Monday, January 23, 2012

Puerto Rico: A Conservative Eden

Monday 23 of January 2012
Edwin R. Jusino

Official seal of the Puerto Rican Republican Party
When talking to conservatives in the mainland, I come across very wild statements and views about Puerto Ricans. Once I begin to talk to them, they begin to realize that Puerto Ricans in the island of Puerto Rico are very different to those living in the mainland. Puerto Ricans are, for the most part, conservatives by nature.

The majority of the islands population claims to profess the Christian faith, although the majority of islanders are catholic by tradition. There are many islanders who are members of an ever growing protestant movement. I personally I’m an evangelical Christian. 

It is due to this, that many Puerto Ricans are conservative in most social topics. Faith is so important in Puerto Rico, that left leaning organizations have begun to attack churches and ecclesiastical institutions in Puerto Rico, specially the protestant ministries. This is because, large protestant ministries are campaign donors to many right leaning pro-statehood politicians. 

To give an example, in recent years, a controversial law was proposed in the local senate legislature. The proposed constitutional amendment, “law 99”, would have established marriage as an institution based between a man and a woman, and would have made civil unions between members of the same sex illegal. The law was not passed, due to pressure from the local Popular Democratic Party, who is mostly aligned with the Democratic Party. During the debate of the controversial project, the legislature was dominated by a conservative majority, whereas the executive branch was dominated by the liberal governor Anibal Acevedo Vilá.

Even though the proposed law to make a referendum to create the constitutional amendment did not pass, all efforts to change the Civil Code of Puerto Rico and allow gay marriages have failed. 

Most Puerto Ricans prefer to work than to live in public housing projects and receive government aide. Unfortunately, almost a half century of Democrat governors have created a system that forces the under privileged to live depending on government aide, and penalizing the recipients if they try to progress. If you could ask any Puerto Rican in the island if they trust the government, most would say absolutely no, no matter if it’s a Republican or a Democrat in power. This is because we are naturally skeptic of government.

Just like many southern Border States, Puerto Rico has a large illegal immigration problem from Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. Thousands die each year in the Mona Passage between the west coast of Puerto Rico and the eastern tip of the Hispaniola. Hundreds more are captured by the Coast Guard and Border patrol. The rest manage to enter the island and gain free access to public education, public State run healthcare services, and even manage to gain false identifications to benefit from Social Security and Pell Grants. Most of these illegal’s look for the American Dream in Puerto Rico.  Even though most are well intentioned, there is a good portion of these immigrants that when they come to Puerto Rico, because of the current economical crisis, is forced into criminal acts. 

Unfortunately, the real reason why we have had so many democratic governors in Puerto Rico is tied to our Status issue, and not to the way we view politics as a whole.  Currently, in Puerto Rico, the colonial or territorial political system is dominated not by the National parties, but by local colonial parties: the New Progressive Party (NPP), and the Popular Democratic Party (PDP). Like I stated before, the PDP is a majority of pro-territorial Democrats mixed with a left leaning pro-independence faction. The New Progressive Party, on the other hand, is divided between a majority of Republicans, and the pro-Statehood members of the Democratic Party. Out of the 4 NPP governors that have been elected 2 have been republican and 2 have been democrats.

Conservatives should support Puerto Rico, and any other territory that has all the conditions to do so, becoming a State. Currently, 3.5 million natural born American citizens are unable to vote for the commander-in-chief. Any mainland born American that moves to Puerto Rico, or any of the American territories, loses his or her right to vote in the general or midterm elections. Also, the old maxim of no taxation without representation should also be re-introduced into this debate.

It is true that Puerto Ricans in the island don’t pay federal income taxes (at least those that are not employed by the federal government), but we do pay Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal taxes. We receive less federal funds from the federal government as a result of our territorial status, which in it by itself is unconstitutional, as we’re not even a State and are a burden to the Federal government.

Currently more Puerto Ricans participate in the armed forces than residents of over 40 States, and our veterans are not allowed to vote for their commander-in-chief, nor do they or any of us have voting representation in both Houses of Congress. 

Puerto Rico is a part of the United States. Puerto Ricans value the rights and liberties of being an American citizen, but unfortunately, because of past decisions and discrimination, we lack the full benefits of said rights and liberties in our own home. Any Puerto Rican that moves to the States is guaranteed access to all rights, liberties, and responsibilities. 

Sadly, it has been members of the conservative movement that in fear and ignorance of our true American values, have made alliances with the far left of our territorial politics. Republicans like Virginia Foxx, have been influenced by liberal lobbyist sent in by the pro-territory faction of the PDP, which is aligned to the Democratic Party, to stop any attempt of truly solving our Status problem.  But others like current presidential candidate, and congressman from the State of Texas, Ron Paul and congressman from the State of Alaska, Don Young, have made clear by actions they endorse and support the Self determination and Statehood for Puerto Rico. Even former presidents, like Reagan and G. H. Bush have supporter Statehood for Puerto Rico, after all, support for Statehood for the island is in the Republican National Party platform. 

If Puerto Rico were to become a State, it should be considered a swing State at first, but as time and maturity in National politics passed, I wholly believe we would be a conservative majority. As full members of the Union, we would be productive members to the Federation that constitutes the United States of America. Puerto Rico would be the shining beacon of liberty and democracy to the rest of Latin America.


Joe said...

Very good article:)

I hope PR becomes a state!

Chris F said...

This is a great article Edwin! I am a young conservative like you, and as someone who's family has a vacation home in Puerto Rico I definitely believe Puerto Rico would be a benefit to the Republican Party provided they ditch the silly fear of Hispanics. Too many people assume that island Puerto Ricans are the same as the heavily Democratic leading "Nuyoricans" that live here on Long Island and New York City. Even the island Democrats are generally socially conservative ... very, very few Puerto Ricans are far left and they are usually the Soberanistas like Carmen Yulin (shudders) and the independenistas who don't participate in national politics.

I believe that Puerto Rico statehood is inevitable although it probably won't happen before 2015.