Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla sent a letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives asking them to withdraw their support for a bill for holding a statehood referendum on the island, the Web site Puerto Rico Report said.

The site released what it said was a copy of the governor's Nov. 18 missive to a U.S. legislator.

Garcia Padilla reached out to some of the 126 House members who co-sponsored the Puerto Rico Status Resolution Act, presented last May by Puerto Rico's non-voting delegate in Congress, Pedro Pierluisi, leader of the pro-statehood PNP party.

While insisting he supports the idea of a referendum on status, the governor cited Pierluisi's recent comments that support for the bill is equivalent to approving statehood for Puerto Rico.

Garcia Padilla and his PPD party advocate what they describe as enhanced commonwealth status for Puerto Rico.

Pierluisi, however, notes that 54 percent of Puerto Ricans supported a change in status in a non-binding referendum coinciding with the November 2012 gubernatorial election.

The ballot consisted of two questions.

Sixty-one percent of those who answered the second question favored statehood over the other two choices: enhanced commonwealth status or independence.

But more than 460,000 Puerto Ricans who voted on the first status question did not respond to the second question.

Garcia Padilla's letter to members of Congress shows that the governor is scorning the desire the Puerto Rican people expressed in November 2012, PNP lawmaker Antonio Soto said Wednesday. EFE

Last July 25 marked the 115th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American War.

Island 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 Free Associated State of the United States, an unincorporated territory with broad internal autonomy. EFE