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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Puerto Rico?

What is Puerto Rico? That's a question more than a few people in the United States seem to ask. This article - State, nation, other: Puerto Rico tries to decide - highlights some of the challenges Puerto Ricans face.

Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States since 1898 and the Spanish-American War. Puerto Rican government looks familiar in several ways, including:
  • People born in Puerto Rico are US citizens
  • The US President is the head of state in Puerto Rico
  • Congress delegates powers to Puerto Rico
  • Within Puerto Rico, the island is led by a Governor, a Legislative Assembly and a court system (in some ways this is like our state government)
  • At the local level, Puerto Ricans elect mayors to lead cities and towns
While residing in Puerto Rico, Puerto Ricans can vote in presidential primaries but not in the general election for president. (Puerto Ricans who become residents of a US state can vote for president.) Puerto Ricans elect and are represented by a non-voting delegate to Congress.

Puerto Ricans have pursued US statehood three times, with residents voting it down each time. According to news reports, the issue may come up again in 2011. The pro-statehood movement, hopes to hold another vote.

Questions to think about
  • Where is Puerto Rico? Is it close to US mainland? Does this matter?
  • If you lived in Puerto Rico, would you be interested in the island becoming a US state? Why or why not?
  • What are some challenges and opportunities Puerto Rico has that are similar or different to North Carolina?
  • If you were a Puerto Rican leader, how would you encourage the residents to support your views about statehood or independence?
  • How would you work with US leaders? Media?
Learn more about Puerto Rico