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Montevideo, March 25th 2023 - 01:59 UTC



Majority of Puerto Rico voters, 54%, favour becoming a full US state

Thursday, November 8th 2012 - 01:45 UTC
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Supreme Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor and Jennifer Lopez are of Puerto Rican descent Supreme Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor and Jennifer Lopez are of Puerto Rican descent

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.

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.

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

President 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 Union.

Top Comments

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  • MichaelLocke

    Self-determination at work, Argies.

    Nov 08th, 2012 - 02:40 am 0
  • GeoffWard2

    If it happens, the UN C24 decolonisation committee will immediately file a case that Puerto Rico has been colonised by 'Americans'.

    Nov 08th, 2012 - 10:07 am 0
  • Anbar

    ha, yes indeed,.. cant wait to see the “all-powerful” c24 complaining that this is “usurption” and “colonialism” or that the people do not deserve the right of self-determination.

    Could be a nice precedent for the FI though... it would be VERY hard for the US NOT to support the FI if they go ahead with this integration.

    Nov 08th, 2012 - 10:19 am 0
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