Puerto Rico opens bid for statehood, enlists 5.6 million islanders in US

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In a bold bid that could lead to statehood, Puerto Rico’s governor is blitzing New York, Florida, and the media, including this weekend’s White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, to demand political rights for his island.
The weeklong campaign by Gov. Ricardo Rossell√≥ is aimed at energizing and registering 5.6 million islanders in the U.S. and convincing them to vote for pro-Puerto Rico lawmakers. 
In one of nearly a dozen media appearances, Rossell√≥ threatened Wednesday night on "The Daily Show, " “If you go against the people of Puerto Rico, we will vote you out.”
The island was devastated several months ago in a hurricane and it is expecting a similarly harsh hurricane season this year.
Rossell√≥ is in Washington to seek continued funding, but also to build his island’s political base in Washington.
He is starting with Puerto Rican communities in Florida and New York, where support is already high for the island. His goal is to expand that support.
To do that he is promoting a campaign called PODER, Spanish for “power,” which is a new voter empowerment initiative to mobilize Puerto Ricans living in the U.S. Those on the mainland are allowed to vote in national elections, unlike those on the island.
“The call is for all Puerto Ricans to activate themselves during elections in the United States, no matter which political party they sympathize with or that they belong to no political party. The goal is for each Puerto Rican residing inside and outside the Island to serve as spokespeople for the causes that benefit Puerto Rico,” he said.
During his trip and media blitz he has not criticized President Trump, who visited the island after Hurricane Maria. Instead he has focused on cutting red tape and increasing the political power of the island.
In addition to appearing at the press dinner Saturday and on "The Daily Show" Wednesday, his nonstop media campaign has included talks with CNBC's "Squawk Box," CBS' "Early Show," Fox 5 NYC's “New Day,” WABC New York, the New York Times, and Fortune Magazine.
“We need to showcase the political power of Puerto Ricans, so we can start pressing the issues that matter most to us — quality of life, real solutions to problems,” he said, adding, “Puerto Ricans are American citizens, with all the same rights and privileges as anyone in this country. For too long, we have been second class citizens, and we can no longer accept the status quo.”

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