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

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

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.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid