Puerto Rico’s voters overwhelmingly voted on Sunday for the island to become a state in a vote the opposition chose to boycott.
In the plebiscite 97% of the voters indicated their support for statehood, 1.6% for independence, and 1.3% for what was listed as the “current territorial status.”
However, the two main opposition parties in Puerto Rico, the Popular Democratic Party and the Puerto Rico Independence Party, called for their voters to boycott the referendum. On Sunday, 23% of eligible voters participated.
The PDP generally supports the current status and the PIP supports Puerto Rican independence. The PDP had cited what it said was unfair wording in the ballot and its lack of support by the U.S. Congress and the Trump administration as reasons for its boycott.
“The time for Puerto Rico’s equality has come.” Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González saidGonzález, Puerto Rico’s non-voting representative in the U.S. Congress, said after the plebiscite. “It is clear that the majority of Puerto Ricans want statehood. That is why leaders of certain factions urged people not to vote, as they knew that the current territorial status and nationhood were going to lose badly.”
Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said, “It would be highly contradictory for Washington to demand democracy in other parts of the world, and not respond to the legitimate right to self-determination that was exercised today in the American territory of Puerto Rico.” Rosselló and González are members of the New Progressive Party, which supports statehood.
United States Rep. Nydia Valázquez (D-N.Y.) saw things differently. “When it comes to determining their future political relationship with the U.S., the Puerto Rican people need and deserve a process that is open, inclusive and transparent," she said. "This plebiscite failed to live up to that standard and the deck was stacked throughout the process.
”With members of two of the three major political parties in Puerto Rico boycotting the vote, we can safely assume the results do not even remotely reflect public sentiment on the island. I believe there should be a democratic mechanism for the Puerto Rican people to determine their destiny, but to have any degree of legitimacy, such a process must follow the rules and not be haphazardly rushed.”
If Puerto Rico were to become a state, its government would lose its right to sell triple-tax exempt municipal bonds in the United States.
Analysts are divided on how statehood would affect the island’s economy and government finances.