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Puerto Ricans vote to seek statehood

by Onize Ohikere
Posted 6/12/17, 09:11 am

Half a million Puerto Ricans on Sunday voted to make the island the 51st American state, but low turnout and a boycott organized by opposition parties left the referendum’s legitimacy in question. Just 23 percent of Puerto Ricans turned out to vote, and only 6,800 voted to maintain the island’s current territorial status. Gov. Ricardo Rossello said he would soon create a commission to demand statehood from the U.S. Congress: “From today going forward, the federal government would no longer be able to ignore the voice of the majority of the American citizens in Puerto Rico.” But opposition groups that boycotted the referendum called the results lopsided and invalid. The island has held four other nonbinding referendums to determine whether to seek statehood, independence, or remain a U.S. territory. Puerto Rico last month filed for bankruptcy as it faces about $74 billion in bond debt and another $49 billion in unfunded pension obligations.

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Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD's Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria. Follow her on Twitter @onize_ohiks.

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