President Donald Trump has said that he is strongly against admitting Puerto Rico as the 51st state as long as San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz remains in office.
What did the president say?
In a pre-taped interview on Geraldo Rivera's WTAM radio show that aired on Monday, Trump said, "With the mayor of San Juan as bad as she is and as incompetent as she is, Puerto Rico shouldn’t be talking about statehood until they get some people that really know what they’re doing."
He added that statehood for Puerto Rico could be "something they talk about" as long as "you have good leadership" in the U.S. territory. But he added that "With people like that involved in Puerto Rico, I would be an absolute no.”
Cruz has been an outspoken critic of Trump, saying that she believes the president was negligent in his handling of the damage caused by Hurricane Maria and that he is "incapable of feeling solidarity and empathy."
What did the governor of Puerto Rico say?
In a statement, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló (D) said:
The president said he is not in favor of statehood for the people of Puerto Rico based on a personal feud with a local mayor. This is an insensitive, disrespectful comment to over 3 million Americans who live in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.
How can the United States make the case for democracy at the United Nations this week, when they have under their flag the most populous colony in the world? I urge all political leaders in the nation to define their views towards our quest for equal treatment for the U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico.
Rosselló campaigned on a platform of statehood, and has continued to advocate for it.
In June, the territory's non-voting representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, Jenniffer González-Colón (R), introduced legislation to admit Puerto Rico as a state. Colon tweeted out she did not think that Trump should make a decision that affected all Puerto Ricans based on "one bad mayor."
Equality 4 Puerto Ricans shouldn’t be held up by one bad mayor who’s leaving office in 2020 & do not represent the people who voted twice for statehood. In 2012 61%, and 97% in 2017. Equality & statehood are much bigger than any lousy & temporary politician. Equality transcends
— Jenniffer González (@Jenniffer2012) September 24, 2018
Trump's comments contradict the Republican Party platform, which affirms the right of Puerto Ricans to achieve statehood if they voted to do so.
The Republican Platform for 2016 stated, "We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state. "
The Democratic Party Platform the same year more vaguely stated, "Democrats believe that the people of Puerto Rico should determine their ultimate political status from permanent options that do not conflict with the Constitution, laws, and policies of the United States."
Without statehood, Puerto Rico sends a non-voting member to the House of Representatives, but does not get a vote in either house of Congress. Its people, however, are full U.S. citizens and can move freely anywhere within the United States without a passport. They are also have any rights and privileges afforded to any other American citizens, although Puerto Rico's lack of electoral votes means that they do not get a say in U.S. presidential elections.