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

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    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.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora