Puerto Rico votes in favor of statehood

"The current government of the Island entered the process and when it took longer than they wanted they made a decision to ignore the U.S. Justice Department's plea for more time to evaluate the validity of the ballot language.Sadly, today's vote will thus go down in history as yet another non-binding glorified poll with no real effect on resolving Puerto Rico's relationship with the United States".

Rossello, meanwhile, said after the results became known that the "historic" triumph of the statehood option is a call "to put an end to the colonial relationship with the United States" and is a "clear and strong message" to the world and the US Congress, which must approve any admission of Puerto Rico into the Union, that Puerto Ricans want US statehood.

Almost half a million votes were cast for statehood, about 7,600 for free association/independence and almost 6,700 for the current territorial status, according to preliminary results.

But many are concerned about the vote's validity given the presence of several opposition parties who boycotted the referendum as well as the dismal turnout rate.

Votes were still being counted and the expected outcome is unlikely to change Puerto Rico's label as a U.S. territory, a move that would require an act of the U.S. Congress. So the statehood party got a little over 500,000 votes.

A woman exits the voting booth in San Juan during Puerto Rico's non-binding referendum Sunday. The administration of Gov. Ricardo Rossello added it and sent the ballot back for review, but the department said it needed more time and asked that the vote be postponed, which it wasn't.

A non-binding referendum in Puerto Rico asking for the nation's future has had a very firm result: citizens want to become a proper part of the US. Some Puerto Ricans blame the recession on the US government, partly because of the elimination of tax credits that many say led to the collapse of the island's manufacturing sector. Puerto Rico came under court protection after Rossello declared the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history. They also lack full representation in Congress, where only a non-voting commissioner is able to represent the territory.

In a previous referendum in 2012, Puerto Ricans overwhelmingly rejected statehood.

"They don't have the majority", said Ferrer at a press conference.

The US through laws enacted allows a governor for the territory to be elected and the current Governor, Ricardo Rossello while campaigning for his election had promised a referendum in the event of his win.

The bubble ultimately popped and, unable to repay creditors, Puerto Rico declared bankruptcy in early May - the largest ever by a local U.S. government. "Whatever we might receive in additional federal funds will be canceled by the amount of taxes the island will have to pay".

"This Sunday's plebiscite wastes millions of dollars and is not a good use of the time and energy we must devote to solving the fiscal and economic crisis of Puerto Rico". Although the U.S. DOJ did not offer any reasons for not certifying the plebiscite, the most likely reason is a dispute over the language of the ballot, which was the subject of a memorandum the DOJ sent to the Governor of Puerto Rico in April.

  • Leroy Wright