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Puerto Rico status under scrutiny by US congressional panel

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Oct. 23, 2007 (AP): A U.S. congressional committee on Tuesday approved a proposal for Puerto Ricans to decide if they want to remain a commonwealth, become a state or be an independent nation.

The process to possibly change
Washington’s relationship with this Spanish-speaking territory would begin with a consultation to determine whether a majority of Puerto Ricans want to change the U.S. commonwealth status that the island has maintained since 1952.

The next step would determine whether a vote for annexation or independence could be done through a plebiscite or a constitutional assembly.

The proposal, approved by the House Natural Resources Committee and supported by Rep. José Serrano, a New York Democrat, and Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner, Luis Fortuno, must be voted on by the full House and Senate to become law.

Puerto Rico was seized by the U.S. in 1898 at the end of the Spanish-American War. Its residents have been U.S. citizens since 1917 but are barred from voting for president and have no voting representation in Congress.






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