Puerto Rico Votes in Favor of Becoming 51st State of USA

World | November 7, 2012, Wednesday // 18:24| Views: | Comments: 0
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Bulgaria: Puerto Rico Votes in Favor of Becoming 51st State of USA Puerto Rico seems set to become the 51st state of the USA. Photo from opencongress.org

Voters in Puerto Rico have supported a non-binding referendum to become a full-fledged state of the USA.

The measure will require approval from the US Congress, but President Barack Obama has said he will respect the vote.

The island is currently a US territory, which uses the dollar and whose citizens travel on US passports but it does not return senators to the US Congress and is represented in Washington by a non-voting delegate.

Almost 80% of the island's electorate took part in the referendum, the fourth in the past 45 years.

With almost all the votes counted, almost 54% voted to change the island's relationship with the US, the BBC reported.

In reply to a second question on what future they favored, nearly two-thirds wanted full statehood as part of the USA.

If Congress grants its approval, Puerto Ricans would have the right to vote in all US elections, but would also have to pay federal taxes, something at present they are excused from.

The island came under US control in 1898 when Spain lost the island at the end of the Spanish-American war. Ties were strengthened in 1917 when Puerto Ricans became US citizens and were allowed to serve in the military. There are now almost a million more Puerto Ricans in the US than on the island.

US Supreme Court judge Sonia Sotomayor, singer Jennifer Lopez and the former jazz musician Tito Puente are all of Puerto Rican descent, though all three were born in New York.

Ties between the island and the mainland are strong and many on the island considered it inevitable that a full union be requested, the BBC writes.

President Barack Obama, who visited the island last year, has said he will respect the will of Puerto Ricans if there is a clear majority.

Any change would require approval by the US Congress, but no territory has ever been denied a petition for admission to the States.

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Tags: Puerto Rico, USA, US, United States, United States of America, Barack Obama, US President, Referendum, statehood, commonwealth, Puerto Ricans, 51st state
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