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Florida Delegation Weighs in as Puerto Rico Readies for Vote on Statehood, Independence

June 8, 2017 - 11:00am
Stephanie Murphy, Carlos Curbelo and Darren Soto
Stephanie Murphy, Carlos Curbelo and Darren Soto

With Puerto Rico holding a plebiscite on Sunday on its status, members of the Florida congressional delegation are weighing in on the matter with one Democrat from the Sunshine State continuing to push for statehood.

Puerto Rican voters will have three options on Sunday: statehood, becoming independent or keeping its current territorial status. In a referendum held in 2012, 46 percent of Puerto Rican voters opted for their current status while 54 percent wanted change. In the leadup to Sunday’s vote, polls show statehood is the preferred option. Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, NPP-PR, has been leading the charge for statehood. 

With a growing Puerto Rican population in the Sunshine State, several members of the Florida congressional delegation weighed in on the upcoming vote this week. 

U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., whose father was from Puerto Rico, offered his take on the plebiscite. 

“Puerto Rico’s unresolved political status is intimately connected to many of the island’s challenges including its fiscal, economic and demographic crisis,” Soto said. “The decision on Puerto Rico’s ultimate political status has to come from the people, and it’s not my place to try to tell them how to vote.  Yet as a member of the U.S. Congress from Florida, representing a district with a large Puerto Rican population, and being of Puerto Rican heritage myself, I take great interest in the issue.  And I look forward to seeing the outcome of the June 11th plebiscite.

“I encourage my fellow citizens from Puerto Rico to participate in the plebiscite and I will strongly support its outcome,” Soto added. “As a member of the House Natural Resources Committee and the Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs, which has direct jurisdiction over Puerto Rican affairs, I want to reaffirm my commitment to advocate strongly for the federal government to honor and respect the wishes and will of the people of Puerto Rico. 

“Ultimately, I believe that it is in the best interest of my constituents, our fellow citizens in the territory, and America as a whole, that Congress work to ensure a strong and vibrant Puerto Rico,” Soto concluded. “Congress must resolve Puerto Rico’s political status to unleash its full economic potential and return prosperity to the island.”

While Soto did not offer his thoughts on how Puerto Rico should vote on Sunday, a fellow Central Florida Democrat continued to call for voters to choose statehood. 

“Central Florida is home to many individuals born in Puerto Rico or of Puerto Rican heritage,”said U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., on Wednesday. “I care deeply about the 3.4 million individuals that reside on the island.  They are proud and patriotic American citizens who have made countless contributions to our nation in times of war and peace. 

“Because Puerto Rico is a territory, the people of Puerto Rico cannot vote for their president and commander-in-chief, and do not have a vote in Congress,” Murphy added. “This lack of democratic rights is unacceptable.  Puerto Rico is also treated unequally under critical federal programs, such as Medicaid, Medicare, and refundable federal tax credits like the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit.  This unequal treatment has been a primary cause of the island’s economic, debt, and migration crises, and it must be addressed.

“As Puerto Ricans head to the polls on June 11, I will be watching with great interest,” Murphy continued.  “As I have stated before, I believe Puerto Rico should discard its territory status and become a state or a sovereign nation.  The choice lies with the people of Puerto Rico.  My personal hope is that they will choose statehood, so they have full voting rights and full equality in the nation they have served with honor.” 

Murphy, a freshman in Congress, took to the House floor back in March to call for Puerto Rican statehood. 

In South Florida, U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., did not say which path he thought Puerto Rico should take though he encouraged voters to head to the polls on Sunday. 

“Elections are the cornerstone of our American democracy and voter participation is our opportunity as individuals to uphold the values of freedom and liberty,” Curbelo said. “As our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico approach the unique opportunity to vote on the fundamental question of Puerto Rico’s future political status, I encourage all citizens to participate in this plebiscite on June 11 so their voices can be heard.”


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we already have enough poor, uneducated brown people in this country looking for whitey to pay some of their bills. we don't need more. go back to mexico, lol

On a positive note, I would rather have the PR's than the terrorists. Ya gotta admit that a lot of the women are cute. Suppose the ACLU would object if we just let the women in? You know, in a humanitarian gesture while the men folks straightened out the abysmal mess they have created out of a once beautiful island?

My bet is they'll retain their present territorial status, as they repeatedly always have. Why become a State and pay taxes when you "can ride for free" as you always have... And, if they continue to screw up the PR economy,...there's always "Miami"!

you are obviously a moron. probably a closet ?????? you should leave this country if you don't like it. Ponce Deleon was the first governor or Puerto Rico in 1508 before your lazy ??? ancestors crawled out of Europe. Go home.

"REALITY" is hard for you to swallow; isn't it "jay"? (And SOoo much anger from my Liberal brown brother!!!) Tsk., Tsk..

But... but.... what about a 51-STAR FLAG? Just wouldn't work!

United States: For Sale, Puerto Rico!

Before commenting study the facts about Puerto Rico.

No statehood Puerto Rico is financially bankrupt because they chose the path of socialism! The American taxpayers would have to bail them out then!

Whatever the reason, if WE bail them out, the only thing we'd be doing is assuring them of our overloaded teats for them to join and SUCK!

Believe Mark said about all needs to be said. Who the hell ever made it a territory? What sort of political payoff was involved there?

In 1948, Puerto Rican "Separatists" brought guns into Congress and "shot it up" in order to AVOID Statehood. ENOUGH SAID?!? (It's ALL in the "History Books" (that haven't yet suffered "revisionism" by Liberal Democrats...)

Great news! As if we don't have enough people drawing benefits, now, we'll have most of the state of Puerto Rico! Small wonder why the 'real' U.S. is financially going under!!

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