This weekend, Puerto Ricans made their way to the polls to vote on the possibility of the US territory officially becoming the 51st state.
While 97% of the votes were in favor of Puerto Rico becoming a state, the election was widely boycotted. With only 23% of the population participating, it was the lowest voter turnout of any Puerto Rican election since 1967, according to the Washington Post. While some protested it in the streets, others simply sat it out.
Still, Governor Ricardo A. Rosselló of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party plans to take the results to Congress to get a vote on letting the territory become a state, which experts say could be an uphill battle.
Below, see 15 photos that show how just how gorgeous Puerto Rico is.
Puerto Rico has earned the nickname “Island of Enchantment” thanks to its beautiful beaches and historic landmarks.
Since it’s located just 1,300 miles from the Florida coast, US citizens can travel to Puerto Rico without a passport or visa.
The coastline is 272 miles …
… and there are nearly 300 beaches.
Six of those are “Blue Flag” beaches, which means they have passed strict standards governing water quality and overall safety.
Source: USA Today
Activities like snorkeling and boating are available off the coast. Here, free diver Roberto Reyes plunges to 65 feet off the coast of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.
In the past few years, urban farming has become more popular as locals begin to prefer fresh produce.
In 2016, the Associated Press reported that the island was seeing “something of an agricultural renaissance.”
“It’s satisfying to change the perspective of an island that once viewed agriculture as a thing of the past, as something for people without education,” Puerto Rican Agriculture Secretary Myrna Comas told the AP in 2016.
Source: Associated Press
The last time the population voted on the possibility of statehood was in 2012. This year, the pro-statehood voter turnout was lower.
Source: Washington Post
The island has been dealing with an economic crisis. Just last month, it declared the biggest municipal bankruptcy in US history.
Those in favor of statehood are hoping it would help the island to have access to federal funds and the right to vote in presidential elections.
Puerto Rico currently has only one congressional representative called a Resident Commissioner, who has limited voting powers.
Governor Rosselló has stated that he will create a commission to take this year’s referendum results to Congress.
“I voted for statehood,” Armando Abreu, a 74-year-old retiree, told Reuters. “Even if it’s still a long way off in the distance, it’s our only hope.”