Puerto Ricans are voting on becoming the 51st US state on Sunday, June 11. The vote comes at a time of economic hardship for Puerto Rico, which suffers from a 45 percent poverty rate, and has been promoted as a way to help solve the island's debt crisis.The referendum is Puerto Rico's fifth since 1967, and gives Puerto Ricans the option to vote for free association/independence. The vote has been criticized as a waste of money by political opposition parties.
Demonstrations over the territory's poor economic conditions are possible in the coming weeks.
Puerto Rico is reeling under more than USD 73 billion of debt, which has forced the US government to intervene; a group of experts were appointed by the US to restructure the island's debt. The rescue plan incited criticism from the political establishment and civil society due to budget cuts on public services such as schools, universities, hospitals, and Zika virus containment efforts.
Approximately 62 percent of the population voted for statehood in the last referendum in 2012, however the Puerto Rican government stated that the vote was invalid due to a number of blank ballots
Individuals in Puerto Rico are advised to avoid all demonstrations as a precaution and to keep abreast of the situation.