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Statehood for Puerto Rico: Legislators to introduce bills giving Puerto Rico statehood bypass a referendum



Washington – A bipartite group of legislators will introduce legislation Thursday that would admit Puerto Rico in the Union as the 51st State without referendum on the island's territorial status, four sources familiar with the situation told CBS News.

The bill will be revealed by the Florida Rep. Darren Soto, a Democrat representing parts of Orlando and its large Puerto Rican community during a press conference in Washington, will be attended by island governments Ricardo Rosselló, a vocal supporter of Puerto Rico's state. If adopted, the legislation will automatically trigger the island's entry into the association, outside the referendum, the sources say.

"It is absurd that the world's greatest democracy in the 21

st century still holds territories where citizens are not allowed the fundamental right to vote for their president. It is shameful and it must end," a Puerto Ruler Rico told CBS News. "We welcome Rep. Soto to reinforce this error."

For the past seven years, the Portuguese government has held two referendums on the island's status. In both cases, the voters chose statehood, but because any change in status requires congressional approval, the results were symbolic. The boycott of one of the most important political parties became the last referendum in 2017 appalled by historically low turnout.

Although it could secure passage in the democratically controlled house, the legislation will almost certainly be against the Trump administration and the Republican controlled Senate. Last year President Trump he is an "absolute no" to Portuguese state art, as long as critics such as San Juan's mayor remain in the office.

Two Democratic congressional sources told CBS News that the measure would allow the party to send a clear message on Puerto Rico at a time when they believe the federal government is abusing US territory, which is still about to recover from a couple of strong storms and grappling with decades of financial instability.

Since Hurricane Maria destroyed the island in 2017, Congress Democrats and many elected officials in Puerto Rico have been home to approx. 3.2 million US citizens accused the Trump administration of treating Puerto Ricans as second-class citizens. The White House's handling of recovery efforts for hurricanes María and Irma has been heavily criticized by some local residents, leaders and most Democrats in Congress.

On Tuesday, several media stores reported Mr Trump privately told Republican senators he opposed further disaster relief to the island because he believed that the US territory received too many federal aid funds over states that Texas and Florida, which have also been hit by storms over the past two years.

Puerto Rican leaders have also dismissed the administration to consider redirecting disaster relief funds to fund the president's long-term wall along the US-Mexico border and oppose $ 600 million in food aid called the White House "excessive and unnecessary." [19659003] As the bill would not include a referendum where voters can choose the change in territorial status if they so wish, the legislative effort is likely to be met by fierce opposition from some political leaders, citizens and groups, including pro-independence movements and people who want that voters must make a decision before any change in territorial status.

For decades, the Caribbean island has faced an eternal struggle for self-determination issues dating back to the late 19th century when the United States acquired the territory after the Spanish-American war.

At present, Puerto Rico has only one non-voting member serving in the House of Representatives. Statehood would give Puerto Rico Congressional representation in both the Senate and Parliament as well as a stronger influence in the presidential election.

Since they have no voting rights in Congress, voters living in Puerto Rico and other US territories do not have the right to vote. Despite non-voting representation in Congress, voters in the District of Columbia have been able to vote at the presidential election since the 23rd amendment was ratified in 1961.


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