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 on October 26, 2021. (Carlos Edil Berrios Palanco/Latino Rebels)

If U.S. territories like Puerto Rico were granted statehood or independence, 46% of likely voters in the United States would support one-time federal debt cancellation to compensate residents of those territories for the secular impact of second-class citizenship, according to a survey by IZQ Strategies.

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

When asked if Puerto Rico should be paid off after being maintained as an American colony for more than 120 years, 40% of voters said they would support the cancellation of up to $100 billion from the debt of Puerto Rico if it became an independent state or nation. The percentage of support barely dropped (39%) when voters were asked if the amount of debt cancellation should be $200 billion.

Gustavo Sánchez, founder and director of IZQ Strategies, says the poll results show strong support for debt cancellation as reparation for the American colonies.

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

Sánchez also points out that the poll result suggests that voters are not receptive to the level of debt relief on offer. “We requested 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 policy 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, the two ideas of one-time debt cancellation and reparations payments found higher support — around 60% — among voters with Democratic voting histories. Nor was support from likely Republican Party voters dramatically weak.

“Even 29% of Republican voters support debt cancellation as a remedy, and among voters of color the levels of support are even higher. “Among Latinos alone, 58% support and only 25% oppose,” Sánchez noted.

“There’s really no excuse for Democrats not to act on decolonization while they’re in office, especially if they want to get Latino voters to vote in the midterm elections,” Sánchez added. “They have 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 Sanchez-Jurado is a summer correspondent for Futuro Media. A Colombian writer, lawyer and journalist, he is currently studying at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York.