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Puerto Rican voters support statehood in criticized referendum

The parade coincided with a nonbinding vote on the island, the fifth in the last 50 years, in which Puerto Ricans wereasked whether they favor statehood, maintaining the status quo, independence or free association, in which the US would continue to provide military protection.

Lopez Rivera's supporters, including "Hamilton" playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda and other celebrities, view him as a symbol of Puerto Rican nationalism and the campaign to end what they see as the colonial status of the USA territory, acquired by the United States after the Spanish-American War.

It did not act on the previous referendum's result, which was the first time ever a majority of valid votes were cast for statehood in the former Spanish colony.

She is pro-statehood and is forming a "Friends of Puerto Rico Caucus" that would press for statehood. With the result of the referendum, Gov. Ricardo Rosello says that the island sent a strong message to the U.S. Congress and the world.

The vote is not the first of its kind, and does not mean that Puerto Rico will automatically become the 51st state of the United States.

Many believe the island's territorial status has contributed to its 10-year economic recession. Chanting "Puerto Rico Not for Sale", people marched in front of their idol, while others called on the USA to release of the nation's "political prisoners".

More than 97 percent of Puerto Ricans who cast ballots in the non-binding plebiscite chose statehood.

More news: Yankees RHP Tanaka pushed back to Monday

Puerto Rico's governor said the territory will now put its "Tennessee plan" into action, meaning it will choose two senators and five representatives to go to Washington, D.C., to request statehood.

Becoming the 51st star on the U.S. flag would instill "new hope" in Puerto Ricans, she told AFP, as well as sorely needed economic aid. The participation rate was almost 23 percent with roughly 2.26 million registered voters.

Congress ultimately has to approve the outcome of Sunday's referendum that offers voters three choices: statehood, free association/independence or the current territorial status.

People participate in the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade marching up 5th Ave. on Sun., June 11, 2017, in New York City. The board recommended, among many measures, to cut US$300 million to $500 million from the Puerto Rican state government budget. The referendum was on the 100th anniversary of Puerto Ricans gaining USA citizenship, though they can't vote for president and their lone congressional representative has limited power, and it coincided with with the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City. From the sidelines, she said she refuses to back the man who served 35 years in prison for his involvement with a group responsible for bombings that killed and maimed dozens of people. Those who remain behind have been hit with new taxes and higher utility bills on an island where food is 22 percent more expensive than the US mainland and public services are 64 percent more expensive.

More than 97 percent of voters favoured attempting to join the United States over becoming independent or remaining a self-governing territory.

A department spokesman told the AP that the agency has not reviewed or approved the ballot's language.

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