Puerto Rico to pick governor amid massive financial crisis
San Juan (AFP) - Voters in Puerto Rico elect a new governor on Tuesday amid a massive economic and financial crisis that has sent thousands packing for the mainland United States.
Almost two million voters in the US Caribbean commonwealth will choose a new leader after Puerto Ricans in their thousands streamed off the island besieged by crippling recession and $70 billion in debt -- its worst crisis in six decades.
Among the six gubernatorial candidates, the favorites are David Bernier of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), and Ricky Rossello, of the New Progressive Party (PNP), which favors full US statehood instead of the commonwealth status quo.
In addition, the 1.8 million voters will also pick lawmakers in the local legislature as well as mayors of 78 municipalities on an island of 3.5 million.
The former Spanish colony has been a US commonwealth since 1952. People born on the island are US citizens but cannot cast their ballots for the next American president.
Rosello is leading Bernier 40 percent to 28.9 percent, a Precision Research poll for Univision found.
In August, President Barack Obama named a powerful new oversight board for Puerto Rico.
The White House said the seven members of the Financial Oversight and Management Board would be charged with helping San Juan restructure its $70 billion in debts.
Having already defaulted on more than $2 billion in debt payments, Puerto Rico is blocked by US law from seeking protection in bankruptcy courts as has been the practice for cities like Detroit.