Is puerto rico a state of the united states now: Is Puerto Rico Part of the U.S?
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Equality for Puerto Rico through Statehood
Puerto Rico has voted for statehood three times: in 2012, 2017, and 2020. Congress must take action to admit Puerto Rico as the 51st state. Under the Constitution, this can happen with a simple majority in Congress.
Now, there is a statehood admissions bill under consideration in Congress. Since Puerto Rico has a limited voice in the federal government, the U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico need the help of our fellow citizens living in the states to make sure that Congress hears us.
Please join us. We can’t go back.
It’s time to move forward!
Speak up for Puerto Rico
A Nationwide Movement
The Puerto Rico statehood movement is supported by men and women in every state and territory, Democrats and Republicans and Independents.
After more than a century as a possession of the United States, Puerto Rico wants and deserves full equality with U.S. citizens living in the states.
Puerto Rico is ready for the full rights and responsibilities of statehood.
Join the Movement
Puerto Rico, the 51st State
Puerto Rico has been under the U.S. flag since 1898, and Puerto Ricans were granted U.S. citizenship in 1917. But the Island is still an unincorporated territory. What does this mean?
Puerto Rico’s ultimate political status is still uncertain. It could become a state or an independent nation, or it can continue to be a territory indefinitely.
The Federal government governs Puerto Rico, even though it has allowed self-government on local matters. The Supreme Court has said that Puerto Rico does not have the “power, dignity and authority”
of a state.
It does not have votes in Congress or in the election of the President. One House of Representatives member with a limited vote represents all three million plus U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico.
It is treated differently than the states under some laws and is discriminated against in federal funds allocations.
Federal officials have said Puerto Rico should have the status its people want from among all legally possible options. Under the U.S. Constitution, there are only three options:
● The current territorial status
The current status is untenable for Puerto Rico and for the United States, so the only real options are statehood or independence with or without free association.
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In 2012, 54% of Puerto Ricans said they did not want to be a territory and 61.
2% chose statehood. In 2017, 97% of voters chose statehood from the possible options – statehood, independence, and continuing as a territory. In 2020, 53% of voters said “Yes” to statehood.
Some local politicians want a new arrangement with benefits of being a state, a nation, and a territory they call “Enhanced Commonwealth status.” Federal officials say it is impossible.
Congress has the power to take action for statehood now. Only Congress can make a new state. Only statehood will bring full equality for Puerto Rico.
But advocacy efforts require resources. You can help!
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Puerto Rico prepares to possibly become new US state
Puerto Rican flags hang defiantly in the old centre of San Juan. After they were banned for several years in an effort to suppress the independence movement, the Puerto Rico flag may only be legally flown in company of the US flag. Paula Dupraz-Dobias/swissinfo.ch
In November 2023, Puerto Ricans may vote on whether they want to become the 51st US state or gain full independence. Washington – for the first time ever – has signalled a possible green light to allow for a binding vote.
This content was published on January 3, 2023 — 10:30
Reporting from Puerto Real, Puerto Rico
In one of its last sessions in 2022, the outgoing United States House of Representatives approved a bill providing Puerto Ricans a binding referendum to be held in November this year. The referendum will offer voters the choice of statehood, independence or a “free association” with the US – similar to the cases for the Marshall Islands and Micronesia.
Two hundred and thirty-three members of the US lower chamber of Congress voted ‘yes’, while 191 were against. This historic bill is now awaiting passage to the Senate, where it needs at least 60 ‘yes’ votes from the 100-member chamber. The same referendum procedure last occurred in the 1950s, when the people of Alaska and Hawaii were asked whether they wanted to become US states.
Until 1898, Spain ruled Puerto Rico, which then became a “commonwealth territory” of the United States; a hybrid status which did not grant Puerto Ricans voting rights. As of today, and in spite of gaining citizenship in 1917, Puerto Ricans are unable to vote in federal US elections, and do not have a voting representative in Congress in Washington.
The island is hoping that the upcoming referendum may soon determine how it wants to be governed. Unlike previous votes, this one approved by Congress will be binding.
A formula that no longer works
“Puerto Rico in its current state is a colony of the United States,” said Milagros Martínez, a political activist in Puerto Rico. “That formula no longer works in this country.”
She hopes the referendum may lead the island to become an independent state.
Martinez manages a project to assist fishermen in one of the areas worst hit by the recent tropical cyclone, Fiona, in Puerto Real in the southwest of the island. A recent series of natural disasters as well as the pandemic, has highlighted how the dependence had affected the economy and aggravated vulnerabilities on the island.
Heavy rains continued one month after hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico in September 2022. Flooding in Cabo Rojo, in the southwestern region, some 10km from Puerto Real. Many residents were less fortunate, having lost their homes during recent hurricane activity. Paula Dupraz-Dobias/swissinfo.ch
The island is regularly hit by Atlantic cyclone activity. Five years ago, hurricane Maria caused widespread damage to communities, crippling the entire power grid and causing at least 2,975 deaths.
Puerto Rico has always received a lower rate of federal funding for basic medical insurance, known as Medicaid, than any state of the US. A spiraling debt crisis that led to a default and deep economic downturn added to challenges. “There were hits, one after the other,” Martínez told SWI swissinfo.ch.
Protest graffiti in Old San Juan against corruption and in favour of self-determination. Marches against US-Canadian electricity company Luma and the sale of protected coastal areas to foreign investors have taken place in the capital. Paula Dupraz-Dobias/swissinfo.ch
Political activism for change
A growing awareness of the limitations of the current status, coming from greater community involvement amid insufficient preparedness and response to the climate disasters by federal authorities and local government, has aroused political activism.
Protests in 2022 against the US-Canadian electricity company Luma, which runs the island’s power grid, and illegal construction by foreign-owned companies on public beaches have come as popular statements against the perceived cosiness between local officials and US authorities and businesses.
“We need an oversight board that works. We do not need an oversight board imposed by Congress,” Deepak Lamba Nieves of the Center for a New Economy, a think tank in San Juan, said at a panel in September organised by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter University in New York on decolonising disaster response efforts.
From non-binding to binding referendum
Six non-binding referendums have been held over the past 50 years asking about possible statehood. In the most recent one held in November 2020, 52.5% of Puerto Rican voters said the island should become the country’s 51st state. The vote, not approved by Congress, was boycotted by many political movements in Puerto Rico. It nonetheless confirmed earlier trends rejecting the status quo.
“People go and vote and express their opinion. Then usually there is a report in Washington with the results, and usually that is where it ends,” said Ada Torres, a Puerto Rican history researcher at the University of Chicago. As a result, she said, a certain voter fatigue may have set in: “There is not very much interest from the Puerto Rican people to lead another non-binding, inconsequential referendum.»
Jenniffer González-Colón, the island’s only representative in Congress, expressed her own frustration with the current situation as she presented the Puerto Rico Status Act in Congress: “We cannot vote for the president who sends our sons and daughters to the war. Because we are a territory, the federal government can, and often does, treat us unequally under federal laws and programmes. We are treated as second-class citizens. Because we are a territory, I am here to discuss a bill related to one of our most critical issues, and yet, I cannot vote on this bill.”
Graffiti on a building in Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan, October 2022. Paula Dupraz-Dobias/swissinfo.ch
‘Historic’ negotiations in Washington
With Republicans taking control of the lower chamber on January 3, it is possible that the bill may be buried before it is formally transferred to the Senate. Such a move would mean that the referendum planned in 2023 would face the fate of others before it and be non-binding.
While some Republican representatives such as Liz Cheney have been supportive of Puerto Rico becoming a state, other representatives like Bruce Westerman, another leading Republican, argue that the legislation was discussed in a “hasty and secretive process”.
There is a general perception that Puerto Rico could sway towards Democrats if given statehood, though a 2019 Politico poll found that the largest number of Puerto Ricans, 42% of the population, said they weren’t committed to either of the two major parties.
González-Colón, a Republican, told SWI that negotiations through Congress were “historic”. Talks, she said, allowed parties “to agree that the territorial status status-quo, being the problem, cannot be the answer, and that Congress had to clearly define the constitutionally viable, non-territorial status alternatives.”
Towards independence – instead of statehood?
In Puerto Rico, the push for independence has been rising in recent years. After a 2018 Washington Post poll showed only 10% favoured independence, the 2020 gubernatorial election had two parties supporting independence and decolonisation, attracting more than a quarter of the vote.
Others however may see joining the US as a state as a more secure option, providing access to much needed federal funding and social protection programmes, as well as voting rights and proper representation in Congress.
González-Colón, who favours statehood, said that the two sides nonetheless agree on a common point: “The true advocates of independence and statehood in Puerto Rico have always been very clear on their positions and on the failure of the status-quo to enable the progress of Puerto Rico, and understood that it has to end, that the true enemy is colonial stagnation.”
Carlos Rodríguez, president of the Puerto Real fishermen’s association, says the interests of locals are not represented in US government. Paula Dupraz-Dobias/swissinfo.ch
Even in this fishing town of Puerto Real, there is the sense that the vote could not come sooner. Carlos Rodríguez, the president of the local fishermen’s association said regular power cuts made worse by hurricane Fiona have limited the storage capacity for the daily catch, reducing his ability to provide members with a regular income.
With few job alternatives available for the fishermen, few of whom had completed their basic schooling, the future is bleak. “The fisherman always has to defend himself. Government help needs to be faster. No one is concerned about us and there is no one in Washington to represent us,» he said.
Edited by Virginie Mangin
In compliance with the JTI standards
More: SWI swissinfo.ch certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative
Tours to the USA from Samara and Moscow, excursions and recreation
List of cities
Cities by types of recreation
- Las Vegas
- Los Angeles
- New York
The capital is Washington.
The population is about 270 million people.
The official language is English (American).
Currency — US dollar.
The United States of America (USA, United States, America) is one of the largest world powers, both in terms of size and population, GDP, influence on world politics and many other factors. nine0026
The United States of America ranks fourth in the world in terms of area. Most of the United States (48 states) is located in the central part of the North American continent — these are the so-called continental states of the United States. The state of Alaska is located on a peninsula in the northwest of North America, the state of Hawaii is located on the Hawaiian Islands in the Pacific Ocean. The US borders Canada to the north and Mexico to the south. The United States has a maritime border with Russia in Alaska.
Thanks to the vast territory of the country, in the United States you can see the whole variety of terrain — from lowlands to mountain ranges and climates — from arctic frosts to tropical heat. The continental United States of America is divided into four time zones. nine0026
A huge country is usually divided into four regions — Northeast, Midwest, South and West. In addition, so-called «belts» are often distinguished in the United States — areas that are similar in one way or another.
The United States ranks third in the world in terms of population (over 310 million people). The United States of America is one of the most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations in the world. The population of the United States was formed mainly due to large-scale immigration from many countries of the world, and therefore, people of all races, nationalities and religions can be found in the country. The United States does not have an official language, but in fact the most common and generally accepted language in America is English. nine0026
Of course, in the US, as in other countries, the population is divided into different social classes, have different levels of education and income.
The USA is a federal constitutional republic, consisting of fifty states and one federal district (plus territories with special status). The capital of the United States is the city of Washington in the District of Columbia.
From the first thirteen states that formed the United States of America in 1776 to the most likely candidate for the fifty-first state of the United States (which is now Puerto Rico), they are all very different and each of them is very interesting. nine0026
The majority of the US population (over 80%) lives in cities or suburban areas. The largest cities in the United States are New York, New York (over 8,000,000 inhabitants), Los Angeles, California (over 3,800,000 inhabitants) and Chicago, Illinois (over 2,700,000 inhabitants). Around these cities, the largest metropolitan areas in the United States (urban agglomerations) were formed.
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Puerto Rico wants to re-enter the United States // Watch
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More than half of the inhabitants of the island of Puerto Rico once again voted for it to receive the status of 51 US states, according to ABC News.
nine0022 Residents of the state of Puerto Rico, which is an associated territory of the United States, once again voted to join the country as the 51st state, according to ABC News.
Puerto Ricans have American citizenship, here they use the US dollar as the main currency, but the constitution and all three branches of government in the state with three million inhabitants are their own, and the citizens of this island are also deprived of the opportunity to elect an American president.
Puerto Rico last voted to join the United States in 2017. The majority voted in favor, but then the US Department of Justice did not support a vote in Congress. In September 2018, US President Donald Trump expressed his opposition to the idea of turning Puerto Rico into the 51st state of the United States. Trump has repeatedly criticized the leaders of Puerto Rico as corrupt. nine0026
This is the sixth referendum on joining the US. Now, according to the results of counting 95% of the votes, 52% of voters voted for joining the United States.