Puerto Rico overwhelming votes to become U.S. state, but likely won't

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Puerto Rico overwhelming votes to become U.S. state, but likely won't

However, an expected pushback from the US Congress - the only body which can approve the status of new states - and a boycott by opposition parties are not going to help the Puerto Ricans who voted in favour of statehood. Almost half a million votes were cast for statehood, about 7,600 for free association/independence and almost 6,700 for independence.

Puerto Ricans overwhelmingly chose statehood on Sunday in a non-binding vote in a vote that will likely change absolutely nothing with regards to the USA territory's status. In 1917, the islanders were granted United States citizenship, but they continue to labour under a political half-life in which they can elect their own local government and governor but cannot vote in federal elections. Residents can not vote despite being considered citizens and they have a representative in Congress who is more or less just an observer with no real legislative powers.

The first three referenda were inconclusive, with voters split on statehood versus the status quo.

Governor Rosselló noted that statehood received 97% of the support, which represents more than 500,000 votes; a participation of about 33% compared to the voters in the November 2016 election event.

The governor of Puerto Rico, Ricard Rosselló, has announced that he is to visit Washington in the next phase of his campaign to turn the island into the 51st state of the United States. The DOJ in its letter pointed out that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizenship by birth, asking that the "potentially misleading" statement be removed.

"Puerto Rico is actually dealing with a huge economic and debt crisis" and its economy has shrunk ten percent in the last ten years; 45 percent of people there live below the poverty line.

Lopez Rivera said last week he would not accept the title of "National Freedom Hero" and would instead join the parade as a regular citizen, in part because the focus was too much on him and not enough on the plight of Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans are getting the chance to tell U.S. Congress on Sunday which political status they believe best benefits the U.S. territory as it remains mired in a deep economic crisis that has triggered an exodus of islanders to the U.S mainland.

"We are worse off than I thought, in the sense that we don't give a damn what happens to this island", said Jose Miranda, a retired TV and radio producer who lived 30 years in the USA mainland and is returning because he believes life is better over there.

According to U.S. Representative Nydia Velázquez, because the turnout was so low, the results can not be trusted. While Puerto Ricans are American citizens and contribute to Social Security and Medicare, they do not vote for the USA president, and their single representative in Congress has no vote.

The 2017 Plebiscite for the Immediate Decolonization of Puerto Rico was held on June 11. If Congress does not pass a statute, Puerto Rico's status will remain as it is.

It would also mean more federal spending on what would become the poorest state in the US.

"We need a change in the way we're living", he said. Congress has to make that decision.

"I don't think [the organizers] anticipated the kind of blowback that they would get in the environment post-9/11 by inviting this kind of person, " said Angelo Falcon, president of the National Institute for Latino Policy in NY.

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