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?
beokitty 8th-Nov-2012 12:45 am (UTC)
idk, with the exception of DC no taxation w/o representation so I see that as part of the deal.
cindel 8th-Nov-2012 01:16 am (UTC)
Federal funding.
chaya 8th-Nov-2012 02:06 am (UTC)
Piiiiiiiiiiiiiiles of cash
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.
tabaqui 8th-Nov-2012 03:12 am (UTC)
Huh. Interesting. Thanks!
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.
mykaa 8th-Nov-2012 04:07 am (UTC)
That's because they don't fit anymore on the island.
fishnet_hamster 8th-Nov-2012 03:14 am (UTC)
I'm not sure why Congress wouldn't approve. Wouldn't a new state mean more economic contributions?
clarice_01 8th-Nov-2012 05:47 am (UTC)
But apparently it would be a dem state, so congress wouldn't approve.
mirhanda 8th-Nov-2012 10:31 pm (UTC)
Are they considered non-white though? I thought there were various races on the island. IDK, I've only ever been to the airport there to change planes.
mykaa 8th-Nov-2012 11:18 pm (UTC)
Every census 90% of the PR population would select white as a race even if it's a largely melting pot of mixed races, and that was when Hispanic was a race option.
bestdaywelived 8th-Nov-2012 03:28 pm (UTC)
Agreed. There is an attitude that Puerto Rico waited too long - when the country was prosperous and they were doing well, they should have done this, not when they are become overrun with serious crime issues and fiscal challenges in order to take federal funding to clean it up.
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 :/
ragnor144 8th-Nov-2012 01:44 am (UTC)
This seems to be in line with previous votes that had three choices: no change, statehood, or independence. There was never a majority under these circumstances.
latin_lunatic 8th-Nov-2012 04:04 am (UTC)
The last one had one more option. I remember because it won. It was "None of the Above"
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
ragnor144 8th-Nov-2012 01:48 am (UTC)
Thanks for the background. I would be happy to have a new state, especially one that would likely piss off Republicans. But I believe in self determination done openly and honestly.

edit: oops - meant to post this one level up.

Edited at 2012-11-08 01:49 am (UTC)
browneyedguuurl 8th-Nov-2012 03:18 am (UTC)
No problem! The reaction from the GOP and the radicals have made me so weary about becoming a state. I don't want to be part of a country where half of it hates us for being Hispanics. The comments at HuffPost in the article explaining this made me want to cry.
latin_lunatic 8th-Nov-2012 04:15 am (UTC)
Good God, why did I read those? I wish I had stopped at the first mention of welfare.
browneyedguuurl 8th-Nov-2012 03:17 am (UTC)
Awww! Thanks bb! :)

I'm conflicted. I love the US and living in Miami, but I don't know how I feel about becoming a state.
latin_lunatic 8th-Nov-2012 01:58 am (UTC)
I had a feeling it was something like this. Puerto Rico is so fucked right now. :c

Edited at 2012-11-08 01:58 am (UTC)
browneyedguuurl 8th-Nov-2012 03:26 am (UTC)
It is. It breaks my heart. Politicians have basically stolen so much fucking money it's insane. There are barely any jobs, power bills are through the roof, crime and drugs are rampant. It's a fucking mess.
mykaa 8th-Nov-2012 03:59 am (UTC)
My mother pays over $300 each month by herself and she's only there before going to work and nights. When we visit it jumps to over $500. Ridiculous.
paksenarrion2 8th-Nov-2012 05:45 am (UTC)
If PR truly wanted to become a State, we would welcome you with open arms. Well those of us that weren't bigoted Repugnicant asswipes that is.

And I wish there were a way to fix things for y'all. Sounds like a lot of your elected leaders need to get the heave-ho. Corrupt politicians suck. :(
mirhanda 8th-Nov-2012 10:38 pm (UTC)
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. :/
shhh_its_s3cr3t 9th-Nov-2012 05:56 am (UTC)
Thanks - i am very uneducated on this topic.
mirhanda 8th-Nov-2012 10:39 pm (UTC)
I don't think they'd get rid of Hawaii. The naval base is too important.
shhh_its_s3cr3t 9th-Nov-2012 05:57 am (UTC)
This is an excellent point. Thank you!
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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