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When the Spanish-American War ended in 1898, the US gained possession of Puerto Rico, making it a US territory. There have been four attempts in the past by groups in Puerto Rico to become a US state, but they have all failed. The island nation was voting Sunday on a fifth referendum. Many doubt it will pass as most Puerto Ricans do not want to be a state, however, the island is in dire financial trouble and becoming a state could be their salvation.

For the fifth time in Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States, Puerto Ricans voted Sunday on whether they wished to become the country’s 51st state.

This time, the nonbinding referendum came as more than 150 schools were being closed, the public university was set to reopen after a two-month student strike, and the island of 3.4 million people was grappling with $74 billion in debt it could not pay. For Puerto Ricans, the decades-old debate about whether officially embracing the United States would mean losing a hold on the island’s cultural identity has been overshadowed by the largest local government bankruptcy in American history, one that threatens everything from pensions to medical care and education.

“I don’t want to lose my hymn, my shield, my flag. My beauty queen would no longer be ‘Miss Puerto Rico!’” said Ana Velázquez, 50, a hospital secretary. “I don’t see myself ever singing the United States national anthem, I really don’t. But Puerto Rico is in really bad shape and it needs help.” …

I once knew a young man born and raised in Puerto Rico who told that most of the people he knew would rather see Puerto Rico gain its independence rather than becoming a US State. Currently, there is no way that could happen financially as they would be a bankrupt nation before they ever started. However, one of the groups pushing for statehood is doing telling everyone that it would boost their economy. So, how will they vote.

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