The June 11 referendum could help the island overcome a decade-long economic crisis as it struggles to restructure nearly $70 billion in public debt.

People carry a large Puerto Rican flag as they protest looming austerity measures amid an economic crisis in San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 1, 2017.
People carry a large Puerto Rican flag as they protest looming austerity measures amid an economic crisis in San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 1, 2017.

Puerto Rico's newly-elected government is holding a referendum to push for US statehood.

The referendum will be held on June 11 and gives voters two options: statehood or independence/free association.

If a majority chooses the latter, a second referendum would be held in October and will ask voters to choose between becoming independent or to remain as the Free Associated State of Puerto Rico – in other words retain the current status as a territory of the United States.

Backers say the referendum could help the island overcome a decade-long economic crisis as it struggles to restructure nearly $70 billion in public debt and faces a federal control board pushing for more austerity measures.

If the US Congress approves Puerto Rico as the 51st state, the island could receive an additional $10 billion in federal funds a year and its government agencies and municipalities would be able to file for bankruptcy, something that both local and federal laws currently prohibit.

TRT World's Ediz Tiyansan has more from San Juan.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies