Monday, December 14, 1998 Published at 06:19 GMT
Puerto Rico rejects US statehood
Pro-statehood supporters dismissed the result
Voters in Puerto Rico have rejected a proposal to become the 51st state of America.
The governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Rossello, who backed full statehood, dismissed the outcome as a protest vote against his administration.
Campaigners for full statehood had said it would end decades of inequality. But opponents feared American mass culture would swallow up the island's identity.
The referendum attracted a high turnout with officials estimating about 75% of Puerto Rico's 2.2 million registered voters cast their ballot.
On the highways, people drove cars with US and Puerto Rican flags and campaign banners flapping from windows.
The vote comes a century after the US seized the island as a spoil of the Spanish-American war.
But they do not pay federal taxes or vote for president or Congress.
The island does have a delegate in the US House of Representatives, but he can only vote in committee.
This is the third time Puerto Ricans have voted on their status. At the last vote in 1993, 48% chose to retain their commonwealth status and 46% wanted full statehood.
The island's GNP is estimated at about $8,000 per capita - about a third that of the mainland US and half that of the poorest state.
The federal government spends about $10bn per year in aid and investment in Puerto Rico.