Martes, 24 Octubre, 2017

Puerto Ricans Weigh US Statehood Amid Economic Crisis

Puerto Ricans Weigh US Statehood Amid Economic Crisis Puerto Ricans Weigh US Statehood Amid Economic Crisis
Malita Javier | 10 Junio, 2017, 09:34

The US territory of Puerto Rico is holding a non-binding referendum on Sunday on the legal status of the Caribbean island.

First, some background. Traditionally, U.S. territory status was a temporary status on the way to statehood.

But the opposition Popular Democratic Party - which supports keeping the island's current status, though with more autonomy - has urged voters to boycott the vote. Under the current status, Puerto Ricans are born USA citizens, but those living on the island can't vote for president and have only one representative in Congress, a resident commissioner who cannot vote.

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"It's not that we're ignoring the plebiscite; we're ignoring the plight of Puerto Ricans", he said. In other words, depending on the issue, the US government could selectively treat Puerto Rico as a state of the United States, as an autonomous territory or as a foreign country.

This year's initial ballot excluded the option to vote for the status quo. The smaller Puerto Rican Independence Party has also called for a boycott, explained WSJ.

In 2012, when islanders took part in a similar referendum, 54 percent rejected Puerto Rico's current "commonwealth" status.

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Reina Jewell, who has family in Puerto Rico told 22News, the island becoming a state is long overdue.

Yet the island's economic woes make that a hard sell.

No. Referendums were held in 1967, 1993, 1998 and 2012. It is now engaged in an acrimonious battle with Wall Street creditors that invested in the island's bonds. Though President Donald Trump and both USA national parties have said they support allowing Puerto Ricans to choose their status, a statehood bid could face strong opposition. More importantly, data show most Puerto Ricans vote Democratic. A May 24-26 house-to-house poll published by local newspaper El Nuevo Dia found 52 percent of those interviewed favored statehood, compared with 17 percent for the status quo and 15 percent for free association/independence. Something that Charles Venator-Santiago, a political-science professor at the University of CT, says is "dead on arrival", because of the Republican control, explained WSJ. No clear majority emerged in the first three, with voters nearly evenly divided between statehood and the status quo. This exclusion prompted upwards of 500,000 voters to simply skip this question on the ballot as a form of protest. Because these parties are not planning to participate in Sunday's plebiscite, it is likely that the pro-statehood party will receive a majority of the votes in the plebiscite. "For decades, [the New Progressive Party] has tried, time and again, to manipulate the results of the plebiscite process", said Héctor Ferrer, president of the Popular Democratic Party.

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"It's all in Congress' hands", he said. "We are going to use every tool that we have", she said.

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