Puerto Rico's right to determine its own futureThe Feb. 26...


March 17, 1998

Puerto Rico's right to determine its own future

The Feb. 26 column by Linda Chavez, "Puerto Rico should not be a state," was not only pitifully simplistic, it was riddled with factual inaccuracies.

Ms. Chavez criticized Republican leaders of Congress for pushing for a plebiscite that would allow the 3.7 million U.S. citizens residing in Puerto Rico to choose among statehood, independence or remaining in some sort of association with the United States.

Ms. Chavez characterized the bill as a "desperate" Republican attempt to "entice more Hispanics into voting Republican."

Alleging that Republicans "want to make Puerto Rico the 51st state in the union," Ms. Chavez warned of the "danger" of bringing into the union a Spanish-speaking, welfare state.

Contrary to Ms. Chavez's assertions, the bill did not seek to make Puerto Rico the "51st state" of the union, but rather to give Puerto Ricans the opportunity to permanently resolve the political status question. (The House voted 209-208 March 4 to conduct a referendum in Puerto Rico this year.)

Ms. Chavez is presumptuous in assuming that Puerto Ricans would choose statehood, particularly considering that twice in the past 40 years, Puerto Rico has turned down statehood.

The bill was, therefore, not about making Puerto Rico the 51st state but rather about granting Puerto Rico the right to self-determination.

Ms. Chavez expressed deep concern about the "cultural implications" of granting statehood to Puerto Rico.

She did not explain what these implications were but rather warned of the dangers of bringing into the union a Spanish-speaking state.

The truth is that Puerto Rico residents are U.S. citizens. They are already part of the body politic of the United States and, therefore, cannot be brought into it again.

Thus, I guess what Ms. Chavez is really objecting to is the possibility of empowering that group of U.S. citizens with the right to participate in the federal political process; that is the right to be represented in Congress and to vote in presidential elections.

What she is really afraid of is the possibility that these 3.7 million Spanish-speaking U.S. citizens be given the political power to oppose her English-only agenda.

Perhaps Ms. Chavez is unaware of how much her ignorant rhetoric resembles that of some congressmen 100 years ago who opposed annexation of the Philippines because it would bring into the union "those mongrels of the East, with breath of pestilence and touch of leprosy."

I can only say that I am happy Ms. Chavez is not in Congress, and I am happy she did not draft our Constitution.

Gabriel A. Terrasa


Quality of life is key in population control

Human overpopulation affects the quality of life of all people, especially the poor, who are usually the losers in the competition for dwindling resources.

In their March 4 column, "A battle for the environment, our society," Robert Gottlieb and Peter Drier lump those of us who worry about overpopulation together with elitists who want to keep undesirables out of their neighborhoods.

9- That is a gross distortion of our intent.

Charlie Ewers


State law is needed to fight tobacco in court

There are a lot of ridiculous lawsuits in Maryland courts, but the one against the tobacco industry should proceed at all costs.

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. is supporting a bill that would protect the state's right to sue this deceitful industry that has killed thousands of Marylanders with its "legal, lawful" product.

This is a narrowly focused bill to hold the tobacco industry accountable.

That the tobacco industry has hired 14 lobbyists should make legislators concerned that the industry is trying to cover up what it knows is the best way for our state to recover billions of dollars in Medicaid reimbursements.

The tobacco industry is scared because it is rightfully being attacked across the country and is finally losing the fight -- except in Maryland, where that old-boy network is alive and well.

Shelley M. Buckingham


Essex is not gritty -- or lumpy or scratchy

In the Feb. 23 article about the closing of the Middlesex Bowling Alley, "Lane closings will narrow east-side leisure options for duckpin bowling fans," the area is referred to as "Baltimore County's gritty east side."

Your use of the adjective "gritty" was inconsiderate and showed a bias toward the Essex area that is not earned.

Essex is not full of grit, nor is it lumpy, scratchy or crumbly. Most of the Essex area consists of older but well-maintained homes.

Essex, as with any neighborhood, has had its share of problems, but the area does not deserve to be stereotyped in every article that contains its name.

Essex is inhabited by many good citizens, from wide economic backgrounds. The Sun owes Essex an apology.

Kathleen Bukowski


Capital gains form is far too complex

Recently several letter writers have found fault with the new method of computing the capital gains tax.

I agree with them wholeheartedly.

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