Puerto Rico’s elected governor said Wednesday that the new U.S. President-elect Donald Trump would support statehood for the Caribbean island, which is the oldest U.S. colony in the world.
Ricardo Rossello, from the right-wing New Progressive Party, a pro-statehood party won Tuesday’s elections with 41.76 percent of the votes, according to preliminary data from the Puerto Rico State Commission on Elections.
“The Republican platform is very clear in terms of the status of Puerto Rico,” said Rossello, adding that it supports the right of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico to be recognized as the 51st state if they decide to seek such legal situation.
“Having a Republican House (of Representatives), a Republican Senate and a Republican president, there’s no excuse for not carrying it out,” said Rossello.
The new governor will take over from Alejandro Garcia Padilla, in office since 2013, for a four-year term and deal with the nation’s US$73 billion debt load.
Although Puerto Rico is called a “commonwealth” by the U.S.,the U.N. has long recognized it as a U.S. colony, with islanders not having the rights of other U.S. citizens unless they move to the U.S. mainland. This means they can not vote in presidential elections and have no voting powers in the U.S. Congress.
Despite over a century of U.S. repression against the independence movement on the island, liberation activists still have a voice and continue to organize against occupation and the economic crisis caused by the U.S. domination.
Rossello said during the campaign, that Puerto Ricans living in swing states, especially in Florida, where thousands of Puerto Ricans have moved due to the economic crisis, had a key role in deciding the outcome of the presidential race.
Puerto Rico’s ability to manage its own debt crisis has been crippled by its legal status as a U.S. territory, which bars the island from declaring bankruptcy. As a result, Puerto Rico has been deprived of authority to restructure its own debt.