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Puerto Rico votes to become 51st state of the US

Puerto Rico votes to become 51st state of the US”

However, Puerto Rico is now exempt from the federal income tax, and opponents of statehood say beginning to pay it is a non-starter for a place where everything from electricity to basic groceries is more expensive than US cities.

A government website for the status referendum, Puerto Rico's fifth since 1967, showed 97 percent of roughly 485,000 votes counted so far in favor of becoming the 51st US state.

"Puerto Rico voted for statehood", said Gov. Pedro Rossello.

No clear majority emerged in the first three referendums on status, with voters nearly evenly divided between statehood and the status quo.

Puerto Rico's two main opposition parties boycotted Sunday's vote. This is in stark contrast to the last plebiscite held in 2012 - in which 1,363,854 people, or 78.19 percent of registered voters, cast a ballot. She said: "As Resident Commissioner I will take this to Congress and defend it".

However, critics have called the referendum "meaningless" and an "absolute, unmitigated disaster".

Ricardo Rossello said Sunday that the island has sent a strong and clear message to U.S. Congress and the world. This year, it came on the day Puerto Ricans were voting in the referendum among three choices: independence, statehood or their current territorial status.

The island's government says it can not meet all of its $72bn debt obligations.

If made a state, Puerto Rico would be the poorest of the 51 states.

Lopez Rivera said last week he wouldn't accept the National Freedom Hero title, which organizers at first granted him, but would join the parade as a regular citizen, partly because the focus was too much on him and not enough on Puerto Rico's plight.

The standing of this tropical Caribbean island in relation to the USA has been the running sore, and dominant topic of local conversation, ever since it was handed to Washington as war booty at the end of the Spanish-American war of 1898. In 1992 nearly 2 million Puerto Ricans voted.

Statehood would allow Puerto Ricans to claim full welfare benefits available to US citizens, but would compel residents to begin paying federal taxes on income obtained on the island. He recalled that in elections in the United States, between 30% to 55% of eligible voters cast their vote to elect their president and representatives in congress.

As that crisis continues to worsen, with cuts to pensions and a high cost of living, Suarez said to expect more Puerto Ricans to move to Florida with the hope of a brighter future. They now do not pay United States income taxes on earnings obtained on the island.

However, Sunday's non-binding referendum, the fifth that the land has held on the issue, was marred by low voter participation. According to the commission's numbers, 300,000 fewer people voted for statehood on Sunday than in 2012. If it fails to do so, Puerto Rico's status will remain as it is. "We need to be able to decide our own fate", said Liliana Laboy, one of the organizers of the protest.

"In any democracy, the expressed will of the majority that participates in the electoral processes always prevails", Rossello said.

President Trump signaled during his presidential campaign that he is open to Puerto Rico officially becoming a state. "So I think this event really had little significance for the region".



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