Does Puerto Rico really want to become the 51st US state?

While more than half voted to change Puerto Rico's commonwealth status, the vote did not offer a clear sense of whether statehood or independence is the preferred next step, writes a guest blogger.

Ricardo Arduengo/AP
People ride atop a vehicle waving a Puerto Rican flag during elections in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012.

• A version of this post ran on the author's blog, The views expressed are the author's own.

Once again, Puerto Rico held a referendum with convoluted questions that don't provide a clear answer as to what its citizens want.
On the first of two ballot questions yesterday, 54 percent voted to change its current status from a United States commonwealth. The problem is that those 54 percent are divided among statehood, independence, and a third option. Those who want statehood and those who want independence are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to Puerto Rico's sovereignty, yet both vote "yes" when asked to change the current status.
On the second question about what alternative should be chosen, 61 percent chose statehood, 33 percent chose "sovereign free association" and 6 percent chose independence. However, one third of the voters who answered the first question didn't bother answering the second question, meaning none of the options reached a majority.

I have no opinion on the subject other than I support whatever a significant majority of Puerto Ricans want. If they want statehood, welcome No. 51. If they want independence, they have a right to it. If they want to remain a commonwealth, that's fine too. However, there doesn't appear to be an active majority in Puerto Rico for any of those options and holding multi-part, multi-choice referendums confuses the issue further. 

– James Bosworth is a freelance writer and consultant who runs Bloggings by Boz.

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