That’s an admirable attitude. Would that more Americans had it.
Just to be clear … I think you’ve done a heck of a job expanding on how the status quo is a f***ed up mess that ought to be changed.
And I certainly agree with your suggestion that US colonialism is an anachronism. As you say, some specific fixed path to statehood or to separation should be laid out and then stuck to as the PR citizens figure out for themselves which alternative future they prefer. As you say, a vague moving target is just an excuse for further cynical exploitation. By all sides, both in PR and on the mainland.
A problem with any big change in any area of law is that lots of people will have made, or be making, significant investments in time, money, and effort based on the idea that although the future isn’t predictable in detail, most of everything will be pretty similar 10 or 20 years from now as it is now.
e.g. … It’s certainly a truism of tax “reform” that once you trail an idea, either enact it or defeat it. If you leave it hanging out there for any meaningful number of months, you’ll freeze much of the investment upon which economic growth & productivity depends as business is more scared of ending up on the wrong side of the change/no change that might or might not happen.
As applied to PR, and I’m certainly no expert on the details though I visit the island regularly …
If PR became a state, all the status uncertainty you mention goes away. They’re really citizens forever with all the good and bad features of that. They’d presumably lose a bunch of the subsidy & special tax stuff they have, as there are plenty of other impoverished states in the current 50 who’d demand to level that playing field as part of the price of admission.
If PR became independent, its economy would quickly resemble the other Caribbean island nations. That might be a blow to a lot of that emplaced investment I mentioned a couple paragraphs ago. The politics might be factious, but they wouldn’t be hostage to US political winds so much.
An interesting question is which outcome would produce a greater exodus of current island residents to other countries, including the US, and which outcome would produce a bigger reverse diaspora as folks of PR heritage returned to the island.
It was mentioned upthread that ethnic PR folks not living on the island have some moral say in the matter. A plausible position to be sure.
An alternative POV is that anyone who votes for whatever option should be required to live through the consequences. Voting for choice A then bailing out when choice A doesn’t deliver what you hoped seems … cowardly and hypocritical. Any such requirement is obviously completely impractical, but also has a certain moral force to it. A variation on “you broke it; you bought it.” Don’t juggle the fragile bric-a-brac you’re not willing to buy.