Wanda Vazquez Garced yesterday signed into law Senate bill ordering a “Statehood: Yes or No” referendum for Puerto Ricans to express whether they want to become a U.S. state or not.
However, the referendum, which will be held next on November 3, the same day as general elections, does not force the United States to accept the results.
Many PNP leaders celebrated at La Fortaleza the signing of the Senate bill, largely, because it was a new approach to the status issue since they can measure if voters accept the statehood option.
Former governor Carlos Romero Barceló recalled that the “Statehood: yes or no” referendum was avoided fearing that those supporting other ideological status tendencies would ally against annexation.
“If we want to contribute as equals and coexist as equals, that is the question,” said Vázquez Garced at a press conference.
Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz indicated that as a colony, Puerto Ricans are discriminated against by the U.S. government since it is here “where they first cut (the federal budget) and where they last distribute (funds).
He said since the referendum will be held the same day as general elections, the only additional funds required would be to print the ballot.
Through budgetary law approved during the Barack Obama administration provided for $2.5 million to cover educational expenses associated with a status plebiscite including options approved by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The governor said they will soon submit the law to the federal justice for evaluation.
President Donald Trump and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have rejected statehood for Puerto Rico.
Trump rejected the idea of making Puerto Rico the 51st state in September 2018, he has consistently criticized the island´s leaders as corrupt.
Indeed, a White House official said that the “Trump Administration is proud of the support given to the people of Puerto Rico to respond to and recover from the 2017 hurricanes, recent earthquakes, and COVID-19. The first priority for all Puerto Rico leaders should be getting their financial house in order,” in reacting to the approval of the referendum.
The Oversight Board by PROMESA – based on the island’s territorial status – could not exist if Puerto Rico became the 51st state.
Under the current restructuring process, it wouldn´t be until 2025 that the Board would leave the island.