Ed Morales takes the 110th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Puerto Rico as an opportunity to talk about its status. "The United States invaded the island on July 25, 1898, and claimed it as booty after the Spanish-American War. Long since obsolete as a strategic outpost in the Cold War, the Caribbean island is America's best-kept secret: an unfree state within the land of the free." The island has never seriously been considered for statehood, often for racist reasons. A portion of Puerto Rico's Vieques Island was routinely used as a bombing range by the U.S. Navy. The island of nearly four million inhabitants "is an 'unincorporated territory,' which means that the island is subject to the authority of the U.S. Congress, which can overturn any action by the island's legislature." Puerto Ricans are not able to vote in U.S. presidential elections, nor do they having voting representatives in Congress. While there is often a misperception that Puerto Ricans receive certain rights without paying taxes (which is mainly false), Morales has this take: "Puerto Rico's commonwealth status was a dry run for the free trade practices of the last 15 years, where profit -- and the potential for local investment -- is extracted from a weaker economy by rampaging multinational corporations. Today, Puerto Rico is suffering from a failing economy with high unemployment rates, a fall-off in tourism due to the gas crisis, overdependence on government entitlements like food stamps and a failing public education system."
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