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Puerto Rico's Vote for Statehood Means Nothing

20 June 2017

Lopez Rivera said last week he wouldn't accept the National Freedom Hero title, which organizers at first granted him, but would join the parade as a regular citizen, partly because the focus was too much on him and not enough on Puerto Rico's plight.

His party also has noted that the U.S. Justice Department has not backed the referendum.

According to preliminary results, almost half a million votes were cast for statehood, more than 7,600 for free association/independence and almost 6,700 for retaining the current territorial status.

But Sunday's results showed only 23 percent of the island's nearly 2.2 million voters took part in the referendum.

The fate of Puerto Rico's statehood request is to be decided upon by the US Congress which is the only institution entitled to decide such matters.

Puerto Rico has held four previous plebiscites in 1967, 1993, 1998 and 2012.

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Congress must still approve the Puerto Rico's admission to the union, a long shot at best given the fact that the island votes overwhelmingly Democratic and both houses of Congress are controlled by Republicans.

Puerto Rico's plebiscite will be held amid rising debate over the country's current colonial status. This is the fifth vote on the political status of Puerto Rico since the United States annexed the island in 1898. Puerto Rico voted in favor of statehood, the New York Post reports.

Some statehood supporters on Sunday expressed dismay that certain voting centers appeared empty. She is pro-statehood and is forming a "Friends of Puerto Rico Caucus" that would press for statehood.

The landslide victory led many critics to believe that only those who supported statehood went to the polls.

According to the New York Daily News, with 97% of the votes supporting statehood, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló is ready to head to Washington D.C.to carry out "the will of our people".

Puerto Rico is exempt from the US federal income tax, but it still pays Social Security and Medicare and local taxes and receives less federal funding than USA states. That would mean a 30 percent cut to the administrative budget of the University of Puerto Rico. "Gov. Rosselló is now going to go to Washington and say this (statehood) is what people wanted".

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Under the current system, Puerto Rico's 3.5 million American citizens do not pay federal taxes, vote in presidential elections or receive proportionate federal funding on programs like the Medicaid health insurance system for the poor.

Under the current system, Puerto Rico's 3.5 million American citizens do not pay federal taxes, vote for USA presidents or receive proportionate federal funding on programs like Medicaid, though the US government oversees policy and financial areas such as infrastructure, defense and trade.

After the votes were tallied, the Popular Democratic Party called the vote a waste of public money and a stinging humiliation for the government.

Statehood would also make a lot of stuff cheaper on the island.

Puerto Rico is exempt from the US federal income tax, but it still pays Social Security and Medicare and local taxes and receives less federal funding than USA states.

Former governor Anibal Acevedo Vila said in an interview: "A 97 per cent win is the kind of result you get in a one-party regime".

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Puerto Rico's Vote for Statehood Means Nothing