The hall is a sea of pink and white. About 350 Puerto Ricans, mostly women, have come to hear their First Lady speak in what they hope will be the final push towards a new relationship between their island and the United States. When Beatriz Rosselló, the 32-year-old wife of the governor of Puerto Rico, finally appears at the rally outside the capital San Juan, the room erupts into a frenzy of flag-waving. The American Stars and Stripes with its 50 stars, and the Puerto Rican emblem, with its single one, intertwine amid the flurry, giving the illusion that they have fused: 51 stars in a single banner of red, white and blue. … Rosselló and her supporters of the governing Partido Nuevo Progresista (PNP) hope to take that spirit of unification to the polling stations on Sunday when Puerto Rico holds its fifth plebiscite on statehood in 50 years. The ambition is to deliver such a resounding cry from the island’s 3.4 million citizens that Washington will be forced to take Puerto Rico on board as the 51st state of the United States.
… All opposition parties in the country have vowed to boycott the Sunday poll, further threatening its credibility.
Rosselló dismisses the boycott as a ruse on the part of the opposition to disguise their own political weakness. He says $8m is small change if it addresses the much greater cost of being a colony.
“The current status is shameful,” he says. “It is shameful to be a colonial territory in the 21st century, and for the United States to own one. The nation that is the standard bearer of freedom and democracy should not be in this position – it’s hard to go to Cuba and Venezuela and voice your support for democracy when you’re not doing it at home.”