The United States of America consists of 50 states. But this could soon change. On June, 11th a referendum will be held in Puerto Rico with becoming a state as one of the options.
On August, 21st 1959 Hawaii received the status of state and became the 50th star on the flag of the USA. But soon a 51st star could be added. In a referendum on June, 11th 2017 Puerto Ricans can vote for which status they want for their island.
Since the end of the Spanish-American war in 1898 Puerto Rico is a part of the USA, but not as a state. Officially Puerto Rico is an ‘unincorporated territory’ of the USA. Due to this status US federal laws are enforced on the island and since 1917 inhabitants of Puerto Rico are American citizens. But Puerto Ricans cannot vote for the presidency or congress. Also the foreign policy is managed by the USA. On the other side, the island has to pay full social contributions, while they are only getting a part of the benefits a state receives.
In the referendum 3 options are given to the citizens of Puerto Rico:
- Option 1: Puerto Rico becomes a state with all rights and responsibilities
- Option 2: Puerto Rico becomes an independent country, with possibilities for close relations with the USA
- Option 3: The current status of ‘unincorporated territory’ is maintained
The 3th option was added under pressure of the US government. The Trump administration would like to keep a status quo due to the strategich importance of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean, without giving extra rights and funds to the island.
Question is whether the referendum will change anything, because the final decision has to be taken bij the USA, so by President Trump.