Should Puerto Rico become the 51st state?

"We will go before worldwide forums to defend the argument of the importance of Puerto Rico being the first Hispanic state in the United States", Rossello said, appearing with his wife Beatriz Areizaga Garcia in the northeastern city of Guaynabo.

Puerto Ricans will be presented with three options: Statehood, Independence/Free Association and Current Territorial Status (commonwealth).

The ballot language was not approved by the U.S. Justice Department, which rejected an earlier version because it did not allow voters to endorse the territorial status quo. He also said that even among voters who supported statehood, turnout was lower this year compared with the last referendum in 2012.

Meantime, right after the credit rating agencies reduced the island's bonds to junk status, vulture funds swooped in to buy up numerous island's heavily discounted bonds, hoping/thinking/planning/expecting to reap a windfall when the US taxpayers finally bailed out the island and paid off the bonds at face value.

Sunday's referendum is the fifth for Puerto Rico. Although the 3 million residents of Puerto Rico are USA citizens, advocates for statehood say the island's current status makes it harder to meet its financial obligations.

According to The Hill, a similar situation arose in 2012 when Puerto Rico voted to become a state but statehood opponents claimed it wasn't a legitimate vote because the turnout was not high enough to give a proper representation of the Puerto Rican people. Over 97% of the votes were for statehood, but turnout was very low.

"What is really best for my island, and what is really the best for the United States?"

"The governor lost, statehood lost", Ferrer said. That works out to just under 1% of the island's population, a very similar percentage that most other states have joining the US military each year.

Many islanders see the United States authority as an intolerable stranglehold, especially considering that President Donald Trump has several times argued against bailing out the territory.

Puerto Rico is not an independent country and has been a USA territory since 1898 after the country acquired the island from Spain following the Spanish-American War. That would mean a 30 percent cut to the administrative budget of the University of Puerto Rico.

"The cost of statehood on the pocketbook of every citizen, every business, every industry will be devastating", Carlos Delegado, secretary of the opposition Popular Democratic Party, told AP. He has argued that the if statehood is achieved, it would help the attempts of Puerto Rico to handle its debt crisis.

The 4.2 million Puerto Ricans living in the mainland U.S. are the second-largest subgroup of the Hispanic population (after Mexican-Americans), according to U.S. Census data, and the population on the mainland surpasses that of Puerto Rico.

The BBC posits this reluctance might arise from two reasons: a GOP-led Congress would be wary of admitting a Democratic-leaning electorate like Puerto Rico's, and the debt-troubled island would likely require more federal spending to get back on its feet.

If accepted, the island will become the 51st state of the U.S., more than 50 years after Hawaii joined. And Congress, the ultimate arbiter of the island's bid for statehood, never picked up the matter. "Whatever we might receive in additional federal funds will be canceled by the amount of taxes the island will have to pay".

  • Leroy Wright