Puerto Rico, the 51st Estado

Statehood gains momentum with a boost from Bush

A scale model of the Statue of Liberty evoked memories of Tiananmen Square. A mock barrier, dubbed the Wall of Colonialism, was battered down as demonstrators cheered. It might have been an anti-Soviet prop at an independence rally in Lithuania. Instead, this was in the city of Ponce in southern Puerto Rico, and the 125,000 yellow-clad marchers were not calling for the island's freedom but to join the U.S. as the 51st state.

The March 10 rally was surprising for its size, spirit and the message emblazoned on some banners: LA ESTADIDAD ES PARA LOS POBRES. Statehood for the poor? In...

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