ONTD Political

Puerto Rico wants to become the 51st state of the US

5:29 pm - 11/07/2012
Voters in Puerto Rico have supported a non-binding referendum to become a full US state.

The measure will require approval from the US Congress, but President Barack Obama has said he will respect the vote.

The island is currently a US territory, which uses the dollar and whose citizens travel on US passports.

But it does not return senators to the US Congress and is represented in Washington by a non-voting delegate.

Almost 80% of the island's electorate took part in the referendum, the fourth in the past 45 years.

With almost all the votes counted, almost 54% voted to change the island's relationship with the US.

And in reply to a second question on what future they favoured, nearly two-thirds wanted full statehood.

If Congress grants its approval, Puerto Ricans would have the right to vote in all US elections, but would also have to pay federal taxes, something at present they are excused from.

The island came under US control in 1898 when Spain lost the island at the end of the Spanish-American war.

Ties were strengthened in 1917 when Puerto Ricans became US citizens and were allowed to serve in the military.

'No other option'
There are now almost a million more Puerto Ricans in the US than on the island.

Supreme Court judge Sonia Sotomayor, singer Jennifer Lopez and the former jazz musician Tito Puente are all of Puerto Rican descent, though all three were born in New York.

Ties between the island and the mainland are strong and many on the island considered it inevitable that a full union be requested.

A young voter in the capital San Juan, Jerome Lefebre, said: "Puerto Rico has to be a state. There is no other option.

"We're doing okay, but we could do better. We would receive more benefits, a lot more financial help."

But that opinion was rejected by Ramon Lopez de Azua: "Puerto Rico's problem is not its political status.

"I think that the United States is the best country in the world, but I am Puerto Rican first."

The island has been hit hard by the current recession - it has debts of $68bn (£42bn) and unemployment is more than 13%.

President Barack Obama, who visited the island last year, has said he will respect the will of Puerto Ricans if there is a clear majority.

Any change would require approval by the US Congress, but no territory has ever been denied a petition for admission to the States.

tadashee 8th-Nov-2012 12:30 am (UTC)
I don't know go congress will react.
beokitty 8th-Nov-2012 12:32 am (UTC)
What would they lose by becoming an official state? Unless they want sovereignty I think Puerto Ricans should be eligible for the same rights as all Americans. The idea of a territory leaves a bad colonial taste in my mouth.
the_physicist 8th-Nov-2012 12:40 am (UTC)
federal taxes apparently?
tabaqui 8th-Nov-2012 12:38 am (UTC)
Interesting. I'll have to ask my Puerto Rican friends in rl what they think.
trivalent 8th-Nov-2012 01:58 am (UTC)
The coworker I asked explained it as the measure was in two parts: 1) do you want things to stay the same or change (the majority was an addition of 'we want independence' and 'we want to become a state' people) and 2) if things change, what do you want it to be (state, independence, or whatever 'freedom of association' means). He said that most people who answered 'stay the same' in 1 didn't answer part 2, and that it's not that a majority who want to be a state, but a majority don't want it to be the same.
schexyschteve 8th-Nov-2012 12:40 am (UTC)
I don't know all the details of what it would mean, but it sounds like a good thing? At the very least, it would be pretty cool to see a new state in my lifetime!
purplerains 8th-Nov-2012 12:40 am (UTC)
Their vote should be respected... but, I cannot see congress approving.
tadashee 8th-Nov-2012 12:43 am (UTC)
Me either. :/. I was shocked that there are more in the US than on tbd island.
the_physicist 8th-Nov-2012 12:47 am (UTC)
interesting! thanks for posting this. it does sound like there might have been some confusion then :/
browneyedguuurl 8th-Nov-2012 12:53 am (UTC)
This referendum was a sham perpetuated by the current ruling power to secure the election in their favor, especially since they have done a shitty job of governing for the past 4 years. Since their party supports statehood and they knew everyone here was pissed as hell with the governor and his colleagues, they did this in a last ditch effort to win thinking people would vote down party lines because of it. Sadly, people here don't understand that becoming a state isn't financially viable for the US, especially in these times. Politicians promise these things in an effort to secure extra federal funds so that they can spread them around amongst themselves, donors and friends. I am truly sad about the current state of my country, it is depressing to see. But there is no way in hell Congress will ever approve this, especially since PR is so bankrupt thanks to years of corruption from government officials who have turned their civic duty into a giant ponzy scheme.
blackjedii 8th-Nov-2012 01:28 am (UTC)
If you did I would welcome you to this hot mess! Virginia need new pals anyway I mean we got North Carolina and West Virginia and stuff
mykaa 8th-Nov-2012 04:04 am (UTC)
If I were still living in PR I would have voted for this even if I disagree with everything the PNP stands for. But to me this was always a separate issue unlike my parents generation which directly connected the PNP party with statehood. Current PR generations grow up with so much US influence that this was just a matter of time.

That said PR is crime ridden and a complete and utter mess. I'm trying to convince all my family members to get out while they can.
scarletwool 8th-Nov-2012 04:16 am (UTC)
Either stay a territory or become independent. 50 states is enough.
mary_pickforded 8th-Nov-2012 04:30 am (UTC)
shhh_its_s3cr3t 8th-Nov-2012 04:49 am (UTC)
I honestly don't even see how this is even an issue right now. It seems to me - if I'm reading this right - they want us to absorb their debt gain federal funds and representation - but don't want to pay taxes or be seen as more than Puerto Ricans ie Americans?

Did I get that right?

Plus the GOP won't let anyone less than white play in the pool. I feel like if they had a shot they'd try to disavow Hawaii. :/
ennifer_jay 8th-Nov-2012 03:03 pm (UTC)
I'm surprised this hasn't received more coverage tbh.

I'm interested to hear what one of my good friends thinks. She identifies as Boricua, supports Young Lords, etc. IIRC she wants PR to become independent.

I already throw this in everyone's face when they use the THIS IS AMERICA SPEAK ENGLISH~~~ argument, but I can't wait to REALLY throw this in everyone's face.

ETA: We discussed this in one of my classes and weren't sure, but what would "sovereignty" mean?

Edited at 2012-11-08 03:04 pm (UTC)
mirhanda 8th-Nov-2012 10:41 pm (UTC)
I'm a bit confused about sovereignty too. Would that mean that all the people in the U.S. currently of Puerto Rican descent would have to leave the U.S.? Because that wouldn't seem fair at all to me. But then again, if they were not U.S. citizens, they'd have to go. It just seems like that could be a huge can of worms!

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