Puerto Rico residents head to the polls Sunday to vote on whether the island should become the 51st U.S. state, a prospect that the island’s pro-statehood governor has been promoting as a solution to the island’s debt crisis.
Gov. Ricardo Rosselló from the New Progressive Party and his government have been pushing for statehood on the non-binding referendum, NBC News reported.
But the endeavor faces an uphill battle. The U.S. territory has been shuttering schools and cutting pensions, while its residents flee to the U.S. in search of work.
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The Puerto Rican government is wrestling with a formidable $73 billion debt and is currently in the courts under a U.S. federal district judge trying to negotiate a form of bankruptcy process. As a U.S. territory and not a state, the island cannot file for bankruptcy like other states and municipalities.