and Independent Nation controlling it’s own destiny on equal footing among all nations from around the world.

    All Puerto Ricans should look deeply into the Native Hawaiian experience post 62 years under Statehood. Today Hawaiians are a minority in their own country (illegally annexed by the US in 1898), number one living in homelessness and in poverty, many Hawaiians lost ancestral homes as a result of Statehood, they are number one in being incarcerated, their homeland has become unaffordable to Native Hawaiians, today Hawaiians can barely Speak, Read or Write in their native tongue. Statehood turned Hawaii into an unaffordable playground for rich White, Chinese and Japanese people. Hawaiians find themselves today in a struggle to regain their Kingdoms Sovereignty and Independence back from the United States.

    Statehood has never benefited the Native American, Native Alaskan, Native Hawaiian and people of color. In fact no former US Territory was ever granted Statehood untill it was over populated by White Anglo American’s, and Puerto Rico is nowhere close to that happening, but Gentrification is real. All you need to do is look at what is happening on the Island of Viequez!

    Colonialism is Slavery, Free Puerto Rico 🇵🇷 Libre!

    Reply
  3. Roberto Antonio

    How is the US Congress supposed to act on the will of the people, when only 2% above half of the Islands population voted in favor of Statehood? Congress will not ignore the 48% of the population who clearly Rejected Statehood, proving that Puerto Rico is still divided on the issue of Status. You cannot simplify the issue, you’re talking about one nation becoming part of another. This needs to be a landslide decision made by the Puerto Rican people. You can’t just join the Union today and decide to leave tomorrow.

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Geoffrey Timm Cancel reply

%d bloggers like this: