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Puerto Rico Must Ultimately Choose Between Statehood and Independence

November 20, 1998
Copyright 1998. The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - Just 23 days before Puerto Ricans vote on the island's political future, Sen. Robert Torricelli said Friday that Puerto Rico must ultimately choose between statehood or independence.

The question is not whether Congress will approve statehood but whether it will allow the current commonwealth status to continue, Torricelli said at a news conference with Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Rossello and Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas, who was born in Puerto Rico and has family there.

The Democratic senator from New Jersey said the elimination in 1996 of a key federal tax break for U.S. corporations with operations in Puerto Rico was the beginning of the end for commonwealth status .

On Dec. 13, voters will choose between four status definitions that describe statehood , independence, free association and the current commonwealth status . But the political party supporting commonwealth has urged its followers to vote "none of the above" to protest Congress' definition of commonwealth.

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