Addressing The Issue of Puerto Rico Statehood

Less than a week ago I was getting chicken at a local establishment and saw on a television how Puerto Rico is pushing for US statehood strongly in the next administration. My immediate reaction was to say aloud, “well why not give the Bahamas statehood – huh?” I was trying to be humorous in a sense, but the subject is quite interesting. Perhaps more to me considering I attempted to give up my US citizenship in the Bahamas just a few years back.

Believe it or not, there is a lot to be learned about Caribbean culture and how it relates to modern “Race Relations,” as well as issues between both the United States, Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and other island nations when we talk about the issue of US statehood. Anyone who knows Caribbean culture knows that those islands were built by a European invasion, genocide of native populations, a coordinated colonization effort and then the arrival of African slaves for farming. Today native Africans make up over 80% of the population of the Bahamas for example, and even higher in other Caribbean nations such as Haiti. Every citizen there today knows full well why they were born there in the first place; because their ancestors were shipped and forced into slavery there in the past.

But you know what? People are not mad about this history in the Bahamas like they are here in the United States, they are at peace with it. “Blacks” are not rioting on the streets of Nassau complaining about discrimination like the descendants of African slaves do here in the United States. And do you know why? Because the Government of the Bahamas is run by the same descendants of those slaves. The Government therefore is representative of the people. This is something black slave descendants in the United States can not say by comparison, and only very recently have the native people of these countries been in control of their own sovereign countries – some more successful than others.The Bahamas, for example, is the 3rd richest country in North America out of 23 – behind the US and Canada.

This is also why the Bahamas is not begging for statehood like Puerto Rico, and took it a step further by annexing themselves from British control in 1973 – with no army at that. That is the exact opposite of what Puerto Rico has wanted to do and I think the whole dynamic is interesting when we talk about cultures and geo-political perspectives/relations – even in seemingly over looked territories such as the Caribbean.

But truth be told, I am actually writing this article because I just read about Ulysses S. Grant tonight – in terms of his time in office as President. I read about how he was the first person in the United States Government to attempt to make the Dominican Republic a US State back in the mid-1800’s. Believe it or not, incorporating the Dominican Republic was part of his Federal reconstruction effort/agenda following the conclusion of the Civil War. I thought it was quite strange to read about this history, just a few days after hearing about the Puerto Rican statehood debate on New York news networks. I write this because think there is something we can learn about the policy of Grant’s Government that we can apply to the United States situation today – such as why his expansion policy originally failed or was rejected.

The fact of the matter is that the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico can’t be US states, because they are their own countries – literally, and have been for a long time.The people there do not “identify” as Americans and never will. Even Puerto Rican and Dominican immigrants born here in the United States don’t even call themselves American in public, they still call themselves Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Domincans, etc – and hang those flags. This is why US statehood for these countries would always be doomed to fail, because the people there would never accept American culture. Just like Arabs in the Middle East do not embrace or reflect American culture, even after our friendly Wars and invasions, neither does the Caribbean.

I don’t even think people in Puerto Rico want to be considered “Americans,” they simply just want access to the American economy and American resources; a better quality of life. From the US’s perspective, they just want to exploit the country/lands potential for resources – like all colonizers throughout time.

It also probably doesn’t bode well for the future prospects of the Puerto Rican Government. The majority of your countrymen just voted to break away from your Government to join the United States? Might as well just resign at that point if you are the President of Puerto Rico. That is a very bad sign for the people and stability of that country.

Rounding this article out full circle, Caribbean Nations only exist because of colonization in the first place, and many have moved on to break off an form their own countries/governments. I see this movement of Puerto Rican statehood as a sign of giant weakness for the nation; desperation. It is a situation which will only burden the United States Government more than it already is, for all the same reason Puerto Rico is failing. I see it as a way of Puerto Rican leadership to absolve themselves of their current problems and their inability to find adequate solutions, which should worry the people of Puerto Rico. I think US statehood would be a step backwards in the history of Puerto Rico or any Caribbean nation for that matter, essentially admitting self-defeat by asking to be colonized a second time.