Poll: 46% of US Voters Support Debt Cancelation for Puerto Rico, Other Colonies

Jul 7, 2022
3:54 PM

Protesters wave the original flag of Puerto Rico and the black flag of resistance as a line of police officers guard El Capitolio in San Juan, Puerto Rico, October 26, 2021. (Carlos Edil Berrios Palanco/Latino Rebels)

If U.S. territories like Puerto Rico were granted either statehood or independence, 46 percent of likely voters in the United States would support a one-time debt cancelation by the federal government to compensate the residents of those territories for the century-long impact of second-class citizenship, according to a poll conducted by IZQ Strategies.

Thirty-seven percent of likely voters would outright oppose such a measure.

When asked if Puerto Rico should be paid after being kept as a U.S. colony for over 120 years, 40 percent of voters said they would support forgiving up to $100 billion of Puerto Rico’s debt if it became a state or an independent nation. The support percentage barely decreased (39 percent) when voters were asked if the amount of debt forgiveness should be $200 billion.

Gustavo Sánchez, founder and principal of IZQ Strategies, says the poll’s findings show strong support for debt cancelation as reparations for U.S. colonies.

“Reparations should be considered as part of any decolonization plan,” Sánchez told Latino Rebels. “Changing Puerto Rico’s, or any colony’s political status alone, is not enough.”

Sánchez also points out that the poll’s result suggest that voters aren’t sensitive to the level of debt relief proposed. “We asked about both $100 billion and $200 billion in debt relief for Puerto Rico, and the results were statistically the same,” he said.

IZQ Strategies is a progressive political research and strategy firm based in Chicago and San Juan. Pollsters used web panel respondents for the survey, and the sample of 1,291 respondents was weighted to be representative of likely voters by age, gender, education, race, and voting history.

According to the results, both ideas of a one-time debt cancelation and reparation payments found higher support —around 60 percent— among voters with a Democratic voting history. Nor was support from likely voters from the Republican Party was considerably low.

“Even 29 percent of Republican voters support debt cancelation as reparations, and among voters of color, support levels are even higher. “Among Latinos alone, 58 percent support and only 25 percent oppose,” Sánchez noted.

“There is really no excuse for Democrats not to act on decolonization while they are in power, especially if they want to turn out Latino voters in the midterm elections,” Sánchez added. “They need to show up for Latinos if they want Latinos to show up for them.”.

The survey was conducted in English during the last week of June and had a margin of error of ±4 percentage points.


Juan de Dios Sánchez Jurado is a summer correspondent for Futuro Media. A writer, lawyer, and journalist from Colombia, he is currently studying at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York.