Puerto Ricans Vote For Their Country To Become America's 51st State

The Chicago Tribune reported that out of the island's 2.26 million registered voters only an estimated 23 percent participated in the polls.

Puerto Ricans voted overwhelmingly on Sunday (June 11) to become a USA state in a non-binding referendum - but the result was marred by an extremely low turnout after opposition parties called for a boycott of the poll.

FALN claimed responsibility for more than 100 bombings in the USA and Puerto Rico, including a lunchtime blast in 1975 that killed four people at New York's historic Fraunces Tavern.

As New York's annual Puerto Rican Day Parade moved along Fifth Avenue, voters on the home island cast ballots overwhelmingly endorsing statehood.

In the 1998 referendum, the top choice among Puerto Ricans was "none of the above" while in 2012 referendum voted heavily in favor of statehood, with the rest of the ballots left blank.

"Let's send a loud and clear message to the United States and the entire world", he said in a statement on Saturday. Puerto Rico's attempt to restructure its debt, a bankruptcy-like proceeding tailor-made for its status as a territory, vastly outpaces similar municipal bankruptcies like Detroit's $18.5 billion Chapter 9 filing in 2013.

While many danced the salsa and cheered the procession, a small portion of the crowd booed the appearance Oscar Lopez Rivera, a political activist, who spent 35 years in prison for his involvement with the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN), a group that has for decades struggled for independence of the island nation.

Puerto Ricans head to polls Sunday with one question in mind: Should the US territory seek to become the country's 51st state?

Former governor Anibal Acevedo Vila said in an interview: "A 97 per cent win is the kind of result you get in a one-party regime".

"The governor lost, statehood lost". He also said that even among voters who supported statehood, turnout was lower this year compared with the last referendum in 2012.

Puerto Rico's economy has been in recession since 2006, according to the General Accounting Office, and its levels of employment and labor force participation are relatively low, compared with those of the US states. They are citizens of the United States, but they're not allowed to vote for president and they don't pay federal income taxes.

According to figures released on the State Election Commission Web site, a total of 476,635 people voted for statehood for the U.S. commonwealth.

Rossello's New Progressive Party (PNP) party, which controls Puerto Rico's government, is premised on a pro-statehood stance, while the opposition Popular Democratic Party (PPD) supports versions of the current territory status and a third party, the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), supports independence. "The participation rate was almost 23 percent with roughly 2.26 million registered voters".

"I think it's good that he declined it because it was entirely distracting from the issue at hand, which is Puerto Rico", Mayor Bill de Blasio, who planned to march all along, said last week.

Directly behind him was a marching band from Lorain, Ohio, whose members voiced similar concerns about Puerto Rico's financial condition but disagreed about the solution.

According to a Congressional Research Service report 61.2 percent of Puerto Rico residents chose statehood, but nothing came of it.

That will make it harder for Rosselló to convince Congress that statehood has a mandate on the island. The US Congress did not act on that referendum.

  • Leroy Wright