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Sun Jun 11, 2017, 06:44 AM

Statehood for Puerto Rico? Lessons from the last time the US added a star to its flag

By David Stebenne, The Ohio State University

On June 11, Puerto Ricans will vote on statehood.

Even if Puerto Rico votes “yes,” Congress must still pass a law in order to change the island’s legal status from that of a commonwealth to a state. Congress, however, seems likely to drag its feet. That’s what happened when Hawaii became a state in the 1950s – an experience that offers some interesting and relevant parallels to the Puerto Rican case.

The popularity of populous places

Like Puerto Rico today, Hawaii was a developed place when its residents applied for statehood. This is in contrast with some earlier states like Ohio and Wyoming that were carved out of sparsely populated territories. Hawaii’s population in the 1950s – just under half a million – was greater than that of several other states, something that is true for Puerto Rico today.

As novelist James Michener observed, “Hawaii is by far the most advanced state culturally that has ever been admitted to the Union.” Michener was referring to the high number of firmly established schools, churches, libraries and museums there – something Puerto Rico can also boast about.

Read more: http://mtstandard.com/opinion/columnists/statehood-for-puerto-rico-lessons-from-the-last-time-the/article_726f124f-9c3f-5713-a3ef-c9bebddf2339.html

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