Gov. Fortuño Urges President Obama, U.S. Congress, to implement Puerto Rico’s Historic Status Plebiscite Results
In Historic Vote, the U.S. Citizens of Puerto Rico Vote to End the Current Territory Status and Become a State of the Union.
San Juan, PR [CapitalWirePR] November 14, 2012 – Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño today urged President Obama and the U.S. Congress to implement the results of the historic status plebiscite in which the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico voted to become a State of the Union and end the current, unequal status that has been in place since the Island became a U.S. territory in 1898.
“I write to convey to you the official results of the Puerto Rico political status plebiscite, held in accordance with local law on November 6, 2012, and to urge you to fulfill your commitment to actively seek implementation of this choice by the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico,” Gov. Fortuño wrote the President, indicating that a record 77% of Puerto Rico’s eligible voters participated in the historic plebiscite.
The status plebiscite was called by the elected representatives of the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico to present voters with the options for the Island’s political status recognized by the federal government. The structure of the plebiscite followed the findings and recommendations from the March 2011 report of the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status.
The plebiscite ballot first asked voters if they agree with maintaining the current status as a U.S. territory, to which they could answer either yes or no. Voters were next asked their preference for one of the three non-territorial status options recognized by the federal government: Statehood, Independence, or Sovereign Free Associated State.
The results reported by the Puerto Rico State Elections Commission, the institution that oversees all official electoral processes in Puerto Rico and that is composed of representatives from each of Puerto Rico’s registered parties, indicate that 943,238 ballots (53.99%) were cast against the continuation of the present form of territorial status, while 796,007 (46.01%) voted to maintain it. In the second question, Statehood received 802,179 votes (61.15%), Sovereign Free Associated State received 436,997 votes (33.31%) and Independence received 72,551 votes (5.53%).
“The plebiscite’s results constitute the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico’s clear rejection of the continuation of the current territory status. The U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico have also clearly voted, among the available non-territorial status options, for Puerto Rico’s admission as a state of the Union so that all United States citizens residing in Puerto Rico may have the rights, benefits, and responsibilities equal to those enjoyed by all other citizens of the states of the Union, and be entitled to full representation in Congress and to participate in presidential elections,” Gov. Fortuño wrote the President.
“In endorsing the March 2011 report of your Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status, you wrote that you were ‘firmly committed to the principle that the question of the political status is a matter of self-determination of the people of Puerto Rico.’ In the report, the Task Force concluded that it would be ‘best…for the people of Puerto Rico to speak first, with swift congressional action vindicating their will to follow,’” the Governor wrote.
“In view of this policy and the integrity and clarity of these results, the people of Puerto Rico demand that you and the United States Congress proceed to work together to definitively move this process forward, and enable the implementation of the will of the people of Puerto Rico,” Gov. Fortuño wrote.
In 1898, the treaty that ended the Spanish-American War made Puerto Rico a territory of the United States. The Jones Act of 1917 granted U.S. citizenship to individuals born in Puerto Rico. As a territory of the United States, all federal laws apply in Puerto Rico. The 3.7 million people of the territory are represented in the federal government by a sole Resident Commissioner in the U.S. House of Representatives who can vote in committees but not in the full House; the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico do not have representation in the U.S. Senate.Puerto Rico residents can vote in the presidential primaries but cannot vote for President in the general election.