News / USA

    Puerto Rico Approves US Statehood Bid

    A pro-statehood New Progressive Party supporter waves his party's flag during their closing campaign rally in San Juan, Puerto Rico, November 3, 2012.
    A pro-statehood New Progressive Party supporter waves his party's flag during their closing campaign rally in San Juan, Puerto Rico, November 3, 2012.
    VOA News
    For the first time, voters in Puerto Rico have advanced a non-binding referendum calling for statehood, a provision that could only be granted by the U.S. Congress.

    A majority of voters voiced support for the measure Tuesday which calls for consideration of what would be the 51st U.S. state. Three previous ballot initiatives failed to get a majority of support.

    Article IV of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the authority to decide on state admissions. The last states admitted were Alaska and Hawaii in 1959.

    Although Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, they cannot vote for presidents. They also have no representation in the Senate and limited representation in the House of Representatives.

    Need for change

    Justin O'Brien, the head of the U.S. Council for Puerto Rico Statehood, says these are the key reasons the island's status needs to change.

    "The ability to participate in the government that passes laws and makes decisions that affect the livelihoods of all citizens, for 114 years, Puerto Ricans have not had that representation," said O'Brien.

    U.S. President Barack Obama has said he would support the will of the Puerto Rican people on statehood.  O'Brien says statehood is long overdue.

    "Puerto Ricans have been citizens since 1917 but the quality of their citizenship has been one that has been dis-equal, or unequal rather," O'Brien added.  "I think Puerto Ricans are clearly tired of that."

    O'Brien says he believes the territory will continue to push for statehood although pro-statehood Governor Luis Fortuno lost his re-election bid Tuesday to Alejandro Garcia Padilla, a pro-commonwealth lawmaker.

    In Tuesday's balloting, voters considered a two-question referendum that first asked if they favored the territory's current status. The second question allowed them to choose from three options, including one on statehood.

    The U.S. seized the island from Spain in 1898 during the Spanish-American War.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

    You May Like

    US, Allies Discuss Next Steps in Islamic State Fight

    Meeting comes a day after US Navy SEAL was killed while fighting Islamic State forces in northern Iraq

    In China, Traditional Banks Fight Challenge From Internet Firms

    Internet companies lent more than $150 billion to customers in 2015, which is an extremely small amount compared to the much larger lending by commercial banks last year

    Trump Faces Tough Presidential Odds Against Clinton

    Numerous national election surveys show former secretary of state defeating presumptive Republican nominee with tough talk to halt illegal immigration and temporarily block Muslims from entering country

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Jose Lopez from: Puerto Rico
    November 17, 2012 3:35 PM
    Dear Partner,

    Greetings!

    Those who accept colonialism do not believe in justice for all! Now that we know that
    the political parties will not solve this problem; I invite you to join the non-violent protest to demand that the United States (US) decolonize Puerto Rico (PR) immediately. It will be on Monday, June 17, 2013 from 8 AM to 5 PM outside the United Nations (UN) visitor’s entrance located on 46th Street and First Avenue in New York City.

    The UN has determined that colonialism is a crime against humanity in 1960 under Resolution 1514 (XV). That’s why the UN celebrates every year a hearing about Puerto Rico decolonization. Every year the UN puts forth a resolution asking the US to decolonize PR. Despite 30 of these resolutions, PR is still the oldest and most populated colony in the world! It is obvious by now that the US is not going to decolonize PR just because the UN asks.

    Through education, we must create a domestic and international solidarity with this cause to pressure the US to do what historically she has refused to do. This is why we need everyone who also believes that colonialism is a crime against humanity to join the protest to demand compliance to international law!

    Puerto Rico has been a colony of the US for 114 years. The US’ intention is to keep PR a colony forever unless we do something about it. It is important to note that: democracy isn’t what a government does. Democracy is what people do!
    President John F. Kennedy said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere.” These ideas, of course, are the reasons why the United Nations was created after World War II.

    It is up to us to defend the fundamental human rights that promote world peace. The tragedy of doing nothing is that we will have the kind of government that we deserve!

    Sincerely,

    José M. López Sierra

    For more information:
    www.TodosUnidosDescolonizarPR.blogspot.com
    Compañeros Unidos para la Descolonización de Puerto Rico

    by: Lola from: PR
    November 10, 2012 5:57 PM
    I am sad to hear despective comments about us. No one has mentioned that Puertorriquens soldiers have given their lives to defend the flag and constitution of the US of America. One of them is my son with 3 tours. He does it with proud because he believes in the American dream and for the future of his two kids. We have earned to become state 51 and that additional star in that great flag with the blood of our soldiers and much more. God bless America and Puerto Rico!!!
    In Response

    by: Tom M. from: Omaha, Nebraska
    November 11, 2012 10:23 AM
    Thank you for your comments, Lola. Many thanks to your son for his service in the US Military. My answer on whether Puerto Rico should become a state has always been the same: "Only if they want it." Since that referendum shows that you do, I believe you should be granted statehood. You're already part of the US. I worry that some Americans will make bigoted comments. Don't let that dissuade you.

    Also, it wasn't clear to me from your comments, if your son is living and serving the US military or if he died in that service. If he is still with us (and I sincerely hope so), please thank him for me. If he died in that service, please accept my condolences.

    by: ed mays from: brick nj
    November 09, 2012 10:02 PM
    This Puerto Rico referendum has been shot down many times before.....why? They don`t pay federal income taxes to my knowlege and the US Govt sends them billions every year for support. State or not let them pay federal taxes like everyone else.
    In Response

    by: Anthony from: Nashville
    November 10, 2012 4:35 PM
    Puerto Ricans ARE required to pay (most) federal taxes already. And if they were admitted as a state, they would pay even more. Although the PR government has its own tax laws, Puerto Ricans are ALSO required to pay most U.S. federal taxes, with the major exception being that SOME residents do not have to pay the federal personal income tax. In 2009, Puerto Rico paid $3.742 billion into the US Treasury. Residents of Puerto Rico pay into Social Security, and are thus eligible for Social Security benefits upon retirement. However, they are excluded from the Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and the island actually receives a small fraction of the Medicaid funding it would receive if it were a U.S. state. Also, Medicare providers receive less-than-full state-like reimbursements for services rendered to beneficiaries in Puerto Rico, even though the latter paid fully into the system. The federal taxes paid by Puerto Rico residents include import/export taxes, Federal commodity taxes, social security taxes, among others. Residents also pay Federal payroll taxes, such as Social Security and Medicare taxes.

    by: DC outsider from: DC
    November 09, 2012 5:13 PM
    Let them form their own Country. That way they can 100% Representation that they pay for. Nothing in this article mentions that they will need to pay US Federal Income taxes. They will be an additional drag on a Country that can't even take care of itself right now. We don't need any more takers, we need more makers.
    In Response

    by: Puerto Rican, from: SC
    November 10, 2012 11:37 AM
    Are you serious? Let them form their own country? You must not know anything about Puerto Rico. They would not survive as an independent country. Only 6% voted for independence. If Puerto Rico has had ties with the United States since before Alaska and Hawaii were admitted why end them now? This is the right thing, Puerto Ricans need statehood.

    by: DavidRMartin from: Atlanta, GA
    November 09, 2012 11:39 AM
    "A majority of voters voiced support for the measure Tuesday which calls for consideration of what would be the 51st U.S. state." - this statement and the title are inaccurate and misleading.

    While 61.2% of ballots cast for a PRE-DEFINED status choice selected statehood, only 44.6% of ALL ballots were for statehood. About 480,000 ballots consisted of inscrutable "no answer" and "protest" ballots.

    Counting all ballots, 55.4% chose a status OTHER than statehood.

    In Response

    by: Jose from: South Carolina
    November 10, 2012 11:40 AM
    Since when do blank votes count? Obama didn't win by blank votes? Blank votes mean they don't want to express their opinion, that being said it doesn't matter if they were protesters, the vote doesn't count because it is blank. 61% voted statehood, while 55.4% voted something else. The 61% still is higher, even if the blank votes do count, 6% more people said statehood and thats all that matters.

    by: NA from: PR
    November 09, 2012 11:21 AM
    There is no way that PR should be allowed to become a USA state. The government in PR is completely incompetent and the infrastructure is inefficient and dysfunctional.
    PR should be sold or, if no one wants to buy it, it should be given away.

    by: Jacob from: San Buenaventura
    November 09, 2012 10:37 AM
    It is quite the scandal that they can't vote.
    I'm shocked this hasn't been fixed, even if they aren't a state yet.

    They should let them vote in presidential elections immediately and then they can take their time figuring out territorial status or statehood.

    Seriously, Puerto Rico is far more loyal than Texas or California. What's to be suspicious of?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora