Puerto Rico has a huge debt load of $70 billion - or about $20,000 for every man, woman, and child living on the island.
Puerto Rico's economy has been in recession since 2006, according to the General Accounting Office, and its levels of employment and labor force participation are relatively low, compared with those of the US states.
Puerto Rico is not an independent country and has been a U.S. territory since 1898 after the country acquired the island from Spain following the Spanish-American War. It has its own governor and legislative body and it became a United States commonwealth territory with its own constitution in 1952.
Puerto Rico's status quo is somewhat between full independence and statehood. "Whatever we might receive in additional federal funds will be canceled by the amount of taxes the island will have to pay". Residents of the island are USA citizens but they do not vote for president and do not pay federal taxes.
The island's two main opposition parties boycotted the vote, which gave Puerto Ricans three options: becoming a USA state; remaining a territory; or becoming an independent nation, with or without some continuing political association with the United States.
The Associated Press reports that only partial results are in but a low turnout and boycott by several opposition parties calls into question the validity of the non-binding vote.
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Attachments to cultural and national identity are the main reasons why Puerto Ricans may oppose US statehood, Cruz-Martinez said.
"Puerto Ricans have no voting representative in Congress, so it is really rather unlikely that they can promote new development policies for Puerto Rico in the colonial status that they have". Just 7,600 opted for free association/independence; 6,700 voted to remain a US territory.
"The United States of America will have to obey the will of our people!" However, the two main parties had pushed for a boycott of the vote.
Ricardo Rossello the governor of the island and his government had been pushing for a vote for statehood as the best way to deal with Puerto Rico's debt.
Puerto Ricans will be presented with three options: Statehood, Independence/Free Association and Current Territorial Status (commonwealth).
Thousands of Puerto Ricans already cast their vote earlier this week in the newest referendum, including inmates and those who are hospitalized.
Many Puerto Ricans view the government as subservient to this board, some representatives of which have been connected to Wall Street. Federal officials in April rejected the original version, in part because it did not offer the territory's current status as an option.
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Rosselló will go to the U.S. capital armed with a 97% backing for statehood from voters in Sunday's plebiscite on the future of the stricken USA colony.
"I voted for statehood", 74-year-old retiree Armando Abreu told reporters outside a polling center at the Escuela Gabriela Mistral. That will make it hard for the governor to get Congress to pay much attention to the vote. The US Congress will now have to decide whether it wants to expand the nation's borders and accept the poverty-stricken Caribbean island into the Union. Turnout was just 23 percent.
Boycotters were also angry about the costly referendum at a time when over 400 schools have closed and many Puerto Ricans are struggling to make ends meet.
Hector Ferrer, the leader of Popular Democratic Party, said eight out of 10 "stayed home" or "went to the beach" instead of voting. Statehood and Rossello lost. "Supporters of statehood did not seem enthusiastic about this plebiscite as they were five years ago".
However, the results of these referendums were hardly reliable due to fact that most results favor whichever party was in power. She said: "As Resident Commissioner I will take this to Congress and defend it".
He further argued that, in a democracy, the expression of the majority that participates in the electoral processes prevails.
"Puerto Rico is poorer than MS by half, and Americans don't care, " Bravo said.
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Ricardo Rossello said that voters have sent a strong and clear message to the US Congress and the world.
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