Monday, July 15, 2024

Status plebiscite to be included in November’s general elections in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico to Vote on Territorial Status in November General Elections

Puerto Rico to Vote on Territorial Status in November Elections

In a historic move, Puerto Rico’s territorial status will be on the ballot in the U.S. territory’s general elections this coming November. Governor Pedro Pierluisi announced that for the first time, the island’s current status as a U.S. territory will not be an option in the plebiscite.

With a population of 3.2 million people, Puerto Ricans will have the opportunity to choose between statehood, independence, or independence with free association. The terms of the latter option would involve negotiations on foreign affairs, U.S. citizenship, and the use of the U.S. dollar.

Governor Pierluisi, who leads the pro-statehood New Progressive Party, emphasized the importance of this historic vote in asserting Puerto Ricans’ rights as American citizens to demand self-determination through direct voting.

The decision to include the status plebiscite in the general elections follows the approval of a bill by the U.S. House in 2022, aimed at moving Puerto Rico towards changing its territorial status. The bill, known as the Puerto Rico Status Act, excludes the island’s current status as an option, reflecting the diminishing support for the territory’s current political arrangement.

In a statement, Jesús Manuel Ortiz, president of the pro-commonwealth Popular Democratic Party, highlighted the significance of the elections in determining the future of Puerto Rico’s reconstruction and essential services like healthcare and education.

The upcoming referendum will mark the seventh time Puerto Ricans have voted on the island’s political relationship with the United States. The last referendum in November 2020 saw 53% of voters supporting statehood, indicating a shift in popular opinion.

Governor Pierluisi emphasized the importance of continued pressure on Congress to address Puerto Rico’s colonial status, stating that the island has the right to self-determination. Pro-independence and pro-sovereignty organizations recently spoke before the United Nations Decolonization Committee, reaffirming Puerto Rico’s right to independence.

The governor also pointed out that statehood would provide Puerto Ricans with equal access to federal benefits like Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP, and supplemental social security. While residents of Puerto Rico cannot vote in the general presidential election, they are eligible to participate in presidential primaries.

The inclusion of the territorial status vote in the November elections underscores the growing momentum for change in Puerto Rico’s political status and sets the stage for a significant decision that will shape the island’s future.

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