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Puerto Rico could become U.S. state with approval from Congress

HOTtopic041212_optBY BOB HOLT
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

A non-binding referendum regarding statehood for Puerto Rico showed mixed results from the territory.

Puerto Ricans were asked to vote on two questions regarding their status on Tuesday.

The first question asked whether voters wanted the island to maintain its current status. An Associated Press report on Yahoo! News said that question two asked what they wanted Puerto Rico to do among three options: become a state, receive sovereign free-association, or to receive independence.

Fifty-four percent of voters wanted to change Puerto Rico’s status, while 61 percent chose statehood in question two.

But according to an Associated Press report in The Clarion-Ledger, 450,000 voters left question two blank. Luis Delgado Rodriguez, supporting sovereign free association, said that the blank votes, along with those of the people who backed independence and sovereign free association, represented an overwhelming majority against statehood.

The referendum was the initiative of Governor Luis Fortuño, a member of the New Progressive Party, who support statehood for Puerto Rico. But Fortuño was defeated in the governor's race by Alejandro Garcia Padilla of the Popular Democratic Party, who are in favor of Puerto Rico retaining its status as a commonwealth, according to the Latin American Herald Tribune.

Puerto Rico has been a self-governing, unincorporated territory of the United States since 1952. It is broadly self-governing, but cannot have its own foreign policy.

BBC reports that Congress has final approval on Puerto Rico becoming a state. If it does, Puerto Ricans would receive the right to vote in U.S. elections, but also be required to pay federal taxes.

Puerto Ricans became U.S. citizens in 1917 and were permitted to serve in the military. Currently there are about a million more Puerto Ricans in the U.S. than in Puerto Rico. The island currently has a 13 percent unemployment rate.

 

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