As United States citizens, Puerto Ricans are subjected to U.S. federal laws—yet are stripped of the right to vote in U.S. federal elections. Why?
In a video for Mic, Gabe Gonzalez breaks down why his mother is ineligible to vote this election season after changing her permanent residence from Florida to Puerto Rico, and gets to the root of what the island’s muted voice says about the nation it belongs to.
“Puerto Rico is a U.S. commonwealth, which is basically a cute euphemism the government uses for ‘modern-day colony,'” he begins in the clip where he points out Puerto Rico’s sole representation in Congress boils down to non-voting Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi. He later reveals that Puerto Ricans did not have an option in selecting federal members assigned to carry out the PROMESA bill, which addresses their ongoing financial crisis.
Although Puerto Ricans paid $3.3 billion in taxes in 2011, roughly the same amount Vermont paid in the same year, Gonzalez states that the Green Mountain state would never be put in the same situation without backlash. “States’ rights advocates would have a veritable sh*t fit, and they’re allowed to vote for president, but when it comes to an island full of Latinos, f**k them,” he asserts.
While Gonzalez admits that he doesn’t have a solution, he offers that “treating Puerto Ricans like human beings” is the starting point to discovering one. “If moving back to Puerto Rico means my mom is at the whim of the federal government, the very least she should get is a say in who’s running it.”
Check out his full thoughts below: