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viernes, 16 de mayo de 2008

Q&A: Puerto Rico politician wants to see island become 51st state

Image and video hosting by TinyPic By JERRY KAMMER • Gannett News Service May 16, 2008 WASHINGTON — As the Democratic presidential primary battle soon moves to the shores of Puerto Rico, the island's political concerns are likely to make the national news. The contest presents an unusual opportunity for the island, which has not received a visit from a sitting president since John Kennedy in 1961. For Kenneth D. McClintock, president of the Senate of Puerto Rico, the overriding issue is the political status of the island, which is now a U.S. territory. He would like to see Puerto Rico become the 51st state. Congress has the ultimate say in the issue, but congressional leaders say they want the people of Puerto Rico to reach consensus on the their future. McClintock backs legislation that would provide for a vote on whether to continue the current relationship with the U.S. or seek unspecified change, to be determined later McClintock, 51, is the son of a Puerto Rican mother and a Texan father. He has a law degree from Tulane University. During a recent visit to Washington, he spoke with Gannett News Service. Question: How are the votes shaping up in Congress for the political status bill? Answer: Most Democrats are in favor of it, along with some Republicans. One of the concerns among Republicans is that Puerto Rico would become an entirely Democratic state. Personally, I would hope that would be the case. But unfortunately, I must confess that I think it would be a swing state. There might be some advantage for the Democrats, but when you scratch the surface, Puerto Rico is a relatively conservative society. Q: Are Puerto Ricans enjoying their sudden political prominence on the mainland? A: We're enjoying every bit of it. Sometimes we feel left out, pushed aside. Now, when you have Bill Clinton coming in, Chelsea Clinton coming in, and Hillary and Barack and Michelle Obama, you have to feel good about that. Some people say it's ironic that we don't get to vote in the presidential election in November but we may decide who the Democratic nominee is. I say it's not only ironic. It's a prominent example of the injustices that we've suffered for so long. Q: What would the fiscal effects of statehood be for the United States? A: In the first few years, it might cost a day and a half of the current war expenditures (in Iraq and Afghanistan). That means it would cost maybe a billion and a half or $2 billion per year. That would be the expenses for programs in which we now either don't participate or don't participate fully, minus the federal taxes that we would pay. Q: How many Puerto Ricans are there? A: There are 3.9 million who live in Puerto Rico and 4.1 million who live on the mainland.

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