Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló argued Saturday that residents of the US territory are treated like “second-class citizens” and said “we need to solve the century-old problem of colonialism in Puerto Rico.”
In addition to calling for more resources to help rebuild after Hurricane Maria, the governor told CNN’s S.E. Cupp, “there’s another thing we need: We need to solve the century-old problem of colonialism in Puerto Rico. The truth of the matter is … we are treated as second-class citizens.”
During an interview on “S.E. Cupp Unfiltered,” Rosselló, a member of the New Progressive Party, which seeks Puerto Rico statehood, said that all US lawmakers should be able to answer the question, “Do you support the notion that the United States, being the standard-bearer of democracy, should have more than 3 million of its citizens disenfranchised from voting or having representation?”
As a US territory, Puerto Rico does not have statehood status, although its residents are American citizens. As residents of a territory rather than a state, Puerto Ricans can’t vote for president in the US general election. The territory has a nonvoting delegate in Congress, called a resident commissioner.
Rosselló defended the accuracy of the death toll of nearly 3,000 residents that was associated with Hurricane Maria by researchers and adopted by the Puerto Rico government as the official death count, but which President Donald Trump has falsely claimed is not accurate.
“I reject the notion that this is somehow a conspiracy or that it is not true. It is the most scientifically accurate estimate that we have from what happened here in Puerto Rico,” the governor said.
CNN’s Darran Simon contributed to this report.