No, really? The President makes the first “state visit” to the Commonwealth since JFK in 1961, and oddly the final disposition of Puerto Rico is somewhat on the agenda. Regarding this, apparently there are two referenda on the agenda by the end of 2012. The first will force the choice to be between full independence and remaining a part of the United States; the second to offer more options based on the results of the first.
Last I heard (and I’m not exactly up-to-date) public opinion on the issue in Puerto Rico is roughly split evenly three ways, though this is inconsistent with the results of the three plebiscites held over the past 45 years (and when given a choice between retaining the existing commonwealth status, independence, and statehood, just what the hell does a majority result for ‘none of the above’ mean?)
If current public opinion is split evenly, the strategy behind a two-round referendum is plain; else what options exist to further refine an independence victory in the first? Unlike the District of Columbia, it’s not immediately obvious that Puerto Rican statehood would automatically benefit the Democrats either, although I’m sure there are acres of wingnuttery that firmly believe otherwise.
There’s plenty more on the debate to be found here [UPDATE, link actually added now], some of it of dubious quality. My favorite reason to vote against statehood from a Puerto Rican perspective:
“There are several arguments against statehood on the social structure of Puerto Rico. The first is that Puerto will no longer have a representative in their Miss Universe Pageant, which they have won on three occasions.”
Well, damn. Which is more than balanced by the clear winner against statehood from a ‘mainland’ perspective [shorter]: adding a 51st star would irrevocably fuck with American identity.
“Puerto Rican statehood would require changing the US flag. It would require changing the American flag by re-arranging the stars. While 50 stars can fit into the rectangular space, 51 cannot. For this reason, proposed new flags could include a circular arrangement of stars. But, changing the flag is regarded by many as changing American identity in a significant way. And this is, for some, a source of concern.”
Which could be solved by simultaneously adding the District as a state. Or England, which is as likely. Or maybe combining the two Dakotas into one with the admission of Puerto Rico.