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Puerto Rico votes to become a US state in nonbinding plebiscite

The U.S. island territory of Puerto Rico voted overwhelmingly in favor of becoming the 51st state of the U.S. June 11 in an officially backed nonbinding plebiscite which opposition parties called meaningless.

More than 97% of votes were cast in favor of statehood, according to data from the State Electoral Commission, but turnout was only 23% of 2.2 million eligible voters. Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said U.S. authorities would have to heed the will of the Puerto Rican people, but observers say the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress is unlikely to consider making the territory a state.

Puerto Rico does not receive the same federal funding as states do, and it moved to restructure $70 billion in debt in May. It has been dubbed the world's oldest colony, after 400 years of Spanish control were succeeded by U.S. rule after the Spanish-American war of 1898.