Puerto Ricans are passionate about politics. Political rallies are frequent, and during election years, political alliances are proclaimed by flag-waving caravans that drive through towns honking their horns and broadcasting speeches from loudspeakers. Puerto Rico has one of the highest percentages of voter turnout in the United States, with 81.7 percent in 2004.
There are three political parties in Puerto Rico. The Popular Democratic Party is pro-commonwealth, the New Progressive Party is pro-statehood, and the Puerto Rican Independence Party is pro-independence. Those who embrace independence represent only 5 percent of the population. The rest of the island is fairly evenly divided between pro-statehood and pro-commonwealth factions.
How Puerto Ricans might vote should they be given the option of statehood is hard to say. Four straw votes have been held since 1967—the most recent in 1998 when 50.3 percent of the voters wanted “none of the above.” So clearly, anything can happen. It will be interesting to see what path Puerto Rico chooses should the United States give it the power to decide.
© Suzanne Van Atten from Moon Puerto Rico, 2nd Edition