Puerto Rico voted to become the 51st state but here's why it probably won't happen.
Posted by AJ+ on Monday, June 12, 2017
Credit: AJ+ / Facebook
Over the weekend, Puerto Ricans took part in a non-binding vote, or plebiscite, to decide the island’s future on one key issue: whether or not to be become the 51st state in the United States of America. It was the second such vote within the last 5 years, with the previous plebiscite on the same issue occurring in 2012. In both instances, people voted in favor of statehood. Both referendums suffered from low turnout.
The 2012 referendum brought in over 800,000 voters, with 54 percent voting for independence. This last round of votes brought in a little over 500,000 — just 23% of the island’s 2.2 million eligible voter population — but this time 97 percent of those who voted chose statehood.
Feelings were mixed and have been on the island about the issue of statehood.
— Reuters World (@ReutersWorld) June 12, 2017
Many are hoping that becoming the 51st state will help turn around the island’s 45% poverty rate and $70 billion debt. Others think the vote was a waste, because the last vote in 2012 ended up with congress not making a determination on the island’s status. Even if the current plebiscite is indeed seen as legitimate, it would still be up to congress to decide whether or not to do anything about it.
The official word on what President Trump and his administration thinks about the vote was given by Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
Credit: The White House / Youtube
“This matter is something that’s going to be determined now that the people have spoken in Puerto Rico this is something that congress has to address, so the process will have to work it’s way out through congress.”
Texas congressmen Joaquin Castro made his feelings on the matter very clear.
Puerto Rico should be admitted as a state to the United States. https://t.co/q5jahbqtCe
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) June 11, 2017
Several congressmen made similar statements on social media.
Marco Rubio didn’t have an opinion one way or the other, but did encourage people on the island to go out and vote on the day of.
I encourage all voters on the island to participate in this plebiscite to communicate the will of the people to local and national leaders.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) June 9, 2017
He took a bit of a hands-off approach.
However, Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez, vehemently opposed the vote.
— Luis V. Gutierrez (@RepGutierrez) June 9, 2017
The congressman called the whole plebiscite a farce and released a statement on his website addressing his thoughts. As a son of Puerto Rican migrants himself, he had very strong opinions about the vote. On his website his press release read:
“The supporters of statehood are selling a fantasy that a Latino, Caribbean nation will be admitted as a state during the era of Donald Trump; That states, many of which supported Trump, will accept a Spanish-speaking state that will receive just as many Senators and maybe even more House seats than they currently have; And all of this for an Island the U.S. has made deeply in debt with a sputtering economic engine that leaves Puerto Rico significantly poorer and more dependent than even our poorest states. I do not point out Puerto Rico’s problems to denigrate my fellow Puerto Ricans, simply to point out the reality that what is being peddled by the supporters of statehood is a fantasy.
Let’s focus on job creation that showcases the talent and creativity of the Puerto Rican people. That is the path forward towards a brighter economic future, which is the fundamental bedrock on which Puerto Rico survives and thrives and grows, regardless of its political status.
Those who advocate statehood in Puerto Rico will claim that this Sunday’s vote is a referendum on statehood. That is a fiction, because it’s clear that only one party will participate in the one-sided election and because the U.S. Government has not made any sort of commitment to honor this vote. So, regardless of how carefully the Statehooders dress it up to look like a legitimate democratic process, the June 11 plebiscite is a farce.”
It seems as if, just like before, folks are undecided left and right as to what to do about this vote. One thing is for certain, statehood won’t happen overnight and Puerto Rico needs help now.
[H/T] Associated Press