SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - With festive marches and TV ads,
political parties kicked off their campaigns Sunday for a December
plebiscite over Puerto Rico's relationship with the United States.
Hundreds of people who want Puerto Rico to become a U.S. state
waved American flags as they weaved through northern Arecibo on a
"Caravan for Equality."
In eastern Caguas, supporters of the current commonwealth
arrangement countered with a "Commonwealth Crusade" rally, while
independence advocates took to radio talk shows to sell their cause.
Statehooders are already running television advertisements
assuring Puerto Ricans that they would retain their culture and
Spanish language after joining the union. "Statehood: your language,
your culture, your future," promise the ads.
Puerto Rico marks 100 years as a U.S. possession this year, and
the island's pro-statehood governor has been pressuring the U.S.
Congress to hold a vote to resolve the island's ambiguous
relationship with the United States. After the proposal stalled in
the Senate, Rossello called a local, nonbinding plebiscite for Dec.
Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens and receive limited federal
benefits, but they cannot vote for President, have no vote in
Congress and do not pay federal taxes.
The island was ceded to the United States by Spain as part of the
treaty that ended the Spanish-American War in 1898.