Sunday, July 26, 1998 Published at 04:26 GMT 05:26 UK
Puerto Rico to get statehood vote
Celebrating the past - but what does the future hold?
The people of Puerto Rico are to vote in a referendum to decide whether or not the island should become the 51st State of America.
The Caribbean territory - population 3.6 million people - is a US Commonwealth nation with limited self-government but no say in Washington.
The referendum in December will decide whether Puerto Rico:
As the governor made his referendum announcement he unfurled a Stars and Stripes flag - with 51 stars.
He said: "If after 100 years, the US Senate does not possess the will to put an end to a century of colonialism, Puerto Rico does.
"I trust in God that, presented with this decisive opportunity, our people will issue a clarion call for the validation of our claim to freedom, equality, dignity."
The US Congress is considering a bill on Puerto Rican statehood, but the Senate has not yet voted.
Divisions over US heritage
A BBC correspondent says that will put the status of the referendum in doubt.
In Puerto Rico and the US, opinion is divided on what the island's future status should be.
Governor Rossello is pro-statehood and made the announcement at a rally attended by islanders wearing star-spangled tee-shirts and celebrating their US citizenship.
Supporters of the statehood option believe that it would provide the territory with economic opportunities.
They say Puerto Ricans have lived under "American oppression" for long enough.
Fernando Martin, vice president of the Puerto Rico Independence Party, said the Senate's stalling showed "tremendous opposition to statehood in the US".
In the US the majority of Republicans are opposed to a predominantly Spanish-speaking community becoming a fully-fledged American state.