Ricardo Rosselló makes case for re-election
On March 2, the incumbent Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló announced his intention to seek a second term in office. As the presumptive nominee of the New Progressive Party, Puerto Rico’s pro-statehood party, Rosselló has begun his campaign by placing the question of statehood at the center of his agenda. Elected in 2016 on a vision to reform and address the country’s persistent economic and governance challenges, Rosselló has made considerable strides during his tenure.
In addition to falling crime rates and unemployment, major commitments have been made to reconstruction efforts toward infrastructure and energy production. Rosselló promised 40% of energy production will be generated from renewables by 2023. His economic agenda is also aimed at improving the business environment on Puerto Rico to attract firms and investment.
These efforts to strengthen Puerto Rico politically and economically are part of the governor’s vision to attain statehood for the archipelago. Central to his agenda and the long-term goals of his party, the NPP, are to become the 51st state of the United States as a full and equal member. To this end, the Governor has called for a referendum on statehood to be held soon, possibly before 2020. “The time has come to fight, to have full equality and eradicate colonialism”, he said while announcing the legislative effort. In an MSNBC appearance last year, he also cited Puerto Ricans’ status as second-class citizens as further reason necessitating full statehood.
According to Rosselló, the future referendum would be a simple, binary yes or no vote on Puerto Rican statehood. Previous plebiscites have been held, but without the recognition of the United States Department of Justice, which would have unlocked $2.5 million in federal funding for the vote. Although they had relatively low levels of turnout, they displayed overwhelming support for statehood, with 97% voting in favor.
In a time when Puerto Rico has been resurgent in the political discourse at the national level, Governor Rosselló’s re-election campaign and political commitments warrant attention as Puerto Rico continues with its impressive economic and political development efforts.