Highlights

Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island and territory of the United States of America, voted in favour of statehood for the 3rd time in a decade (10 years). Puerto Rico demands to be treated at par with the other 50 states of the America. During 2020 US Presidential elections on 3 November 2020, on the same day, majority of Puerto Ricans voted in favour of a non-binding referendum for a full statehood. Similarly, Washington, D.C. (US Capital) has also been insisting to become the 51st state of the United States of America.

What is Joe Biden’s take on these States?

Joe Biden who won the 2020 US Election from Democratic Party, has been supporting the idea of admitting the both entities as states. On the flip side, it was opposed by 45th US President Donald Trump.

Archive

Caribbean island Puerto Rico is a Spanish speaking island. It is smaller than the Indian state of Tripura. But it holds population of around 31 lakhs. In 1493, It was discovered by Italian explorer and navigator Christopher Columbus. Puerto Rico was a part of the Spanish Empire till 1498 and after that it was annexed by the United Sates of America in 1898.

Puerto Rico people received citizenship in 1917 under Americans. However, the island was not made a state. It remains to be a United States territory. The other United States territories are

  • Guam (island territory in Micronesia),
  • American Samoa (located in the South Pacific Ocean),
  • North Mariana Islands and
  • US Virgin Islands (group of Caribbean islands located near British Virgin Islands).

These territories get only single membership in the United States House of Representatives (lower house of the US Congress). Also, these members do not have voting powers. Puerto Ricans can also not vote in United States Presidential Elections.

Why is Puerto Ricans demanding for statehood?

  • According to the proponents of Puerto Rico, the population of the territory is more than 21 USA states.
  • Puerto Ricans have served in all wars that United States has been involved since World War I, 1914.

Backdrop

Puerto Rico has had 6 referendums in the past years. During these referendums the voters were asked to choose between independence, statehood or commonwealth. In 2020 referendum, 52 per cent voters favoured in statehood.

Why is Washington demanding statehood?

Washington D.C. is a capital of the United States of America, It was created in 1776 on the idea that the national capital should not be a part of any state. The residents of Washington D.C received rights to vote only in 1961 after 23rd United States constitutional amendment. Just like Puerto Rico, Washington D.C also gets only single member in United States House of Representatives who has no voting powers.

Political Issues

For Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico to achieve statehood, both the chambers of US Congress (Senate and House of Representatives) will have to support the initiative. After this, the United States President has to approve.

Why is Puerto Rico important for India?

There are more than 3 thousand Indians living in Caribbean island Puerto Rico island. Also, India is currently in the track of increasing its trade with the Caribbean islands. For this Government of India initiative, Both Indian and Caribbean islands hold a first CARICOM summit in September 2019.

There is 100 Plus islands located in Caribbean region. US disagrees to grant Statehood to Puerto Rico US disagrees to grant Statehood to Puerto Rico