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Advocates Say 64% of Central Florida Puerto Ricans Favor Statehood

Advocates for Puerto Rican statehood gather in Orlando and discuss a new survey, photo by Amy Kiley
Advocates for Puerto Rican statehood gather in Orlando and discuss a new survey, photo by Amy Kiley

A new poll from a group that favors Puerto Rican statehood shows most Central Floridians with ties to the island want it to become the 51st state.  That number arises on a survey in which retaining the status quo is not an option.

The Puerto Rican Statehood Council commissioned the poll, which found that 64 percent of Central Florida Puerto Ricans want the island to become a state.

The catch is that respondents couldn’t choose Puerto Rico’s status quo as a commonwealth when answering.

Alfonso Aguilar is executive director of American Principles in Action's Latino Partnership.  At a meeting with fellow statehood advocates Thursday, Aguilar pointed to a nonbinding 2012 referendum in Puerto Rico. It was the first time a majority – 54 percent of voters – supported statehood. He says, "The majority of the people rejected the current status, so the question is how do we move forward? What are the options that Puerto Rican voters have to achieve self-determination, full self-determination?"

Statehood requires an act of Congress, and Puerto Ricans on the island can’t vote for most federal lawmakers. But, Puerto Ricans living in Florida can. "If you want to win Florida, you need the Puerto Rican vote," Aguilar says. "And, if you want to win the Puerto Rican vote, you have to support statehood."

That said, the same 2012 referendum shows 46 percent of Puerto Ricans want to keep the status quo. Many don’t want to pay federal income tax or answer questions about Spanish as the island’s primary language.

The poll results are here.

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