Puerto Rico’s Status Question Creeps Into Miss Universe Contest

Jan 28, 2015
2:22 PM

Here at Latino Rebels we like to cover the serious issues, and what can be more serious than Puerto Rican politics becoming part of the 2015 Miss Universe contest, which ended last Sunday. During preliminary evers before the primetime show, Miss Puerto Rico was asked whether she thought the U.S. colony (sorry, territory) should become 51st state of the Union or not. This is what Gabriela Berríos told Primera Hora (our translation from Spanish):


I answered that I am very patriotic. I feel very Puerto Rican and I love the Island of Enchantment, no one can doubt that. For me, and this is my opinion, Puerto Rico should have a representative from our country in Miss Universe.

I love mofongo, carne frita and, I will say it again, I feel very Puerto Rican and I think Puerto Rico needs to be separate from the United States. I didn’t answer that, but I did say that I would want to see a boricua candidate every year in Miss Universe.

It was a crafty answer, and it is unclear what Berríos —who lives and studies in Orlando now— was trying to say. Nonetheless, this whole illusion that if Puerto Rico were to become the 51st state wouldn’t change a thing is hilarious. For example, just a few years back, pro-statehood governor Luis Fortuño made sure that people took pride in the island’s Puerto Rican Olympics team, when in fact, if Fortuño was true to his United States leanings, he would have been cheering for Team USA and telling people that statehood for Puerto Rico would mean “Adiós, Team Puerto Rico.” Sure, the International Olympic Committee is a private organization, but once you became an official part of the USA, there’s no way the USA would tell Puerto Rico that it can have its own Olympic team.

So you can imagine that this whole Miss Universe thing (and trust us, Miss Universe is a serious-ass topic on the island) would also add to that illusion. Because of that, we are not surprised that Desireé Lowry, head of Puerto Rico’s Miss Universe franchise, went on Puerto Rican radio to assure everyone that even if Puerto Rico were to become a state, not to worry, there would still be a Miss Puerto Rico in Miss Universo. The following clip is in Spanish, but at the end of it, Lowry tries to calms everyone’s fears by suggesting that.

If Puerto Rico were to one day became a state, I don’t think that the [Miss Universe organization] would necessarily eliminate Puerto Rico as a separate representation from that of the United States.

Lowry also said in a separate report that Berríos’ answer was a good one because “one of the worriers we have as Puerto Ricans is that if were to to become a state, well then we would no longer be able to participate in events like the Olympics and Miss Universe. But that doesn’t necessarily need to be the case… That’s why I thought it was great to see [Berríos] express her opinion.”

Here’s the thing: you can’t have it both ways. If you are pushing for Puerto Rican statehood, you have to go all in. No more Olympics. No more Miss Universe. Instead of being honest with people, those who push for statehood will tell you that we are being alarmists. Really? You really think the United States will tell Puerto Rico, “yeah, don’t worry about those Olympics and Miss Universe things. We know you guys love them and all that. You can keep that and still be a state.” Yeah, that will play well on U.S. media.

Stop selling the illusion, people. If Puerto Rico were to become the the 51st state, a little bit of that “Puerto Ricanness” goes away. That’s fine if that’s what people want (we can only imagine the reaction when the Miss Universe run were to end), but let’s not pretend everything will be the same if indeed La Isla del Encanto were to be named the Estado del Encanto. Time to move away from those mediocre arguments and tell the truth.