Health Care

Should Puerto Rico become the 51st state?

Should Puerto Rico become the 51st state?

If Congress does not pass a statute, Puerto Rico's status will remain as it is.

The US Congress will now decide the fate of its Spanish-speaking territory that is currently in economic turmoil. "She uses US currency".

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Five years after the last plebiscite on the same issue, Puerto Ricans overwhelmingly voted for US statehood for their island in a non-binding referendum on Sunday.

According to the New York Daily News, with 97% of the votes supporting statehood, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló is ready to head to Washington carry out "the will of our people". The Republican-majority U.S. Congress is unlikely to approve statehood, since Democratic-leaning Puerto Rico would acquire two senators and several House members.

The campaign director and vice president of the governing PNP party, Thomas Rivera Schatz, meanwhile, defended the statehood win and downplayed the significance of the loss of votes the option received relative to the November 2012 plebiscite on the same subject.

Dr. Gibran Cruz-Martinez, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Agder, Norway, told Radio Sputnik that calls from all major opposition parties to boycott the vote resulted in low participation of just 23 percent, one-third of the number of people who voted in the 2012 referendum.

Becoming the 51st star on the USA flag would instill "new hope" in Puerto Ricans, she told AFP, as well as sorely needed economic aid.

Those who oppose statehood worry the island will lose its cultural identity and warn that Puerto Rico will struggle even more financially because it will be forced to pay millions of dollars in federal taxes. "They don't realize that people fight in American wars and pay social security".

What's Puerto Rico's current status?

"We are worse off than I thought, in the sense that we don't give a damn what happens to this island", said Jose Miranda, a retired TV and radio producer who lived 30 years in the USA mainland and is returning because he believes life is better over there.

Under the current system, Puerto Rico's 3.5 million American citizens do not pay federal taxes, vote for US presidents or receive proportionate federal funding on programs like Medicaid, though the USA government oversees policy and financial areas such as infrastructure, defense and trade. More than 1 million are in NY.

The recession-racked island finds itself mired in upwards of $120 billion in debt - including public-sector bills and money owed to pension funds - and its struggle with creditors landed in court last month.

Lopez Rivera was convicted of seditious conspiracy. When the prison sentence was commuted in January, "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda tweeted that he was "sobbing with gratitude".

Thousands lined Fifth Avenue for the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade. Although Lopez River said he would decline the award, he still occupied a place of honor at the front of the parade.

Some corporate sponsors dropped out of the celebrations this year after parade organizers chose to grant the title of "National Freedom Hero" to Oscar Lopez Rivera.

According to Decision Desk HQ, as of around 4 p.m.

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