The United States House of Representatives approved today that Puerto Ricans will go to a binding referendum in November 2023 to decide their future political status, though it is likely the initiative will founder in the Senate.
The initiative for a referendum offers voters three options: Puerto Rico to be the 51st US state, to be independent, or to be a sovereign territory independently annexed to Washington.
The text approved by 233 votes in favor and 191 against is also headed towards getting stuck in the Senate.
But, other than that, Republicans will recover in January, with legislative changes, control of the lower house and be able to block the project.
“This is the first time that the House of Representatives has approved a bill to permanently resolve the territorial status of Puerto Rico and oblige Congress to implement the will of the people,” said Puerto Rican Governor Pedro Pierluisi. said in his Twitter network account.
And he said it was “another step towards the end of colonialism on the island, and to answer the demand for equality of the island’s citizens”.
Puerto Rico has been a United States territory since 1898 and is considered a commonwealth, has its own constitution and autonomy in various sections, but relies on the United States for such matters as defense, immigration, and customs.
3.3 million Puerto Ricans are citizens of the United States, but they cannot vote in the North American country’s presidential election and their representatives in Congress do not vote either.
This is the fourth time the lower house has approved a bill to hold a referendum, but that initiative was not supported by the Senate on any of the previous three occasions.
The island’s political status has been a matter of debate for decades. Pierluisi’s New Progressive Party (PNP) wants the island to be a US state, and the opposition Popular Democratic Party defends maintaining the current status quo.