Puerto Rico To Consider Statehood

Puerto Rico is considering statehood during the 2012 election for the fifth times since 1967. The territory’s citizens have long debated on their political status with the United States.

The US territory will vote on Tuesday if they will seek to become the 51st US state, reports Reuters. The debate over the island’s political status has dominated politics in Puerto Rico for years.

Political parties are formed around the preference for or against statehood, whether they support independence or their current status as a self-governing commonwealth. The territory has voted to remain as they are in four other votes, though the margin of victory decreases each time.

The proposal to ask for statehood was put in by Republican Governor Luis Fortuno, the president of the New Progressive Party. It has also been viewed as an opportunity for Puerto Rico to improve the island’s economic future and a chance to shake off the memories of the island’s colonial past.

The vote for potential statehood comes on the same day as the gubernatorial and municipal elections. Those who support the current stats believe that it is a bilateral pact, which will allow the island some autonomy while still enjoying status as a US territory. Critics of it say that the law will mean that Puerto Rico comes under the complete authority of the US Congress.

The Huffington Post notes that the ballot measure’s first question will ask voters if they are happy with the current status, while a second question offers the option to have statehood, independence, or sovereign free association.

The US Congress will still have to agree on any change made to the territory’s status. Noel Colon Martinez, a political analyst and one-time candidate for governor in Puerto Rico, stated that the referendum is confusing voters because it is forcing them to choose between three options that they may not favor.

Luis Delgado, the head of an organization that supports increased autonomy for the territory, believes that voter turnout will probably be high. He added, “It’s a tiny country of 4 million people coming face-to-face with the world’s biggest political and economic empire.”