SAN JUAN - Puerto Rico's governor-elect, a staunch supporter of statehood for the U.S. commonwealth, said Wednesday that Donald Trump's victory was unexpected but that he trusted the U.S. president-elect would support a potential change in status for the island.
Ricardo Rossello, of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party, or NPP, won Tuesday's balloting on the island with 41.76 percent of the vote, according to preliminary figures from the Puerto Rico State Commission on Elections.
In interviews with several local media outlets, the 37-year-old politician recalled that he had supported the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, but that he was willing to work with the Republican.
Puerto Rico came under Washington's sway in 1898 and island's residents were granted U.S. citizenship in 1917, yet they cannot vote in presidential elections, though Puerto Ricans living in the continental United States can.
Since 1952, the island has been a self-governing, unincorporated territory of the United States with broad internal autonomy, but without the right to conduct its own foreign policy.
"The Republican platform is very clear in terms of the status of Puerto Rico," Rossello said, noting that it supports the right of the U.S. citizens of the island to be admitted as the 51st state if they make that decision.
"Having a Republican House (of Representatives), a Republican Senate and a Republican president, there's no excuse for not carrying out" that party's platform with respect to Puerto Rico, he said.
Then-candidate Trump said in March that he was firmly committed to the process whereby Puerto Ricans might resolve their status and would do his part to ensure the will of the island's people is respected, including if they opt for statehood.