Puerto Rican electorate behind statehood in questioned referendum

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico’s administrator announced that a U.S. domain overwhelmingly chose statehood on Sunday in a nonbinding referendum hold amid a low mercantile predicament that has sparked an exodus of islanders to a U.S. mainland.


Nearly half a million votes were expel for statehood, about 7,600 for giveaway association/independence and scarcely 6,700 for a stream territorial status, according to rough results. Voter audience was usually 23 percent, heading opponents to doubt a effect of a opinion that several domestic parties had urged their supporters to boycott.

And a U.S. Congress has final contend in any changes to Puerto Rico’s domestic status.

But that didn’t stop Gov. Pedro Rossello from vowing to pull forward with his administration’s query to make a island a 51st U.S. state and dogmatic that “Puerto Rico voted for statehood.” He pronounced he would emanate a elect to safeguard that Congress countenance a referendum’s results.

“In any democracy, a voiced will of a infancy that participates in a electoral processes always prevails,” Rossello said. “It would be rarely paradoxical for Washington to direct democracy in other tools of a world, and not respond to a legitimate right to self-determination that was exercised currently in a American domain of Puerto Rico.”

It was a lowest turn of appearance in any choosing in Puerto Rico given 1967, according to Carlos Vargas Ramos, an associate with a Center for Puerto Rican Studies during Hunter College in New York. He also pronounced that even among electorate who upheld statehood, audience was reduce this year compared with a final referendum in 2012.

“Supporters of statehood did not seem eager about this plebiscite as they were 5 years ago,” he said.

Puerto Rico’s categorical antithesis celebration deserted a pro-statehood result.

“The meagre appearance … sends a transparent message,” pronounced Anibal Jose Torres, a celebration member. “The people deserted it by boycotting an insignificant event.”

The referendum coincides with a 100th anniversary of a United States extenuation U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans, yet they are barred from voting in presidential elections and have usually one congressional deputy with singular voting powers.

Among those anticipating Puerto Rico will turn a state is Jose Alvarez, a 61-year-old businessman.

“Now is a impulse to do it,” he said. “We’ve spent a lot of years operative on a socioeconomic indication that has not indispensably given us a answer.”

Many trust a island’s territorial standing has contributed to a 10-year mercantile recession, that has stirred scarcely half a million Puerto Ricans to rush to a U.S. mainland and was mostly sparked by decades of complicated borrowing and a rejecting of sovereign taxation incentives.

Puerto Rico is free from a U.S. sovereign income tax, though it still pays Social Security and Medicare and internal taxes and receives reduction sovereign appropriation than U.S. states.

Those inequalities and a ongoing predicament stirred 66-year-old Maria Quinones to opinion for a initial time in such a referendum, a fifth on Puerto Rico’s status.

“We have to opinion since things are not going well,” she said. “If we were a state, we would have a same rights.”

Quinones pronounced many of her kin are among a scarcely half a million Puerto Ricans who have changed to a U.S. mainland in a past decade to find a some-more affordable cost of vital or jobs as a island of 3.4 million people struggles with a 12 percent stagnation rate.

Those who sojourn behind have been strike with new taxes and aloft application bills on an island where food is 22 percent some-more costly than a U.S. mainland and open services are 64 percent some-more expensive.

Those who conflict statehood worry a island will remove a informative temperament and advise that Puerto Rico will onslaught even some-more financially since it will be forced to compensate millions of dollars in sovereign taxes.

“The cost of statehood on a pocketbook of each citizen, each business, each attention will be devastating,” Carlos Delegado, secretary of a antithesis Popular Democratic Party, told The Associated Press. “Whatever we competence accept in additional sovereign supports will be cancelled by a volume of taxes a island will have to pay.”

His celebration also has remarkable that a U.S. Justice Department has not corroborated a referendum.

A dialect orator told a AP that a group has not reviewed or authorized a ballot’s language. Federal officials in Apr deserted an strange version, in partial since it did not offer a territory’s stream standing as an option. The Rossello administration combined it and sent a list behind for review, though a dialect pronounced it indispensable some-more time and asked that a opinion be postponed, that it wasn’t.

No transparent infancy emerged in a initial 3 referendums on status, with electorate roughly uniformly divided between statehood and a standing quo. During a final referendum in 2012, 54 percent pronounced they wanted a standing change. Sixty-one percent who answered a second doubt pronounced they adored statehood, though scarcely half a million electorate left that doubt blank, heading many to explain a formula weren’t legitimate.

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Danica Coto on Twitter: www.twitter.com/danicacoto

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