Puerto Ricans go to polls on joining US
Monday 14 December 1998
As polling came to a close last night the result was too close to call. Ballot papers offered voters five options, including one for independence as a sovereign nation. Only two of the options were expected to win significant support: one to petition the US for full statehood and another to retain the island's current status as a commonwealth of the US.
The issue is emotive for the island, which has a population of 3.8 million. Supporters of statehood argue that, as a commonwealth, Puerto Ricans are second-class citizens who live under American cultural domination without the chance to vote in US elections or affect American politics.
Leading the statehood camp is the Governor, Pedro Rossello. "Keep the political inferiority, keep the economic limitations, keep the social dependency, that's what commonwealth has meant to Puerto Rico as a transitory and territorial status," he said.
But opponents of the campaign believe that, as a commonwealth, the island has the best of all worlds - close association with the US and the benefits of federal funding while at the same time retaining a patina of national identity. Puerto Rico, for instance, has its own Olympic team.
The island was under Spanish rule for 400 years before it was ceded to the US in 1898. The present commonwealth status was conferred on Puerto Rico in 1952. Yesterday's was the third referendum on statehood in 30 years. The last time, in 1993, statehood lost by two percentage points.
Victory for the statehood campaign would mark only the start of a difficult constitutional battle.
To become the 51st state of America, Puerto Rico would have to win the support of the US Congress, a task that would probably not prove easy. Members of Congress may worry, for example, about the impact on the Union of adding to it a state that is entirely Spanish- speaking.
- 1 Bill Clinton portrait features Monica Lewinsky reference, artist admits
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 Average penis size revealed: Scientists attempt to find what is 'normal' to reassure concerned men
Bill Clinton portrait features Monica Lewinsky reference, artist admits
Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
China's 'Inconvenient Truth': video exposing country’s smog crisis watched 100 million times
Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...
£38000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B content marketing agen...
£50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...