Acevedo is wrong: The US is ready for a vibrant Hispanic state

by Jan 24, 2017Bocaítos0 comments

The Puerto Rico status issue is heating up once again, following the election of the new pro-statehood government, and its intention and legislative actions to have a plebiscite offering residents the choice to choose between statehood and independence. As they have done for decades, leader of the pro-status quo Popular Democratic Party are opposing such a vote, using the usual arguments against statehood, while trying to validate the actual status as a valid non-territorial option, despite last year’s multiple confirmations that it is a territorial status. Their efforts however, are not unnoticed, and are getting a response, including this letter from Raben Group Senior Associate and former Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association president Eduardo Soto, in response to an op ed from former governor Anibal Acevedo Vilá (PDP, D).

While former Puerto Rico Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá is right that statehood, on its own, is not a solution to Puerto Rico’s economic woes (Jan. 12, “Statehood for Puerto Rico; An Insane Proposition”), Puerto Rico’s ability to make decisions for itself would nonetheless be a step in the right direction. That is what a proposed vote between statehood and independent sovereignty would allow. It is unclear why Acevedo is so offended by this effort, or just what he would do differently.

Rather than embrace the historical multiculturalism that makes this country great, Acevedo would have us give into its most recent wave of white nationalism. He claims the banner of hispanicity in one breath and appears to throw Puerto Rican culture under the bus in the next. He praises a “rich” culture that has endured since the United States invaded in 1898, but dismissively assumes such a culture is undesirable to 21st century Americans. Acevedo seems willing to weaponize xenophobia for political gain. Why else would he fearmonger over a “multi-national state”?

Acevedo would have you believe that Puerto Rico would be the first culturally distinct state in the Union; more Hispanic than the former Mexican states that now form the American Southwest and more siloed than the Pacific archipelago of Hawaii. He insinuates that our language and heritage pose a unique threat to the most fundamental American institutions. Surely, there are some in this country who share those views: Richard Spencer, Jared Taylor and Donald Trump, to name a few. But they are vastly outnumbered in an optimistic nation that values diversity and that I believe would embrace a vibrant Hispanic state.

Expect more pieces like these in the coming weeks as the Senate of Puerto Rico debates a bill that would provide for a plebiscite in early June, this time using the money allocated by Congress in the previous session for such a vote.