Puerto Rico approves statehood in non-binding referendum

Of the 2,458,036 registered voters in Puerto Rico, about 548,387, or 97 percent, of Puerto Ricans voted in a non-binding referendum for the territory to become America's 51st state, while approximately 16,960, or 3 percent, were opposed, according to the Wall Street Journal review of early returns.

Sunday's landslide vote in Puerto Rico to determine statehood and perhaps add the 51st star to the American flag, was nearly ignored by news media, until the last minute, because of all the political controversies emanating from Washington.

A total of 97% of the Puerto Ricans who cast their vote in the island's non-binding referendum on Sunday voted in favor of seeking to become a full-fledged USA state, CNN reported.

"This brings out the worst in the US Congress", said Dr Amilcar Barreto, a specialist in Puerto Rican politics at Northeastern University in Boston.

Puerto Ricans have had US citizenship since 1917 but as residents of a commonwealth territory rather they can not vote for president in the US elections, and have a nonvoting member in the US Congress called a resident commissioner. The U.S. territory filed for the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history in May. "They lost 300,000 votes in four years", Ferrer said. Free association is an official affiliation with the United States. "Why would the US government want to take on a problem like Puerto Rico?" said Carolina Santos, a single working mother struggling to make her mortgage payment and cover other bills. Also, Puerto Ricans living on the USA mainland, who outnumber those on the island, tend to be more in favor of independence but could not cast ballots in the referendum. However, the two main parties had pushed for a boycott of the vote. They do not pay many federal taxes but receive far less support for social programs like Medicaid.

The campaign director and vice president of the governing PNP party, Thomas Rivera Schatz, meanwhile, defended the statehood win and downplayed the significance of the loss of votes the option received relative to the November 2012 plebiscite on the same subject. While becoming a state would give Puerto Rico additional rights, it would also mean people there would have to pay federal income taxes for the first time.

The archipelago is now an "unincorporated territory" of the US, which means it doesn't have a vote in the US Congress but the Congress has full jurisdiction over the territory.

Puerto Rico's economic crisis has helped drive nearly half a million Puerto Ricans to the mainland in the past decade.

But experts say it is highly unlikely a Republican-controlled Congress would acknowledge Sunday's results, let alone accept them because Puerto Rico tends to favor Democrats.

How would everyday life change if the island became a USA state?

Governor Ricardo Rossello, an integration advocate, struggled to find the support in Washington without success.

Puerto Rico hopes a change in status will help it better address $74 billion in debt $49 billion in pension obligations.

Those who remain behind have been hit with new taxes and higher utility bills on an island where food is 22 percent more expensive than the US mainland and public services are 64 percent more expensive.

Related Articles

  • Accuser takes the stand in Bill Cosby sexual assault trial

    During one exchange, Agrusa suggested that Constand once enjoyed a romantic dinner at Cosby's home before the alleged assault. However, the next time she visited the actor's home she alleges he gave her three pills that he called herbal supplements.
    Murray fends off del Potro to reach 4th round

    Murray fends off del Potro to reach 4th round

    But Wawrinka saved all three, including an athletic volley at the net on the third one, to hold for a 4-2 lead. Andy Murray eased into the last-16 of the French Open 7-6 (8) 7-5 6-0 over a flagging Juan Martin Del Potro .

    Megyn Kelly defends interview with Sandy Hook denier Alex Jones

    Jones quickly tried to deflect the question by criticizing mainstream US media, to which Kelly responded , "That's a dodge". Before you decide you may want to know what Jones himself thought of his interview, or more specifically his interviewer.
  • Theresa May to form minority government after poll setback

    Labour under him polled 40 per cent of the vote, the highest for the party since 1970, and only slightly behind Ms May's Tories. As one teaching student at the University of London told VOA, "I think most of us here were against Brexit previous year ".
    Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford set for £30m Everton move

    Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford set for £30m Everton move

    The expectation is that he will complete his medical upon return to the country. Wherever Joe Hart ends up, it won't be Goodison Park.

    Brexit: How a hung parliament changes UK-EU negotiations

    The 1998 Good Friday agreement set up power sharing in Northern Ireland, largely ending years of sectarian violence. Corbyn accused the Conservatives of undermining Britain's security by cutting the number of police on the streets.
  • Saudi king and Putin speak about Qatar crisis

    Nobody will allow them to block my country, ban our planes to fly through their territory and our ships stay in their ports. The four countries have cut off sea traffic to Qatar as part of severing diplomatic ties to the tiny, energy-rich nation.

    Cavaliers' LeBron James first to average triple-double in Finals

    Durant and LeBron James - who easily could've been named series MVP - waged an epic individual battle in the five-game series. Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving, who scored 26 points, was already turning the pain into passion for another run at the finals.
    French Open Prize Money 2017: Updated Purse Payout for Roland Garros

    French Open Prize Money 2017: Updated Purse Payout for Roland Garros

    Wawrinka is no slouch; he owns three major titles, including one from Roland Garros, and had never lost a Grand Slam final. Everyone will now look forward to grass courts and, of course, Wimbledon . "I enjoy playing tennis every week".
  • Tottenham striker Harry Kane would love England captaincy

    Tottenham striker Harry Kane would love England captaincy

    Gordon said both England goals were "difficult" to deal with. I am not someone who gets too irate or too low. Referee: P Tagliavento (Italy).

    Trump won't say if tapes exist; would testify under oath about Comey

    Comey would not say whether he thought Trump tried to obstruct justice, leaving that determination to Mueller. Asked if he would be willing to give his version of events under oath, Mr Trump replied: "100 percent".
    Election a disaster for PM May: Sturgeon

    Election a disaster for PM May: Sturgeon

    Her party won 35 seats in last week's General Election, down 21 from the 56 MPs it returned in 2015. The sentiment was also noted by CNN's Nic Robertson.