Puerto Rico could soon become the 51st state of the United States.
Puerto Ricans voted in favor of statehood last night in a non-binding referendum. The vote still needs to be approved by Congress, but President Obama has already said that he would support statehood for Puerto Rico.
According to the BBC, voters in Puerto Rico were asked two questions in relation to statehood. Nearly 54 percent of voters said that they wanted to change the island’s 114-year relationship with the United States. The second question gave voters three options to describe that relationship: statehood, sovereign free association, or independence. More than 60 percent voted for statehood, while 33 percent voted for sovereign free association and 5 percent voted for independence.
A young voter told the Nevada Appeal:
“Puerto Rico has to be a state. There is no other option … We’re doing OK, but we could do better. We would receive more benefits, a lot more financial help.”
The Washington Post notes that, if Puerto Rico becomes the 51st state, then Puerto Ricans will earn the right to vote in Presidential elections. They will also, however, have to pay federal taxes.
Any change between the United States and Puerto Rico will require the approval of congress. The BBC notes, however, that Congress has never denied a territory’s request for statehood.
Hawaii was the last state to join the United States. Hawaii became the 50th state in 1959.
Do you think Puerto Rico should become a state?