Amid the attention to disaster relief in Puerto Rico, it's worth remembering this passage from Ronald Reagan's November 13, 1979 remarks announcing his candidacy for president of the United States:
It is now time to take stock of our own house and to resupply its strength.
Part of that process involves taking stock of our relationship with Puerto Rico. I favor statehood for Puerto Rico and if the people of Puerto Rico vote for statehood in their coming referendum I would, as President, initiate the enabling legislation to make this a reality.
There have been a series of such referenda with varying and close results. In the most recent such vote, in 2017, 97% of those who voted chose statehood. In a similar referendum in 1998, 46.6% chose statehood while 50.5% chose "none of the above."
My own sense of it is that Reagan had it about right. Statehood is not a guarantee of success, whether we're talking about Puerto Rico or the District of Columbia or the U.S. Virgin Islands or Guam (or, for that matter, upstate New York, or Mississippi). It's possible to botch disaster relief in a state as well as in a commonwealth or a protectorate. But a status less than statehood for Puerto Rico puts the American government in the awkward position of ruling over territory in which residents have less than full representation in the national government. That's pretty much what America was founded to protest against.