Published: Mon, June 26, 2017
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

97% of Voters in Bankrupt Puerto Rico Want Statehood

97% of Voters in Bankrupt Puerto Rico Want Statehood

Puerto Rico overwhelmingly voted in favor of making the island America's 51st state, but the results are being questioned. Even if it did, most analysts say statehood already faced an uphill battle in Washington, where President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress don't appear all that enthusiastic about adding a 51st star to the US flag.

Despite the fact that they are U.S. citizens, the 3.4 million Puerto Rican people can not participate in the presidential election and their Congress delegation has no right to vote.

According to figures released on the State Election Commission Web site, a total of 476,635 people voted for statehood for the USA commonwealth.

"We will go before global forums to defend the argument of the importance of Puerto Rico being the first Hispanic state in the United States", Rossello said. The results of that vote showed that 97% of the 23% of Puerto Ricans who voted were in favor of statehood, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. Hector Ferrer, the leader of the Popular Democratic Party, told CNN that eight out of 10 voters "stayed home" or "went to the beach". Cars, for example, cost about 40% more in Puerto Rico than on the USA mainland. "When you hear that argument, it's someone attempting to delegitimize this vote because they don't want it to happen".

Many islanders see the United States authority as an intolerable stranglehold, especially considering that President Donald Trump has several times argued against bailing out the territory.

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After Puerto Rico declared bankruptcy in 2006, the government entered into a process of "debt analysis" and arbitration, directed by a financial control board appointed by President Obama.

In a statement, the governor said that he would travel to the U.S. capital to speak with Congress, the White House, and other agencies regarding the referendum results.

Ricardo Rossello said that voters have sent a strong and clear message to the US Congress and the world.

But observers of Puerto Rico's long and tortured relationship with its vastly more wealthy and powerful overlord scoffed at the idea that the plebiscite would have any impact.

It also gets U.S. military protection and receives federal funding from the government for highways and social programs, just not as much as official states receive.

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"We will now take these results to Washington, D.C., with the strong support of not only a duly executed electoral exercise, but also of a contingency of national and worldwide observers, who can attest to the fact that the process was fair, well organized and democratic", Rosselló said.

If successful in gaining statehood, Puerto Rico would be poorer than MS, the poorest of the American states, and therefore would be the likely recipient of federal largesse by the truckload.

But, this isn't the Caribbean island's first merry-go-round with statehood voting.

The island's 3.4 million people struggle with a 12 percent unemployment rate and have been hit with new taxes and higher utility bills.

"Puerto Rico is actually dealing with a huge economic and debt crisis" and its economy has shrunk ten percent in the last ten years; 45 percent of people there live below the poverty line.

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Soto is well aware that the Republican-controlled House and Senate may be reluctant to approve statehood because voters in the new state likely would put Democratic House members and senators into the Congress.

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