Puerto Rico Pressing On in Its Quest for Statehood

Roll Call | 8/22/2017 | Katanga Johnson
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Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello recently swore in his dream team for political representation — two senators and five representatives to match the commonwealth’s population.

They are expected to travel to Washington soon and ask lawmakers to be seated as the official congressional delegation for Puerto Rico.

Request - Movement - Hill - Leadership - Debate

While their request is unlikely to see much movement from Hill leadership, the debate over Puerto Rico’s future is unlikely to fade away. For more than a century — ever since the territory was acquired following the Spanish-American War — Congress and successive presidents have grappled with the thorny issue.

On that topic, there is a substantial gap between what island residents would like to see happen and the prevailing sentiment in the continental United States.

Puerto - Ricans - Citizens - US - Population

Puerto Ricans, who are American citizens, and the general U.S. population do not agree on the tiny island’s statehood quest.

Only 32 percent of Americans in last month’s Economist/YouGov poll last month said Puerto Rico should be admitted into the union as the nation’s 51st state.

Island - Percent - Puerto - Ricans - June

On the island, however, 97 percent of Puerto Ricans who voted in the June 11 referendum cast ballots in favor of statehood. Just 1.5 percent voted for complete independence from the U.S. and 1.3 percent were in favor of maintaining the territory’s commonwealth status. Turnout was low — estimates put it at 23 percent of registered voters — and two of the island’s main parties boycotted the vote, Reuters reported.

The divergence between what Puerto Ricans and mainland Americans want is significant. In last month’s poll, 16 percent of respondents said the island should become independent, 25 percent said it should stay a commonwealth and 27 percent said they were not sure. The opt-in, online poll surveyed 1,500 U.S. adults from July 15-18 and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Puerto - Rico

Puerto Rico’s large...
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