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Puerto Rico, the next state..?

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Byron
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« on: May 31, 2007, 12:58:14 am »

For Puerto Rico, a deal on status is in the pipeline
Wed May 30, 12:21 PM ET

 


WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US Congress is likely to act within weeks on the long-controversial status of the US territory of Puerto Rico, pushing the Caribbean islands of four million people toward either independence or becoming a US state, lawmakers said.


 
The United States invaded and occupied the then-Spanish colony during the Spanish-American War of 1898. Puerto Ricans are US citizens but cannot vote for the US president, have no voting representatives in the US Congress and pay no US federal taxes unless they live on the US mainland.

Puerto Rico however receives US federal funding of at least seven billion dollars a year for a wide range of programs.

US lawmaker Jose Serrano (news, bio, voting record), a Democrat for New York, and Luis Fortuno (news, bio, voting record), a Republican of Puerto Rico and non-voting member of Congress, are sponsoring the Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2007. They say it could get a House of Representatives floor vote in June.

"There's a good chance," said Fortuno, a supporter of making Puerto Rico a new US state who is preparing a run at the governorship for next year.

"I've been talking to the leadership of both sides, and I truly believe that it is very doable," he added.

The initiative would be based on a White House task-force report on Puerto Rico's status issued in late 2005, and set out a two-stage plebiscite process.

Residents of Puerto Rico first would choose between maintaining their current status or opting for a different and permanent status.

If they choose the current commonwealth status, Puerto Ricans would be asked to repeat the process every eight years until such time as a definitive result is reached.

In the event they opt for a permanent deal, which observers say appears increasingly likely, they would vote again and choose between full US statehood and some form of independence. That could mean full sovereignty or a less-complete option known as "free association."

Though the US Congress technically has power to decide Puerto Rico's status, it has never mandated a plebiscite for the island.

The Caribbean island territory is a key military and strategic outpost on the US southeastern flank, and also attracts growing numbers of tourists.

And Puerto Rico, home to a key drug-manufacturing industry, has more trade with the United States than Brazil or Italy, mainly in pharmaceuticals.

Yet Puerto Rico is poor by US standards, with 40 percent of its people below the federal poverty line.

Should it become a mostly Spanish-speaking US state, Puerto Rico would rank 25th in population and be represented in the US Congress by two senators and most likely seven members of the House.

The people of Puerto Rico long have struggled with the issue of the island's status. They have held four nonbinding status plebiscites since 1967. An undefined form of commonwealth won every time by a small margin over statehood. Independence came in a distant third.

"Puerto Rico is a Latin American nation," said Eduardo Bhatia, the governor's representative in Washington. "There's no question about it."
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Byron
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« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2007, 01:00:44 am »

I actually like this idea, Puerto Rico should be made a state, and, later on, D.C. should be given that same status, too.

The only question is, does Puerto Rico want to be seen with us? I sure wouldn't, with Bush in there, screwing America's reputation over all around the world.
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Volitzer
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« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2007, 08:23:57 am »

Either that or we'll all be in the North American Union soon enough.

If Castro dies the NAU may very well include Cuba.
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