The voters of Puerto Rico have spoken, Congress must pave the way for statehood
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The United States citizens of Puerto Rico have spoken, loud and clear. We want statehood and we wanted it now. This past Sunday, Puerto Ricans went to the polls in an historic status referendum in which the people decided to end more than a century of colonial rule by joining the union as its fifty-first state.

In a resounding fashion, almost 98 percent of the voters cast their ballots for statehood. In all, 512,000 U.S. citizens voted for the admission of the Island, a U.S. territory since the end of the Spanish-American War of 1898.


It is now up to the Congress and the White House to pave the way for statehood with the enacting of legislation conducting towards the admission of Puerto Rico. There are simply no more excuses for delaying the will of the people, which was expressed freely and democratically this past Sunday.

The numbers gathered by the statehood option, 512,000 total votes, represents more than 24 percent of all eligible voters in Puerto Rico. By comparison, when the people of the great state of Wisconsin ratified their desire to join the union back in 1848, it did so with around 23,183 votes. That figure represented less than 17 percent of the total population at the time.

The same occurred in Arizona when in 1911 around seven percent of all eligible voters cast their ballots for admission. Alaska started their admission process in 1946 with 21 percent of the voters (16,375 votes out of 75,000 available). There are many other examples like the ones just mentioned. There’s also the historic fact that Congress has not denied any admission petition.

In the upcoming weeks, our governor, Ricardo Rosselló, as well as many of our elected leaders, will officially request statehood for Puerto Rico.  

The will of the people of Puerto Rico can’t and shouldn’t be denied by Washington’s famous gridlock. The United States owes the people of Puerto Rico that much. For more than a century, our citizens have fought alongside their counterparts in the states, in every theater of war this nation has participated. Puerto Ricans have made great contributions to our nation in all fields of human endeavor, including science, arts, sports and politics.

Time has come and the people have spoken. The U.S. citizens want statehood. We have played by the rules and now it is time to see concrete action. Congress should and needs to make the issue of Puerto Rico one of its highest priorities during the next few weeks. The White House should also be involved in this process and should push for it.

Remember, then candidate Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit MORE publicly expressed his support for the will of the people of Puerto Rico. That will has been stated, now it’s time to act.

Jose Aponte-Hernandez is a state representative in Puerto Rico and is the former Speaker of the House for the territory.

The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.