Ralph Benko

Should Puerto Rico explore following Crimea into the Russian Federation?

Puerto Rico’s biggest problem in dealing with Washington is of the same nature as that increasingly shared by too many Americans. We citizens much too often find ourselves in the position of supplicants to Washington rather than, at minimum, as dignified peers. Might there be a way to change this?

Puerto Rico is in the terribly awkward position of territorial status. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens. Yet they are not entitled to vote for president. They have a “resident commissioner” to, not a full Member of, Congress. They have no Senators.

Some prominent Puerto Rican leaders are advocating recognition of Puerto Rico as America’s 51st State, with full dignity. Congress recently appropriated, and President Obama approved, $2.5 million to fund a referendum by Puerto Rico on whether its people wish for statehood.

Heritage Foundation acidly criticized this appropriation. “There is no reason for the American taxpayers to spend any money on another plebiscite — if the Puerto Rican government wants to do so, why doesn’t it do it on its own dime?”

Heritage might have a point, although not for its stated reason (of producing a one time saving of … a little less than a penny per American). Rather, Puerto Rico should think hard about accepting this money if it might involve strings that would put it at a disadvantage to Washington. How might that happen? For example, legislation pending in the Senate would confine the plebiscite to a yes or no on statehood (with no commitment by the United States to offer that).

If by taking the money Puerto Rico could be surrendering its trump card, it should decline the funding. What trump card might that be?

There is something out there that really would snap Puerto Rico out of supplicant status and command Washington’s attention. It might actively consider affiliation with a sovereign entity other than the United States.

Such as Russia.

Ralph Benko

Ralph Benko, author of The Websters’ Dictionary: How to use the Web to transform the world. He serves as an advisor to and editor of the Lehrman Institute's thegoldstandardnow.org and senior advisor to the American Principles Project.

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