Photo: Puerto Rico status review going nowhere
The review of Puerto Rico’s political status remains dead in the water a year after the last non-binding referendum held on the island, a vote in which the majority of Puerto Ricans came out in favor of doing away with their subordinate relationship to the United States.
This week marks a year since that balloting, which the president of the opposition New Progressive Party, or PNP, and resident commissioner to Washington, a non-voting member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Pedro Pierluisi, called an “historic act” for the island.
In the referendum, which was held Nov. 6, 2012, coinciding with the reelection of U.S. President Barack Obama and the election of current Puerto Rican Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla, 53.9 percent of those casting ballots said that they wanted a change in the island’s status.
“Sooner or later, the U.S. Congress will have to respond” to that result, Pierluisi, who favors the annexation of Puerto Rico by the United States as a new state, said in an interview with Efe.
Of the 1.8 million Puerto Ricans who voted, 53.9 percent said “no” in answer to the question about whether they agreed with maintaining the current relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States.
The current situation allows Puerto Ricans to have their own constitution for the management of their internal affairs, but it subordinates the island to the laws enacted by the U.S. Congress.
The United States reserves to itself all functions connected with defense, the management of borders and foreign relations, and Puerto Ricans living on the island may not vote to elect the U.S. president.
On the referendum’s second question, which asked voters to choose among three alternatives for Puerto Rico’s future status, 61.1 percent voted for annexation to the United States, 33.3 percent for a Sovereign Free Associated State, which is understood to be a relationship between equals, and 5.5 opted for full independence.