President Barack Obama on Tuesday visited the U.S. commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
With a greeting of “Good afternoon” in Spanish, President Obama began his five-hour visit to Puerto Rico and offered support for next year’s vote on the island’s future.
Puerto Ricans will have the choice of becoming an independent nation, becoming America’s 51st state or remaining a U.S. territory.
“And when the people of Puerto Rico make a clear decision, my administration will stand by you," said President Obama.
The president’s visit to Puerto Rico fulfills a promise he made in his 2008 campaign.
Puerto Ricans cannot vote in U.S. general elections, but more Puerto Ricans live on the U.S. mainland than on the island. Many are in Florida and North Carolina, states the president will need to win in next year’s election.
Mr. Obama is the first president to make an official visit to Puerto Rico since John F. Kennedy in 1961.
And he echoed some of the same concerns.
“In that same spirit, we have been trying to make sure that every family on the island can find work and make a living and provide for their children," said Obama. "That is why our economic plan and our health care reform included help for Puerto Rico.”
The president’s brief visit to the island included a meeting with the territory’s governor and other political officials.