Economy

Puerto Rico approves statehood in non-binding referendum

Puerto Rico approves statehood in non-binding referendum”

Puerto Rican resident Maria Quinones looks carefully at her ballot with a magnifying glass before voting during the fifth referendum on the island's status, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, June 11, 2017. Puerto Ricans are getting the chance to tell U.S. Congress on Sunday which.

Sunday's referendum was the fifth for Puerto Rico. The referendum is non-binding and Congress would have to approve it which is unlikely since the island is facing serious debt and unemployment crisis.

"I think it is really rather unlikely that Puerto Rico will become the 51st state in a xenophobic administration like the one that we have in the USA at the moment".

Ricardo Rossello said Sunday that the island has sent a strong and clear message to U.S. Congress and the world.

According to preliminary results, nearly half a million votes were cast for statehood, with just 7600 for independence and 6700 to stay the same.

Almost half a million Puerto Ricans have fled to the USA mainland to escape the island's 10-year economic recession and 12 percent unemployment rate.

Statehood supporters were expected to dominate the vote because three parties that favor other options were boycotting, including the island's main opposition party.

Lopez Rivera's supporters, including "Hamilton" playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda and other celebrities, view him as a symbol of Puerto Rican nationalism and the campaign to end what they see as the colonial status of the USA territory, acquired by the United States after the Spanish-American War.

A majority of the Puerto Rican voters for the first time voted for seeking U.S. statehood back in 2012, when a total of 54% voted in favor. For the longest time, the territory has pleaded to become the 51 state but this request has been repeatedly turned down.

Governor Ricardo Rossello, right, and Congresswoman representing Puerto Rico Jennifer Gonzalez celebrate the results of a referendum on the status of the island, at the New Progressive Party headquarters in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sunday, June 11, 2017.

But rival parties on the island - the Popular Democratic Party and the Puerto Rican Independence Party - support a kind of continued territory status or independence, respectively.

"The governor lost, statehood lost", Ferrer said. The board recommended, among many measures, to cut US$300 million to $500 million from the Puerto Rican state government budget.

In a previous referendum in 2012, Puerto Ricans overwhelmingly rejected statehood.

"Puerto Ricans are very proud of being Puerto Ricans, Spanish speakers, they have a strong culture and identity and becoming a state could mean that they will start to speak English and they could lose their cultural identity and become a minority in the U.S.". Should Puerto Rico be admitted to the union if a representative majority of its residents vote for it? 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.

The landslide victory led many critics to believe that only those who supported statehood went to the polls.

Puerto Rico is suffering from about $123 billion in debt and has been battling a recession for the past 10 years.

The plebiscite offered three choices on the ballot: statehood, independence or remaining a self-governing territory in the USA commonwealth.

The constraints placed on the population by a distant colonial power have had a particularly destructive impact in the last few years when Puerto Rico's lack of economic flexibility has contributed to a devastating financial crisis.



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