Puerto Rican vote shows overwhelming support for USA statehood

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The US territory of Puerto Rico has voted to ask Congress to make it America's 51st state.

Congress has the final say over whether the territory changes its status, making the vote merely an advisory opinion.

Many groups who support the status quo urged a boycott of the vote, while others just didn't turn up because it was a non-binding referendum.

He argues that statehood would help Puerto Rico in its attempt to face down its debt crisis. Some Puerto Ricans blame the recession on the USA government, partly because of the elimination of tax credits that many say led to the collapse of the island's manufacturing sector.

"I would like to see Puerto Rico become a state, " said Sonia Vargas, 51, a Brooklyn-born bookkeeper who now lives in Ohio.

Puerto Rico's former governor, Rafael Hernandez Colon, said in a statement: "A contrived plebiscite fabricated an artificial majority for statehood by disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of Commonwealth supporters".

"Eight out of 10 voters went to the beach, went to the river, went to go eat, went to go hang out, went to church, but they sure didn't go out to vote", said opposition party leader Héctor Ferrer at a San Juan press conference according to NBC News. Puerto Rico has been a US territory since the Spanish-American War in 1898.

Puerto Ricans have been U.S. citizens since 1917, however, as residents of a commonwealth territory rather than a state they can't vote for president in the USA general election. The Associated Press reported that almost half a million votes were cast for statehood, but the participation rate was just 23%, leading opponents to question the validity of the vote. Turnout was the lowest of any vote on the island in over 50 years with nearly eight out of 10 voters not even showing up at the polls.

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The team did not immediately respond to an email or voicemail requesting comment. Harreld in the booth", the release said.

Many Puerto Ricans attribute the malaise plaguing the island to Washington's power over them.

Opponents of statehood worry the island would lose its cultural identity and warn that Puerto Rico would struggle even more financially because it would be forced to pay millions of dollars in federal taxes. In 1992 nearly 2 million Puerto Ricans voted.

About 5.4 million Puerto Ricans live on the US mainland, a number that is growing because of an exodus of people who can not find jobs or continue school on the depressed island. Numerous voters who came out to vote Sunday morning are over 50 and retired, and, like Abreu, hope to see their island become economically competitive through joining the other 50 us states. Today we are sending a strong and clear message for equal rights as American citizens.

"In the democratic process there is no such thing as a boycott", he said.

Gov. Ricardo Rosello shows his ballot at the San Jose Academy during the fifth referendum in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sunday, June 11, 2017.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - Puerto Rico's governor is vowing to turn the USA territory into the 51st state after statehood won in a non-binding referendum hit by a boycott and low turnout that raised questions about the vote's legitimacy. Those who remain behind have been hit with new taxes and higher utility bills on an island where food is 22 percent more expensive than the USA mainland and public services are 64 percent more expensive.

The Caribbean island has been a United States territory since 1898.

A department spokesman told the AP that the agency has not reviewed or approved the ballot's language. Take the last two referendums in 1998 and in 2012 for example. Federal officials in April rejected the original version, in part because it did not offer the territory's current status as an option.