Puerto Ricans who voted for US statehood in a non-binding referendum Sunday are “claiming our equal rights as American citizens,” Puerto Rico’s governor says.
Ninety-seven percent of the votes favored statehood but voter participation was just 23% after opposition parties called for a boycott of what they called a “rigged” process in part over the ballot language.
Congress, the only body that can approve new states, will ultimately decide whether the status of the US commonwealth changes.
“It will be up to this new generation of Puerto Ricans to demand and claim in Washington the end of the current improper colonial relationship, and begin a transition process to fully incorporate Puerto Rico as the next state of the Union,” Governor Ricardo Rosselló of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party said in a statement Sunday.
For Puerto Rico to become a US state, Congress would need to pass a statute laying out the transition process. If Congress does not pass a statute, Puerto Rico’s status will remain as it is.