CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands -- A legislative committee may ask citizens of the U.S. Virgin Islands to vote on whether they favor statehood for their Caribbean island chain, according to a document released Saturday.
The Select Committee on Status and Federal Relations has for several months been debating the future political status of the U.S.-held, unincorporated territory, which elects a governor but does not have its own constitution.
A committee document, dated in June but not published until Saturday, said the committee's final report due next January would likely call for a referendum to be held in conjunction with the general election Nov. 4, 1986.
Voters would be asked to name their preference from among statehood, outright independence or continued status as a commonwealth or territory of the United States, the document said. The result would not be binding.
Washington has not said how it would respond to a plebiscite, the document said, but the Virgin Islands Legislature did not believe that should delay it from asking residents of the three islands what they want.
'We cannot accept the idea that self-determination means the people of the Virgin Islands must first inquire of all federal officials what they are willing to consider before the people of the Virgin Islands may determine what they want,' it said.