World News

Puerto Rico approves statehood in non-binding referendum

Puerto Rico approves statehood in non-binding referendum

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello said voters in the economically troubled USA island territory were sending a strong message to Congress.

This year's referendum coincides with the 100th anniversary of the United States granting US citizenship to Puerto Ricans, though they are barred from voting in presidential elections and have only one congressional representative with limited voting powers.

A government website for the non-binding referendum, Puerto Rico's fifth such plebiscite since 1967, showed 97 percent supported statehood.

"I hope after 100 years of being a territory of the United States, we can send a message to Congress in the USA that Puerto Rico is ready to do something with its future", said Marco Rodriguez, a voter in Guaynabo.

The Puerto Rico independence movement scheduled a march to coincide with the plebiscite that will start at 2:00 p.m. local time in San Juan outside of the U.S. Federal Court building.

Rosselló added that "it will be up to this new generation of Puerto Ricans to demand and claim in Washington the end of the current improper colonial relationship, and begin a transition process to fully incorporate Puerto Rico as the next state of the Union". Rossello, who campaigned on a push for statehood, said in a telephone interview with Reuters that he will go to the USA capital this week to urge federal lawmakers to begin the process of admitting Puerto Rico into the union. Almost half a million votes were cast for statehood, about 7,600 for free association/independence and almost 6,700 for independence.

The ballot language was not approved by the U.S. Justice Department, which rejected an earlier version because it did not allow voters to endorse the territorial status quo. "We don't have representation in Congress, we don't vote for the president, but they all come here for fundraisers, take our money, they send us to war".

Prediction: The next time the Democrats have a majority in Congress, they will make Puerto Rico the 51st state, being glad to have another state that will vote Democratic, and a Spanish-speaking one at that. He has argued that the if statehood is achieved, it would help the attempts of Puerto Rico to handle its debt crisis.

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"At Wisconsin's ratification as a state in 1848, 23,183 voters from a population of more than 130,000 people participated, which represented 17% of its population".

"What is really best for my island, and what is really the best for the United States?"

Puerto Rico has been under the control of the United States since 1898, and certain political parties are pushing for independence from the United States entirely. These numbers though mean little as it is not binding on the US Congress, which is the decision-making body on the issue. Typically it would include Puerto Rico still receiving military assistance and funding but the ballot says the terms would be agreed upon by the two countries as sovereign nations. "But we're going too to say no, that's not true and the numbers speak for themselves".

Puerto Rico has effectively been in a state of bankruptcy following a decade of depression.

The results of the newest referendum could lead to similar claims, Vargas said.

However, this very crisis could deter Congress from granting statehood to the territory.

But those who did vote were looking into the future.


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