What Are Puerto Rico’s Chances for Statehood?

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Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said the results of the June 11 referendum showed that the island’s residents want statehood. // File Photo: Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Ninety-seven percent of voters who cast ballots in Puerto Rico’s fifth status referendum on June 11 favored statehood for the U.S. territory, though voter turnout was only 23 percent. Governor Ricardo Rosselló said the vote showed the desire of Puerto Ricans for statehood, but opponents said the low turnout meant the island’s residents expressed no such mandate. Was a call by three political parties on the island for a boycott of the vote the main reason for the low turnout, or were there other reasons that voters stayed home? How likely is the U.S. Congress to consider the issue of statehood for Puerto Rico? To what extent is the island’s status related to its debt crisis, and how would statehood affect Puerto Rico’s economy?

Kenneth D. McClintock, president of the Puerto Rico Equality Forum and former lieutenant governor and Senate president of Puerto Rico: “Despite the most recent boycott, and the press forecasting a 70 percent-plus majority for statehood to render the referendum noncompetitive and keep statehood voters home, statehood obtained 97 percent among a healthy 31 percent turnout of voters under Puerto Rico electoral law that participated in a non-election-year vote (the 23 percent turnout figure cited above in the query is misleading because so many Puerto Ricans have moved to the mainland in recent years). With that solid mandate, now Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, the two shadow senators and five shadow congressmen he’s appointing, along with elected Congressional delegate Jenniffer González, will file the first-ever petition for Puerto Rico’s admission, so the clock will begin ticking. Will it be easy? No. While it took Illinois 11 months…”

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