Puerto Rico mulls political status in new referendum

Aaron Brown
June 13, 2017

Governor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Rossello said in an address after Sunday's vote, "The people spoke and the US will have to obey the will of our people".

But that didn't stop Gov. Ricardo Rossello from vowing to push ahead with his administration's quest to make the island the 51st US state and declaring that "Puerto Rico voted for statehood".

Almost half a million votes were cast for statehood.

This is the fifth political status referendum held in Puerto Rico in the past 50 years. "It would be highly contradictory for Washington to demand democracy in other parts of the world, and not respond to the legitimate right to self-determination that was exercised today in the American territory of Puerto Rico".

Decades ago, FALN claimed responsibility for more than 100 bombings in the US and Puerto Rico, including a lunchtime blast in 1975 that killed four people at New York's historic Fraunces Tavern.

Governor Rossello disputed the figures from the electoral commission, claiming that the electorate was 1.6 million people, and therefore the turnout out was 33%, rather than 23%. "If we were a state, we would have the same rights".

Many Puerto Ricans doubt Congress can be convinced to incorporate the island, especially in the island's current economic condition, The New York Times reported.

If made a state, Puerto Rico would be the poorest of the 51 states. While Puerto Ricans are American citizens and contribute to Social Security and Medicare, they do not vote for the USA president, and their single representative in Congress has no vote.

Rather than heading to the polls, some 500 Puerto Ricans marched on the streets of San Juan, waving Puerto Rico's flag and chanting in support of independence. But he faces an uphill struggle impressing his case on the US Congress, which holds ultimate power over Puerto Rico, given the historically low turnout of the vote and the boycott staged by opposition parties.

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A majority of the Puerto Rican voters for the first time voted for seeking US statehood back in 2012, when a total of 54% voted in favor. She is dependent on the USA military.

Suarez also said Puerto Rico's current economic crisis works against the island's bid for statehood. Thanks to its triple-tax-exemption (interest is free from federal, state, or local income taxation), individual investors and tax-exempt bond funds have been soaking up the island's debt offerings for years, allowing it to spend far beyond its means.

That will make it harder for Rosselló to convince Congress that statehood has a mandate on the island.

Puerto Rico has a huge debt load of $70 billion - or about $20,000 for every man, woman and child living on the island.

But other parties such as the Popular Democratic Party and the Puerto Rican Independence Party have supported the choice of continuing with the current territory status or of complete independence respectively.

Recalling FALN's notorious terrorist past and more than 120 bomb attacks on U.S. targets, a number of U.S. groups, including the NYPD Hispanic Society and the Rafael Ramos Foundation boycotted the parade.

Congress will have to approve the outcome of Sunday's referendum.

Following the results, Governor Ricardo Roselló said, "An overwhelming majority voted for statehood".

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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