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THE ASSOCIATED PRESS POLITICAL SERVICE
Pro-Statehood Puerto Ricans Launch Campaign
by David Briscoe
December 3, 1998
©Copyright 1998. The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved
WASHINGTON (AP) - Advocates of statehood for Puerto Rico launched
a campaign Thursday they hope will open the nation's arms to statehood
for the commonwealth after it votes on the issue Dec. 13.
Hernan Padilla, former mayor of San Juan and chairman of the
U.S. Council for Puerto Rico Statehood , predicted success in
the vote, although it is not binding, either on Puerto Rico or
the U.S. Congress.
In the most recent vote, in 1993, 49 percent of voters opted for
Puerto Rico to remain a commonwealth, 46 percent for statehood
and 5 percent for independence.
"It is imperative that Americans focus now on the political
struggle going on in Puerto Rico ," Padilla said at a news
conference. Representatives of groups working for Puerto Rico
statehood from a dozen states also attended the session.
The Dec. 13 plebiscite gives Puerto Ricans five options: continued
commonwealth status , statehood , independence, free association
with treaty ties to the United States or "none of the above."
The House approved by one vote this year what would have been
a more binding vote, but the legislation failed to come up in
the Senate. Statehood supporters hope a favorable vote by Puerto
Ricans will help push the issue through Congress next year.
The bill would have set Puerto Rico and its 3.8 million residents
on a course towards possible statehood in 10 years or more, subject
to several votes by its citizens and Congress.
Padilla said the new council would work to educate Americans about
Puerto Rico and its quest to become the 51st state. Island residents
are U.S. citizens represented in Congress by a single nonvoting
delegate. They cannot vote in presidential elections and pay no
"The debate and struggle in Congress reflects that which
the Puerto Rican people have undergone themselves ever since Puerto
Rico came under the U.S. flag 100 years ago," Padilla said.
Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Rossello, who favors statehood , called
the referendum before the end of the anniversary year after failing
to get Congress to set up a more decisive vote.
Click here for statement
by Dr. Hernán Padilla.
Click here for related news
release on the US Council for Puerto Rico Statehood.