Puerto Rican status referendum, 1998

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Puerto Rican status referendum, 1998
Location Puerto Rico
Date December 13, 1998; 18 years ago (1998-12-13)
Voting system first-past-the-post
Results
Statehood
  
46.6%
Independence
  
2.6%
Free association
  
0.3%
Territorial commonwealth
  
0.0%
None of the above
  
50.5%

A referendum on the political status of Puerto Rico was held on 13 December 1998.[1] Voters were given the choice between statehood, independence, free association, being a territorial commonwealth, or none of the given options. A majority voted for the latter, with a turnout of 71.3%.[2]

Five alternatives were listed on the ballot: “limited self-government”; “free association”; “statehood”; “sovereignty”; and “none of the above.” Disputes arose as to the definition of each of the ballot alternatives; and commonwealth advocates, among others, reportedly urged a vote for “none of the above.” They asserted that the commonwealth definition on the ballot “failed to recognize both the constitutional protections afforded to our U.S. citizenship and the fact that the relationship is based upon the mutual consent of Puerto Rico and the United States.” In the end, a slim majority of voters in that plebiscite selected “none of the above” (50.3%).[3]

Definition of status options[edit]

The resulting political climate after the 1998 plebiscite reflected the need for proper definitions of status options.

In its June, 2011, Political Status of Puerto Rico: Options for Congress report, the Congressional Research Service states that the "definitions or, more specifically, the lack of definitions of the political status options for Puerto Rico, compound the complexity of the debate."[4] The report stated that constitutional implications of three status options (“new commonwealth,” statehood, and independence) were reviewed by the Department of Justice in response to a congressional request. The history of debate, particularly the 1998 plebiscite, indicates that in the absence of constitutionally valid status options and definitions acceptable to Congress, the debate over status yields few or no conclusive results. The brief summaries of the options analysis on pages 26 and 27 of the report follow:

Commonwealth[edit]

"The commonwealth option represents a continuation of the current status of Puerto Rico. The territorial clause of the United States Constitution empowers Congress with the authority to regulate territories. Commonwealth status for Puerto Rico is based on statutory provisions and the Constitution of Puerto Rico that established a republican form of self-government. (Puerto Rico Federal Relations Act, P.L. 81-600, 64 Stat. 319). Under current federal law, residents of Puerto Rico enjoy U.S. citizenship, but many contend that the Puerto Rican identity reflects a degree of autonomy that enables the island to remain somewhat separate from, but part of, the United States. On the 1992, "Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies" of President George H.W. Bush, it described the relationship of the Commonwealth to the United States with regard to the administration of federal programs, as follows: “Because Puerto Rico’s degree of constitutional self-government, population, and size set it apart from other areas also subject to federal jurisdiction under Article IV, section 3, clause 2 of the Constitution, I hereby direct all federal departments, agencies, and officials, to the extent consistent with the Constitution and the laws of the United States, hence-forward to treat Puerto Rico administratively as if it were a state, except insofar as doing so with respect to an existing federal program or activity would increase or decrease federal receipts or expenditures, or would seriously disrupt the operation of such program or activity.” Some support an enhanced or “new” commonwealth status and seek changes in the current relationship to increase the autonomy of Puerto Rico. Aspects of enhanced commonwealth considered but rejected by Congress in 1991 and 2001 included providing the government of Puerto Rico authority to certify that certain federal laws would not be applicable to the commonwealth, mandating that the President consult with the governor on appointments to federal offices in Puerto Rico that require Senate approval, recognizing a permanent relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States that cannot be unilaterally changed, and establishing economic relationships with other nations. Concepts associated with enhanced or new commonwealth have not been published in 2005, but the former governor has reportedly sought additional sovereign authority that would enable Puerto Rico’s government officials to negotiate international agreements and establish new intergovernmental fiscal relations with the federal government. The Department of Justice (Raben Letter) found that certain aspects of a “New Commonwealth” proposal described in PDP platform documents could be, or are: “constitutionally unenforceable” or flawed (mutual consent provisions and delegation of powers), of uncertain legality (statutory citizenship, and international agreements, and possibly subject to constitutional limits (Resident Commissioner authority)."[4]

Free Association[edit]

"This option would establish Puerto Rico as a sovereign nation separate from, but legally bound (on a terminable basis) to, the United States. As a general practice, free association would be preceded by recognition that Puerto Rico is a self-governing sovereign nation not part of the United States, because compacts of free association are legal documents between sovereign nations. Free association could be accompanied by a transition period in which the United States would continue to administer certain services and provide assistance to the island for a period of time specified in the compact. Free association could be annulled at any time by either nation. Negotiations over free association would likely decide issues of trade, defense, currency, and economic aid."[4]

Independence[edit]

"Some advocates of independence contend that the cultural identity of Puerto Ricans, and other factors, justify independence. As residents of a sovereign independent nation, Puerto Ricans could develop closer ties to Caribbean nations, but would likely be forced to choose between citizenship in the United States or in Puerto Rico. The current unrestricted travel between the United States and the island might end, as would federal benefits (unless specified in the enabling legislation). Puerto Rico would, as a sovereign nation, develop its own economy, form of government, and complete national identity."[4]

Statehood[edit]

"Advocates of statehood contend that the full rights and responsibilities of citizenship should be granted to residents of Puerto Rico. Political stability, particularly as an economic development tool, is seen by some to be one significant advantage of statehood. As residents of a state, Puerto Ricans would be entitled to full representation in Congress, would be subject to income taxes, and would be eligible to receive federal assistance like that provided to all of the states. Opponents argue that statehood would result in a loss of national identity."[4]

Results[edit]

Results by municipality:
  For Statehood
  None of the above
Choice Votes %
Statehood 728,157 46.6
Independence 39,838 2.6
Free association 4,536 0.3
Territorial commonwealth 993 0.0
None of the above 787,900 50.5
Invalid/blank votes 4,846
Total 1,556,270 100
Source: Nohlen

By municipality[edit]

Municipality None of the above Statehood Independence Free Association Territorial commonwealth Null Blank Total
Votes % Votes % Votes % Votes % Votes % Votes % Votes %
Loíza 3,950 41.6 5,286 55.7 215 2.3 16 0.2 8 0.1 12 0.1 11 0.1 9,498
Moca 7,995 44 9,794 53.9 291 1.6 35 0.2 11 0.1 31 0.2 26 0.1 18,183
Maricao 1,531 44.8 1,801 52.7 54 1.6 6 0.2 3 0.1 11 0.3 10 0.3 3,416
Villalba 4,973 45.7 5,660 52.1 169 1.6 19 0.2 3 0 14 0.1 33 0.3 10,871
Aguadilla 12,167 45.7 13,787 51.8 509 1.9 52 0.2 22 0.1 53 0.2 24 0.1 26,614
Guaynabo 18,332 44.9 20,935 51.3 1,190 2.9 204 0.5 40 0.1 69 0.2 32 0.1 40,802
Las Piedras 6,792 46.7 7,452 51.2 226 1.6 27 0.2 7 0 29 0.2 15 0.1 14,548
Adjuntas 4,247 47 4,572 50.6 148 1.6 21 0.2 8 0.1 15 0.2 27 0.3 9,038
Manatí 8,783 46.4 9,590 50.6 435 2.3 61 0.3 12 0.1 32 0.2 24 0.1 18,937
Florida 2,458 45.5 2,732 50.5 186 3.4 15 0.3 2 0 9 0.2 6 0.1 5,408
Ciales 4,580 47.7 4,820 50.2 146 1.5 12 0.1 2 0 13 0.1 21 0.2 9,594
Río Grande 8,546 47 9,100 50 409 2.2 55 0.3 16 0.1 43 0.2 22 0.1 18,191
Bayamón 43,912 47 46,435 49.7 2,488 2.7 320 0.3 56 0.1 174 0.2 80 0.1 93,465
Camuy 8,190 48.2 8,442 49.7 254 1.5 34 0.2 9 0.1 30 0.2 32 0.2 16,991
Fajardo 6,660 47.2 7,015 49.7 344 2.4 34 0.2 19 0.1 32 0.2 15 0.1 14,119
San Lorenzo 8,067 47.7 8,405 49.7 313 1.9 39 0.2 11 0.1 36 0.2 26 0.2 16,897
Cidra 7,762 45.8 8,377 49.5 687 4.1 50 0.3 8 0 36 0.2 17 0.1 16,937
Jayuya 3,961 47.7 4,104 49.5 181 2.2 16 0.2 5 0.1 18 0.2 14 0.2 8,299
Juncos 6,555 47.9 6,769 49.5 271 2 20 0.1 10 0.1 27 0.2 19 0.1 13,671
Arroyo 4,058 47 4,261 49.3 266 3.1 14 0.2 6 0.1 20 0.2 11 0.1 8,636
Arecibo 21,024 48.1 21,528 49.2 915 2.1 96 0.2 20 0 83 0.2 59 0.1 43,725
Utuado 7,688 48.7 7,757 49.2 248 1.6 25 0.2 7 0 34 0.2 21 0.1 15,780
Corozal 8,501 48.8 8,533 48.9 308 1.8 24 0.1 8 0 30 0.2 29 0.2 17,433
Cataño 6,052 48.2 6,124 48.7 303 2.4 43 0.3 7 0.1 24 0.2 14 0.1 12,567
Orocovis 5,917 49.4 5,826 48.6 167 1.4 11 0.1 6 0.1 35 0.3 19 0.2 11,981
Aguada 9,044 49 8,885 48.1 383 2.1 48 0.3 9 0 35 0.2 49 0.3 18,453
Aguas Buenas 5,989 47.6 6,037 48 491 3.9 30 0.2 2 0 17 0.1 15 0.1 12,581
Quebradillas 6,095 49.3 5,934 48 273 2.2 29 0.2 3 0 23 0.2 11 0.1 12,368
Añasco 6,632 50.2 6,334 47.9 186 1.4 28 0.2 3 0 19 0.1 17 0.1 13,219
Lares 7,282 49.4 7,033 47.7 359 2.4 35 0.2 4 0 20 0.1 14 0.1 14,747
Maunabo 2,838 48.3 2,805 47.7 197 3.4 9 0.2 6 0.1 10 0.2 10 0.2 5,875
Ceiba 2,782 49.9 2,647 47.5 107 1.9 15 0.3 5 0.1 10 0.2 10 0.2 5,576
Comerío 5,099 49.7 4,869 47.5 249 2.4 14 0.1 2 0 12 0.1 10 0.1 10,255
Juana Díaz 9,737 50.4 9,125 47.3 321 1.7 38 0.2 3 0 45 0.2 33 0.2 19,302
Toa Alta 10,353 49.8 9,794 47.2 511 2.5 55 0.3 7 0 41 0.2 11 0.1 20,772
Toa Baja 17,324 49.5 16,496 47.1 958 2.7 99 0.3 24 0.1 74 0.2 29 0.1 35,004
Hatillo 8,888 50.7 8,220 46.9 326 1.9 42 0.2 9 0.1 20 0.1 19 0.1 17,524
Peñuelas 5,314 48.5 5,139 46.9 429 3.9 28 0.3 8 0.1 19 0.2 23 0.2 10,960
Barranquitas 6,938 50.6 6,404 46.7 298 2.2 17 0.1 7 0.1 24 0.2 12 0.1 13,700
Carolina 36,565 50 34,151 46.7 1,870 2.6 253 0.3 43 0.1 115 0.2 61 0.1 73,058
Luquillo 4,029 50.7 3,699 46.6 158 2 33 0.4 2 0 12 0.2 9 0.1 7,942
Patillas 4,706 50 4,383 46.6 252 2.7 22 0.2 7 0.1 18 0.2 20 0.2 9,408
San Juan 82,427 49.4 77,537 46.5 5,490 3.3 871 0.5 135 0.1 309 0.2 135 0.1 166,904
Gurabo 7,051 50.6 6,460 46.4 334 2.4 39 0.3 9 0.1 27 0.2 9 0.1 13,929
Isabela 10,871 51.2 9,844 46.4 388 1.8 42 0.2 5 0 37 0.2 33 0.2 21,220
Guayama 8,290 50.5 7,551 46 442 2.7 38 0.2 11 0.1 48 0.3 23 0.1 16,403
Yabucoa 9,451 51.5 8,435 46 353 1.9 32 0.2 16 0.1 39 0.2 25 0.1 18,351
Naguabo 5,500 51.6 4,878 45.8 208 2 19 0.2 4 0 28 0.3 13 0.1 10,650
Ponce 34,690 50.8 31,264 45.8 1,830 2.7 204 0.3 52 0.1 139 0.2 87 0.1 68,266
Coamo 8,344 52.7 7,178 45.3 239 1.5 21 0.1 11 0.1 24 0.2 20 0.1 15,837
Las Marías 2,805 52.4 2,411 45.1 105 2 6 0.1 1 0 8 0.1 12 0.2 5,348
San Germán 8,605 52 7,432 44.9 375 2.3 63 0.4 17 0.1 38 0.2 27 0.2 16,557
Guánica 4,659 52 4,005 44.7 250 2.8 22 0.2 7 0.1 13 0.1 9 0.1 8,965
Morovis 7,237 53.5 6,036 44.6 204 1.5 17 0.1 3 0 18 0.1 23 0.2 13,538
Caguas 30,388 52.3 25,582 44 1,787 3.1 190 0.3 40 0.1 116 0.2 46 0.1 58,149
Trujillo Alto 14,112 51.9 11,973 44 901 3.3 115 0.4 18 0.1 45 0.2 21 0.1 27,185
Barceloneta 5,552 54.1 4,501 43.9 151 1.5 12 0.1 3 0 24 0.2 11 0.1 10,254
Canóvanas 8,405 53.1 6,945 43.9 352 2.2 45 0.3 9 0.1 47 0.3 15 0.1 15,818
San Sebastián 11,335 52.2 9,499 43.7 748 3.4 59 0.3 12 0.1 43 0.2 32 0.1 21,728
Vega Alta 8,548 53.5 6,975 43.6 362 2.3 42 0.3 8 0.1 38 0.2 19 0.1 15,992
Vega Baja 13,559 54 10,801 43 625 2.5 47 0.2 12 0 50 0.2 23 0.1 25,117
Yauco 9,947 53.7 7,879 42.6 556 3 49 0.3 18 0.1 27 0.1 34 0.2 18,510
Mayagüez 22,611 53.9 17,847 42.5 1,191 2.8 141 0.3 27 0.1 96 0.2 49 0.1 41,962
Santa Isabel 4,786 54.9 3,702 42.5 170 2 21 0.2 5 0.1 6 0.1 21 0.2 8,711
Rincón 4,093 55.9 3,082 42.1 97 1.3 11 0.2 4 0.1 21 0.3 15 0.2 7,323
Cayey 11,228 54.2 8,706 42 629 3 63 0.3 21 0.1 29 0.1 34 0.2 20,710
Hormigueros 4,407 54.2 3,408 41.9 268 3.3 19 0.2 7 0.1 12 0.1 16 0.2 8,137
Lajas 6,450 56.1 4,750 41.3 238 2.1 24 0.2 9 0.1 15 0.1 18 0.2 11,504
Cabo Rojo 10,252 53.9 7,839 41.2 796 4.2 62 0.3 10 0.1 48 0.3 23 0.1 19,030
Humacao 13,184 56.1 9,577 40.8 567 2.4 73 0.3 23 0.1 41 0.2 26 0.1 23,491
Guayanilla 5,411 55.3 3,934 40.2 378 3.9 16 0.2 3 0 24 0.2 24 0.2 9,790
Vieques 2,207 56.2 1,580 40.2 110 2.8 7 0.2 2 0.1 12 0.3 12 0.3 3,930
Salinas 6,726 57.2 4,693 39.9 259 2.2 28 0.2 5 0 17 0.1 26 0.2 11,754
Dorado 8,547 57.2 5,887 39.4 426 2.9 27 0.2 13 0.1 34 0.2 10 0.1 14,944
Culebra 492 57 336 38.9 28 3.2 0 0 4 0.5 1 0.1 2 0.2 863
Naranjito 8,924 59.4 5,749 38.3 298 2 18 0.1 8 0.1 19 0.1 12 0.1 15,028
Sabana Grande 7,257 60.5 4,425 36.9 238 2 27 0.2 8 0.1 19 0.2 15 0.1 11,989
Aibonito 7,233 60.1 4,396 36.5 354 2.9 22 0.2 3 0 20 0.2 10 0.1 12,038
Total 787,900 50.3 728,157 46.5 39,838 2.5 4,536 0.3 993 0.1 2,956 0.2 1,890 0.1 1,566,270

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nohlen, D (2005) Elections in the Americas: A data handbook, Volume I, p552 ISBN 978-0-19-928357-6
  2. ^ Nohlen, p555
  3. ^ Political Status of Puerto Rico: Options for Congress. page 19.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Political Status of Puerto Rico: Options for Congress." (PDF). Congressional Research Service. June 7, 2011. Retrieved August 14, 2011Pages 26 & 27