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The Puerto Ricans are a "people who haven't developed a powerful will to become a separate state," Arturo Morales Carrion, a Puerto Rican historian, said last night to an audience of 60 at the Kennedy School Forum.
Legal nationality does not create cultural nationality, and Puerto Rico can only be absorbed into th United States through history, not through a legislative act, Morales told his audience.
Morales outlined the history of relations between Puerto Rico and the United States, saying that the U.S. became involved in Puerto Rico at a time for empire building for many countries.
He expressed his support for Puerto Rico as a commonwealth, rather than as an equal member of the American nation, saying that a nation has a common language, a common tradition, and common cultural behaviors. Morales added that Illinois and Massachusetts are different, but not as necessarily different as the United States and Puerto Rico will always be.
Puerto Ricans were granted American citizenship in 1917 for the purposes of national safety and defense, Morales said, explaining that the U.S. wanted support during the war--"Ambivalence was solved in the face of external threat."
Morales called Puerto Rico's present situation an "offensive anachronism," saying that no people belongs to anyone else, and Puerto Rico cannot be subordinated to the United States. While not advocating formal statehood, he stressed that Congress must accept the cultural identity of the Puerto Rican people.
Morales said that 18-per-cent unemployment in Puerto Rico sends people to the continent in search of jobs, adding that the status of Puerto Ricans in the United States is a major concern to the Puerto Rican people.
Morales predicted that the "Reagan policies will bring a chaotic situation" because Puerto Rico has relied too heavily of federal money. Local taxes will go up, he said, to compensate for loss of federal funds without any increase in benefits to the people. Puerto Ricans pay no federal taxes, so they will not benefit from Reagan's tax cuts.
The present conflict in Puerto Rican politics is between the pro-state and the pro-commonwealth factions, which command equal support, Morales said, adding that the independence movement has only 5- to 6-per-cent of the vote in the Puerto Rican legislature.
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