Following a ceremony honoring Puerto Rico’s Borinqueneers earlier this week, Sen. Marco Rubio stated his support for a two-option ballot to guide Puerto Rico’s next plebiscite. Answering a question from a reporter about his position on Puerto Rico statehood, Sen. Rubio first emphasized the importance of deferring to the people of Puerto Rico regarding the islands’ status and then turned to talk about his position on the best format for the next plebiscite ballot.
“Ultimately, the people of Puerto Rico will have to decide” the territory’s status, explained Rubio, but, he added, any upcoming referendum should include “a ballot question that allows them two choices – not three – but two very clear choices” given the disputes that followed the 2012 vote.
(Click here to see the interview.)
In raising the two-option ballot idea, Rubio highlighted an idea that has gained increasing support in the U.S. Congress. Puerto Rican Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi has introduced legislation calling for a vote in Puerto Rico in which the electorate would be asked to vote “Yes” or “No”on statehood. In the Senate, Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) has introduced an identical bill. The legislation has the support of the nation’s largest Latino organization, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).
Rubio’s remarks do not represent the first time that the Senator has expressed an interest in Puerto Rico. In a 2011 hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Peace Corps, and Global Narcotics Affairs, Senator Rubio questioned a witness about the U.S. response to the growing epidemic of drug trafficking and narcotics in the Caribbean. Focusing on Puerto Rico, Rubio stated: “This is a domestic obligation of ours. This is not another country. This is under our jurisdiction, and these are American citizens. And so what is our plan there? How are we working that? How is that developing? Are we looking at some new things that we can do?” (See video here at the one hour 30 seconds mark)