Puerto Ricans Vote to become U.S. State
The issue of Puerto Rico joining the United States as the 51st state has again resurfaced, following the passage of a non-binding referendum on the Caribbean island.
On Election Day nearly 54% of Puerto Ricans voted in favor of changing their island’s status vis-à-vis the U.S.
Among those favoring change, 61% voted for statehood, which represented the first time in the last 45 years that a majority supported such a move.
The remaining voters chose a sovereign free association providing more autonomy (33%), or complete independence (5%).
Some observers noted that the election outcome in Puerto Rico seemed to send a mixed message regarding statehood. While many voters said “yes” to joining the U.S., they also voted pro-statehood Governor Luis Fortuno out of office and replaced him with Alejandro Garcia Padilla, who prefers to keep the island’s current political status.
The decision to become the 51st state ultimately rests with Congress, but it is unlikely lawmakers will approve statehood as long as Republicans are in charge of the House. This is because Puerto Ricans are viewed as more supportive of the Democratic Party.
President Barack Obama had expressed support for the referendum and his intention to respect the will of Puerto Ricans if a majority voted for statehood.
Puerto Rico has been a U.S. territory for 114 years. Its inhabitants are U.S. citizens, but they cannot vote in presidential elections. Their representation in the House consists of a resident commissioner who can only vote on procedural matters and in committees.
To Learn More:
Puerto Rico Vote Endorses Statehood With Asterisk (by Ben Fox and Danica Coto, Associated Press)
Despite Referendum, Puerto Rico Statehood Unlikely Until At Least 2015 (by Jason Koebler, U.S. News & World Report)
Puerto Ricans Opt for Statehood in Referendum (by Danica Coto, Associated Press)
Political Status of Puerto Rico (Wikipedia)
Will Puerto Rico Become the 51st State? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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