The Puerto Rican flag is seen external the Governor"s residence as Puerto Ricans vote in the general election in mountain Juan, Puerto Rico top top November 03, 2020.

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Alexandra Marie Figueroa-Miranda invested days counting ballots ~ the contentious Nov. 3 election. But, together a resident of Puerto Rico, she wasn’t counting any type of votes because that Donald trump card or Joe Biden. She and also the millions of other Americans life in the commonwealth can’t vote in U.S. Presidential elections, in spite of their contribute to commonwealth taxes and also status as U.S. Citizens.

The concern of Puerto Rico’s colonial status and also how finest Puerto Ricans deserve to exercise their civil liberties as American citizen has been at the love of every election on the island in current memory, including this one. For the 3rd in 53 years, Puerto Ricans poll in donate of coming to be a U.S. State in a non-binding referendum on the ballot, and also elected a new governor native the island’s main pro-statehood party.

But, because that the first, a constellation of brand-new parties that attracted big numbers the younger voters could signal a brand-new direction because that the region entirely.

“We’re precise fighting for our lives,” claims Figueroa-Miranda, founder of La Clara, a politics youth advocacy group. “These elections have actually been for this reason important due to the fact that for the last four years, we’ve to be improvising a country.”

For decades, Puerto Ricans have confronted a collection of contending economic and political crises. Yet in the last four years, things have gotten worse. Student strikes over austerity measures, the devastation of back-to-back Hurricanes Irma and also Maria, destructive earthquakes, a climbing fiscal debt and the local affect of climate adjust has carried the island come a crossroads.

Many Puerto Ricans reference the territory’s two-party political mechanism for the present state the affairs. For the critical fifty years, manage of the island has swung between the two dominant parties that represent competing philosophies top top the future that the island: the brand-new Progressive Party (NPP), which proponents for full U.S. Statehood, and also the Popular autonomous Party (PPD), which favors retaining the current republic status.

Now numerous smaller next are getting popularity with younger Puerto Ricans who have watched many bungled federal responses come disasters and aren’t have to interested in coming to be the 51st state. They’re touting alternate visions for the island the could bring greater autonomy and improve financial conditions, such as seeking complete independence from the U.S., or coming to be a sovereign country in “free association” through the U.S., favor its connection with the Marshall Islands.

“For the more recent generations, every one of their life what they have seen is Puerto Rico in an financial recession,” states Edil Sepúlveda Carl, a lawyer based in the Washington D.C. Area who engages through the federal federal government on issues of Puerto Rican self-determination.“ They have actually seen the really awful an answer from the federal federal government after Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria and the earthquakes…. We’ve had a feeling that there’s some sort of shift happening in Puerto Rico, especially with young world being more anti-statehood.”

While 52% that the island vote in donate of statehood on Nov. 3, turnout was relatively low, with only around 53% the eligible voters participating. The NPP, which invested millions to include the issue on the ballot ~ Attorney basic William Barr refuse to proper federal funds because that the plebiscite, heralded the outcome together a win for the statehood cause. However many see the referendum simply as a political tool for the party to obtain supporters come the polls, and question even if it is the outcomes reflect what most Puerto Ricans actually want to view happen.

“Irrespective of her positions ~ above statehood because that Puerto Rico, to say “A clear majority of Puerto Ricans support statehood” is factually inaccurate,’” tweeted Nuyorican researcher and also filmmaker Andrew J. Padilla job after the vote. “The island requirements to come together and also create a procedure and decision that can really garner a true consensus of the population,” he later on told

The election additionally delivered a slim win to the NPP, which has held the Governor’s seat since 2016. Critics have accused the party the mishandling federal emergency aid, and the party’s members have actually regularly faced corruption probes. Last year, numerous thousands of Puerto Ricans required to the highways to need the resignation the the scandal-plagued NPP branch at the, Ricardo Rosselló, who eventually stepped down. This month, the NPP’s Pedro Pierluisi winner the gubernatorial race through 32.93% of the vote, the lowest support of any winning branch on the island, if the PPD candidate trailed with simply 17,000 under votes.

Pierlusi’s little margin of success is indicative that the farming support for parties external of the classic system, consisting of the Puerto Rican self-reliance Party (PIP), and the freshly registered anti-colonial Citizen’s Victory movement (CVM) and anti-corruption task Dignity parties. An ext voters come out because that the 3 together 보다 for the NPP and PPD, accountancy for practically 35% the the vote.

The new direction of the voter from these parties were also able come historically obtain six seats in the House and Senate of the legislative branch Assembly of Puerto Rico. Currently the PPD, i beg your pardon comprises the majority of the legislature, will certainly likely need to work in tandem through some minority representatives relocating forward.

Those who saw the polls ready to speak goodbye to the NPP are disappointed through the outcome. In the eleven days because the party winner re-election, an NPP lawmaker has already been arrested by FBI public representative on corruption charges. Thousands of uncounted votes from assorted precincts were found days after ~ the election, according to the brand-new York znjke.coms, v some alleging the judgment party is involved. An NPP representative on their election board of directors has because denied this claims, asserting the the party is prioritizing a same election, the NYT reports.

Figueroa-Miranda the La Clara likewise blames the NPP for that and other election irregularities. Like various other young Puerto Ricans, the 27-year-old has grown wary that the territory’s politics system and isn’t confident in the main results. “I’m scared that the numbers don’t stand for what in reality happened below on Nov. 3,” she says.

As Puerto Ricans combat the island’s excessive financial troubles, with millions walking without power or to run water for months, countless have make the efforts relocating come the mainland U.S. The island’s population has to be steadily decreasing for the last decade, and hit a new low ~ Hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2018.

For Sepúlveda, the lawyer in Washington, relocating to the U.S. After ~ going to law school top top the island no only offered a much better future, but the possibility to advocate for Puerto Rico in America. In 2017, in the wake up of Hurricane Maria, Sepúlveda co-founded Boricuas Unidos en la Diáspora, a network of Puerto Rican specialists that have actually been lobbying conference to implement a severe self determination and also decolonization process.

Puerto Rico’s status has been a debated topic in Washington for several administrations. In 2016, Congress and former chairman Barack Obama pass a bill recognized as PROMESA, a plan collection to handle the island’s looming debt dilemm through a financial committee that oversees the island’s budget, referenced colloquially in Puerto Rico together “la junta.” plenty of on the island have actually been an important of the oversight, speak it falls short to resolve the unjust problems of their day-to-day life.

During Trump’s term, he dubbed the U.S. Territory “one that the many corrupt areas on Earth” and also made it clean statehood for Puerto Rico would certainly be one “absolute no” for him if the existing mayor of mountain Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, stays in office. He and also Cruz began feuding after she was an important of his handling of Hurricane Maria, consisting of his infamous tossing of file towels into a group of hurricane survivors in 2017.

Last month, former interim branch Wanda Vázquez that the NPP endorsed Trump for re-election, a decision that can have potentially assisted the incumbent get momentum through the Latino vote in Florida, where much more than one million Puerto Ricans live. Currently as President-elect Joe Biden takes office, he has signaled he’d be supporting statehood because that Puerto Rico and has propose a substantial recovery arrangement for his management to attend to the island’s issues.

Sepúlveda’s group backed the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act that Rep. Nydia Velázquez and also Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proposed in August, which would begin negotiations between Congress and also a body of representatives chosen by Puerto Ricans to concerned a decision around the future of the island’s status.

The bill, which was not endorsed by the pro-statehood NPP, continues to be in limbo together the Committee on organic Resources has yet to happen it come the house floor. Though they did no publicly say why castle didn’t ago the bill, Sepúlveda and also others imply it may be because they desire to remain in regulate of the statehood process.

Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist and also Rep. Darren Soto that Florida, a state with a rising populace of Puerto Ricans, have actually said they will introduce much more bipartisan resolutions come the floor in assistance of the Nov. 3 referendum’s result. Yet with no clear sign that Congress will certainly be weighing in on the many issues that Puerto Ricans challenge soon, numerous feel prefer the future of the island is in their own hands.

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“You can not wait for a federal government to assist you,” states Sepúlveda, adding, “Solo el pueblo salva al pueblo.” only the people save the people.