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History Made in Puerto Rico Status Referendum!

Wed, 07 Nov 2012 08:00:00 EST

American history was made yesterday Tuesday November 6th, when 77 percent of Puerto Rico's eligible voters went to the polls in the U.S. Caribbean territory. In an unequivocal rejection of the island's current political status, 54 percent of Puerto Ricans voted (934,238) to end the island's territorial status while 46 percent voted to keep it. Over 1.7 million voters answered the ballot question.  

The second question on the referendum ballot asked voters to express their preference between the only constitutionally-valid and internationally-recognized alternatives to Puerto Rico’s current unequal territorial status: Statehood, Independence, or Free Association (ELA Soberano).  Free Association is independence with a unilaterally revocable bilateral treaty such as exists between the United States and the Republics of Palau and the Marshall Islands.  The alternatives have been validated by successive Presidential Task Forces on Puerto Rico’s Political Status, the U.S. Department of Justice and the United States Congress.  More than 1.3 million Puerto Rican voters answered the question, at 54 percent representing a clear majority of the island’s registered voters.  Statehood prevailed with 61 percent of votes cast.     

Unquestionable Island-Wide Majorities

The results demonstrate clear and unquestionable majorities in favor of ending the 114-year status as a territory of the United States in favor of equal citizenship and Puerto Rican equality within the union of the United States.  The referendum results show that majorities in every district and municipality throughout Puerto Rico voted to pursue statehood rather than independence and free association.  A small minority of municipalities voted in favor of maintaining the unequal territorial status. The clear rejection of continued territorial status in favor of equality as a full and equal state of the union were much more than simple majorities, dispelling any notion that a close vote would mar the results.  

Comprehensive Voter Education Effort 

During the months leading to the referendum, the island saw unprecedented partisan and non-partisan voter education campaigns urging an end to the territorial status.  Candidates and representatives from the pro-statehood New Progressive Party, Igualdad, Futuro Seguro (Equality – Secure Future), and the Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association engaged in island-wide education activities urged voters to reject the current unequal territorial status in favor of citizen equality and statehood. The New Progressive Party is a hybrid party of Democrats and Republicans united in seeking equality and Statehood for Puerto Rico. ¡Boricua, Ahora Es! (Puerto Rican, The Time is Now!) brought together statehood-, independence-, and free association advocates in urging voters to end the 114-year status as an unequal territory of the United States.   

Petition to Congress for Admission as a State Expected Soon

It is expected that Puerto Rico’s territorial legislature will swiftly certify the results and submit Puerto Rico’s petition for admission to the union as a state to the United States Congress in the immediate future.  The leadership of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party, including outgoing Governor Luis Fortuño, newly reelected Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, and the current Speaker of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives Jenniffer Gonzalez have each made clear their commitment to this course.

While the referendum results and majorities are clear, pro-statehood majorities in the island’s House of Representatives and Senate were not returned for the island’s next legislative session. Pro-statehood Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi was the biggest vote getter island-wide and was reelected to serve an additional four-year term as Puerto Rico’s non-voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. In remarks at a press conference Wednesday, Pierluisi committed to dedicate himself to advancing the expressed will of the Puerto Rican people in the Congress.  


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Tennessee and the Long, Hard Road to Statehood
By David Gorgani

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