Puerto Ricans parade in New York, back statehood

Puerto Ricans vote in favour of being 51st US state, but doubts remain

Puerto Ricans vote in favour of being 51st US state, but doubts remain

Ricardo Rossello declared, after the island voted to become the 51st USA state in a non-binding referendum.

Lopez Rivera's supporters, including "Hamilton" playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda and other celebrities, view him as a symbol of Puerto Rican nationalism and the campaign to end what they see as the colonial status of the US territory, acquired by the United States after the Spanish-American War.

It's the fifth time Puerto Ricans have voted on the matter, but statehood has never won a clear victory.

Puerto Rico Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz vowed to push for statehood anyway.

"It will be up to this new generation of Puerto Ricans to demand and claim in Washington the end of the current improper colonial relationship, and begin a transition process to fully incorporate Puerto Rico as the next state of the Union", Governor Ricardo Rossello of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party said in a statement Sunday.

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Among those hoping Puerto Rico will become the 51st state is Pedro Pierluisi, the island's former congressional representative. "Supporters of statehood did not seem enthusiastic about this plebiscite as they were five years ago".

His party also has noted that the U.S. Justice Department has not backed the referendum. The governor announced that the US territory overwhelmingly chose statehood on Sunday in a non-binding referendum held amid a deep economic crisis that has sparked an exodus of islanders to the USA mainland.

Puerto Rico was handed over to the U.S. at the end of the Spanish-American war in 1898 as a form of war booty. But if they obtained statehood, Puerto Ricans living on the island would for the first time be able to vote in US presidential elections, and would elect lawmakers with the right to vote in the US Congress.

As of 7:00 pm, the island's State Commission on Elections (CEE-PR) had reported that about 500,000 (23 percent) of the island's eligible voters had cast ballots, in contrast to Puerto Rico's historically high turnout in most elections. He also said that even among voters who supported statehood, turnout was lower this year compared with the last referendum in 2012.

In the 1998 referendum, the top choice among Puerto Ricans was "none of the above" while in 2012 referendum voted heavily in favor of statehood, with the rest of the ballots left blank.

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Becoming the 51st star on the United States flag would instill "new hope" in Puerto Ricans, she told AFP, as well as sorely needed economic aid.

Quinones said many of her relatives are among the almost half a million Puerto Ricans who have moved to the US mainland in the past decade to find a more affordable cost of living or jobs as the island of 3.4 million people struggles with a 12 percent unemployment rate.

Votes were still being counted and the expected outcome is unlikely to change Puerto Rico's label as a U.S. territory, a move that would require an act of the U.S. Congress. "The current government of the Island entered the process and when it took longer than they wanted they chose to ignore the U.S. Justice Department's plea for more time to evaluate the validity of the ballot language.Sadly, today's vote will thus go down in history as yet another non-binding glorified poll with no real effect on resolving Puerto Rico's relationship with the United States". She said: "As Resident Commissioner I will take this to Congress and defend it".

As a territory, the island has very little power and hardly any voice in government.

"The bad side of it is that we are not a full part of the United States", he told NPR's Greg Allen and Marisa Peñaloza earlier this year.

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Creamer, who nearly won this tournament 13 years ago as an amateur, was one shot off the lead when she made the turn. Two-time defending champion Anna Nordqvist of Sweden also closed with a 69 to finish alone in second place at 204.

The current territorial status option received 6,821 votes, or 1.32 percent.

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