Pros and Cons of Puerto Rico Becoming a State

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Puerto Rico has long been a territory of the US – it was ceded to the United States following the Spanish-American War in 1898. Although a US territory, the country does not participate in Presidential elections. However, discussions have been made to make Puerto Rico the 51st state of the United States of America.

In 2012, a status referendum was held with 54% expressing dissatisfaction over their current political relationship. A separate question saw 61% of votes supporting statehood. Would it benefit Puerto Rico to become a state of the US? Are there any disadvantages of becoming a US state? Here’s a look at the pros and cons:

List of Pros of Puerto Rico Becoming a State

1. It improves quality of life.
Puerto Rico is living in debt – that is a fact. The country has benefited from federal US laws providing financial incentives to manufacturers that held production in the country rather than outside the US. However, that stopped in 2006 and launched a full-blown recession. Since then, the island still hasn’t recovered.

The country has been in recession since 2006 and was made worse by the global financial crisis of 2008. As of 2015, unemployment rates were at 14% and almost half of Puerto Rico’s residents live in poverty.

Making Puerto Rico a US state would bring job opportunities and a range of benefits that can vastly improve the life of Puerto Ricans.

2. It allows Puerto Rico to have a say.
Yes, Puerto Rico elects their own governor and have their own state government, but the United States congress still has the final say. The country has a representative in Congress (a resident commissioner) but isn’t given any voting power. Since US Congress already controls the decisions made about the country, making the country a US state will give Puerto Rico a voice.

3. It increases tax revenue for the US.
Making Puerto Rico the 51st state brings in extra revenue every year for the Federal Reserve. The money brought in would be through income taxes and sales.

List of Cons of Puerto Rico Becoming a State

1. It may lead to loss of culture.
A lot fear that their culture would be lost should Puerto Rico decide to become a US state. Although English is widely spoken in the country, most of its residents speak Spanish. There is a fear that speaking Spanish and other cultural aspects key to their heritage would be replaced when the country becomes a US state.

2. It causes tourism to decline.
The largest source of revenue for Puerto Rico is tourism. Turning them into a US state would make them lose that novelty. Some would no longer consider it an exotic location to visit and as such, income would be lost.

3. It may increase crime and poverty rates in the US.
Becoming a US state means statistics on Puerto Rico would be integrated into the US. That said, the country does have a high poverty and crime rate which would add on to the numbers the US already poses.