A territory no longer?

Story by Amelia Kimball, Staff Writer

The tropical marine island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean is no stranger to referendums, as this year marks the fourth time this type of election has occurred.

I’m not usually a politics type of person, but the referendum in Puerto Rico will have a huge impact on me. Recently, I found out Spanish minors now need to travel to a Spanish speaking country, just as Spanish majors have had to do.

I don’t know about all of you, but I’m not exactly rich by any stretch of the imagination.

However, this doesn’t mean I don’t want to travel to a Spanish speaking country. If I had my wish, I would go to Valladolid in Spain. The fact of the matter is, I can’t afford it. It was then I learned about Puerto Rico, and I fell in love with the idea. Closer to home and in a beautiful environment, Puerto Rico seemed like the perfect place to practice my Spanish … until I learned about their referendum. Then things got serious.

Puerto Rico has not held a referendum since 1998. However, the ballot looked different this year for voting participants. Voters were asked two questions. The first asked whether or not they would like to leave their current status as a territory, and the second gave them three different options.

What do I want? I want them to stay a territory. I also believe if they remain a territory, it will be what we, as the people of the United States, would best deal with.

Why do I say this? Specifically because of three different voting options.

One. Puerto Ricans can vote to become the 51 state in our great nation.

Other than the fact I like the number 50 more than 51, I think this is not their best option. I believe if they chose to become a state, they would be forgotten about. We’ve been thinking of them as a territory for so long, it would feel strange to see them as anything else, and people are often uncomfortable with change. After all, it’s been over 40 years since a state has been added.

Two. Puerto Rico can vote to become an independent country.

I think this is a popular option for them. Living in America all my life, it’s easy to take for granted the fact that we aren’t tied to anyone. Puerto Ricans have been attached to us for a long time. I don’t think this is bad thing, but then again, I don’t live there. I have no idea what it would be like. However, I think the best option is one which provides them with independence and assistance from us. And that leads to option number three.

This last choice is for a freely associated nation with lawful ties to the United States.

I believe this is the best option for the Puerto Rican people because they will be able to govern themselves, while at the same time having us in the background if they need help.

A recent survey by El Nuevo Dia showed most Puerto Ricans approve of their current status and relationship with the United States. This comes as a huge relief to me. I would be nervous to travel to a place that decided they would rather be completely independent from us, the United States, then have any sort of relationship with us.

I believe Puerto Ricans are smart, able people, and I know they make many educated decisions. They take voting seriously, and there is no doubt this is any different. I only hope it will be a decision that helps us all get along.