LATINO VOICES
07/27/2016 04:39 pm ET

Rosie Perez: The Issue Of Puerto Rico's Statehood Needs To Be Addressed

The actress says Puerto Ricans are treated "as second-class citizens."

Rosie Perez is not happy about how either political party has treated Puerto Rico, and it goes beyond how Congress mishandled the island’s crippling debt crisis.

In an interview with MSNBC’s José Díaz-Balart, the actress spoke about why she supports Hillary Clinton and what she appreciated about Bernie Sander’s campaign. But Perez also took some time to denounce how many mainland Americans perceive Puerto Ricans as second-class citizens. 

When Díaz-Balart asked the actress if she was happy about how Republicans and Democrats have dealt with the debt crisis in Puerto Rico she gave her honest opinion: 

No, I am not. I think that people treat the island and the people that live on the island as second-class citizens, [as if] they are sub-par, [as if] they are not important. Puerto Ricans are United States citizens and I think that the issue of statehood or independence needs to be addressed and needs to be resolved. And right now, on the island, the majority of people want statehood. Why isn’t that addressed? Why is that not respected? 

Perez is certainly right about Puerto Ricans wanting to change the island’s status, but whether that change will result in statehood is a bit more complicated. 

In November 2012, Puerto Rico put the issue of the island’s possible statehood to a vote in a two-part referendum. In the first question, a majority of voters (52 percent) said they were dissatisfied with Puerto Rico’s current U.S. commonwealth status. The second question addressed the possibility of statehood, independence or a freely associated state ― 61 percent of voters were in favor of statehood. 

But more than 470,000 Puerto Rican voters intentionally left the second question blank, which means only about 45 percent of the total votes favored statehood. Still, it remains very clear that most Puerto Ricans are unhappy with their current status. 

Watch Rosie Perez discuss Puerto Rico’s status and why she’s worried about this year’s election in the video above. 

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