26 December 2011

Former Puerto Rico Governor gives views on new referendum

Pedro Rosselló advises pro-integrationist NPP leader 

on plebiscite 

Proposes a strategy of pressure to force the U.S. to support  territory's integration. 
By Rafael R. Díaz Torres
Puerto Rico Daily Sun 
The saga of political status plebiscites continues as the majority New Progressive Party plans on organizing a fourth chapter — with the hope of finally solving the perennial problem of the relationship between the island and the United States. An old actor and former governor, who led two of the first three of these electoral events, has some advice for Gov. (Luis) Fortuño and other NPP party colleagues who insist on the value of local plebiscites as important instruments for the solution the issue of status. 

For former Gov. Pedro Rosselló, learning from past plebiscites is necessary if the Puerto Rico government wants to succeed in its effort to request political change from the U.S. Congress. The first three plebiscites were held in 1967, 1993 and 1998.

“We have had three plebiscites and from them we can learn that it should not be the political party in power [to be] the entity in charge of defining the status options for the electoral event,” said Rosselló in press conference held Tuesday after the inauguration of the library-museum built in his honor at the University of Turabo campus in Gurabo. “It was a mistake because of the disconnect that can exist between what is on the paper and what is available.”

His comments made reference to the fact that any proposal to change the type of political relationship with the United States needs to have the consent of that country’s Congress. The U.S. legislative branch controls the island’s political sovereignty after Spain ceded Puerto Rico to the United States after the Spanish-American War in 1898.

“We need to search for areas where we can relegate the more immediate issues (on the island) and just focus on the important political status issue,” said the former governor.

Rosselló also argued that political parties should not be the only organizations leading campaigns during plebiscites. He proposed the creation of a “critical mass” capable of forcing action and bring the political change needed to solve the political status problem in Puerto Rico.

The NPP former leader, who governed the island from 1993 until 2000, said that plebiscites are not the only instruments available to solve the political status problem. He made reference to the Tennessee Plan as a possible path to petition statehood to the U.S. Congress. Such a move, which was used by Tennessee and Alaska to gain admission into the American union, is based on the idea of cornering the federal legislative branch by electing members to Congress and fulfilling other political responsibilities essential to states. 
According to that logic, Congress would eventually have no other option, except to admit the new member as a state.

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