SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A movement to make Puerto Rico the 51st star on the American flag continues to make a push.
As millions across the United States vote in the presidential election Tuesday, Puerto Ricans will vote on whether to become a state.
Puerto Rican Heritage Month kicked off in Springfield with a flag raising at city hall. The ceremony representing the 31st annual Puerto Rico flag raising in the city to honor those who have made contributions to the community.
Springfield City Councilor Adam Gomez, who will be the first Latino from Hampden County to be elected to the Massachusetts Senate expressed his thoughts, “Being Puerto Rican here in Springfield is a great thing but also, we have to be honest with ourselves and understand the privilege of being Puerto Rican in America and standing in solidarity with the rest of your brothers and sisters.”
The ceremony comes one day before Puerto Ricans vote on statehood, which is ultimately in the hands of the U.S. Congress. Puerto Ricans will vote Election Day to see if the U.S. territory should move to become a state, or be granted independence. Puerto Rico has been a U.S. territory since 1952.
“We must play a significant role in the decisions that will decide the future of this country. We are not talking about politics, we are talking about people. We cannot allow the vision to stop us from getting united,” said Representative Carlos Gonzalez.
The issue of statehood has always been a point of contention. Of the five nonbinding referendums since 1967, the 2012 vote was the first in favor of statehood. The last time Congress created a new state was in 1959, when Congress approved Hawaii for admission to the union as the 50th state.
Full statehood would allow its residents constitutional rights, which Puerto Rico doesn’t have.