"This represents an overwhelming majority against statehood," he said.
The results are also murky because everyone could vote in the second round no matter how they marked the first question — and the choice of "sovereign free association" is not the same as the current status. So people could have voted for both no change in the first round and any of the choices in the second. Nearly 65,000 left the first question blank.
"With that kind of message, Congress is not going to do anything, and neither is President Obama," Rivera said.
Puerto Rico has been a territory for 114 years and its people have been U.S. citizens since 1917. Residents of the island cannot vote in the U.S. presidential election, have no representation in the Senate and only limited representation in the House of Representatives.
It's a situation that frustrates many, as does the long-simmering political uncertainty. Independence was once the dominant political movement on the island but no longer: Only 6 percent of voters opted to sever ties from the U.S., a prospect that scared voters like 31-year-old Jose Ramos.
"I prefer that the United States helps us, because to stand on our own two feet, no," said the father of three. "I don't want this to become a republic. That scares me."
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