US presidential hopeful Marco Rubio to visit Puerto Rico

US presidential hopeful Marco Rubio to visit Puerto Rico

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio is scheduled to visit the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico this week, his staff said Tuesday.

Spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas told The Associated Press that the Florida senator will meet with supporters on Friday in the capital of San Juan.

Rubio's one-day visit will coincide with that of Democrat Hillary Clinton. He is scheduled to attend a fundraiser before the rally.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley visited Puerto Rico last month, becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate to make a campaign stop on the island this year. GOP presidential hopeful Jeb Bush arrived in late April for a fundraiser and a town hall meeting in which he endorsed the idea of statehood for the territory.

Puerto Rico residents cannot vote in U.S. presidential elections but can participate in primaries. A growing number of Puerto Ricans have moved to the U.S. mainland as the island faces a 12 percent unemployment rate and struggles to emerge from a nine-year economic slump, with the governor stating that a $72 billion public debt is unpayable and needs restructuring.

Clinton, like O'Malley and Bush, has said she supports allowing Puerto Rico access to Chapter 9 bankruptcy. She also has noted that Puerto Rico does not receive equal treatment when it comes to federal funding for Medicaid and Medicare.

Almost 1 million Puerto Ricans live in Florida, with about 400,000 living in Central Florida, according to the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at City University of New York. The center also estimates Florida will soon rival New York as the state with the most Puerto Ricans. As of 2013, about 5 million Puerto Ricans live stateside, almost 2 million more than the 3.5 million Puerto Ricans living on the island.


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