Three days to go before we elect the next U.S. President (or the same one for another four years), and before Puerto Ricans take a vote of their own: a referendum to decide their political future. Puerto Ricans have been down this road before, but this time, the question will be put directly to them: Do they want island's present territorial status to remain? It's a way of making residents choose between statehood and independence, without giving them the option to cast their vote for the status quo. Not everyone is thrilled about this, by the way.
For the record, this referendum on its own does not change anything for Puerto Rico. A vote for statehood or independence does not automatically make it so.
And I can understand Puerto Ricans' indecision. There are clear benefits and drawbacks for each option. Statehood has immediate benefits, but would it compromise some of the things that make Puerto Rico such a unique place? Independence would be a new chapter for a people who have endured foreign rule for over 500 years (although the island was independent for a historical blink of an eye in 1897), but how would Puerto Rico fare economically? As for remaining a commonwealth, many feel that's not a viable permanent solution, and that it's about time Puerto Ricans decide their fate.
Me? I choose to look at it from purely a tourism point of view, and look at what would happen to U.S. travel and tourism if Puerto Rico was a state.