23 December 2011

Puerto Rico Senate President wants end to colonial condition

Senate President Rivera Schatz wants to shame feds

Cyber News and the Daily Sun staff 

(Puerto Rico) Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz affirmed Monday during the plebiscite project hearings that “we need to shame” the U.S. government for keeping a colonial condition in Puerto Rico, and in the meantime Popular Democratic Party Sen. Antonio “Tony” Fas Alzamora admitted that his party does not have an official position about the vote yet.
“I believe the people of Puerto Rico have to shame the U.S. government because there are 4 million American citizens who do not vote for the president and do not elect members to the U.S. Congress,” said Rivera Schatz.
“It is disrespectful, a relation of domination over the American citizens who live here, and I believe we need to claim the rights that assists us,” he said.
According to Rivera Schatz, who chairs the Special Commission on the right of self-determination of Puerto Rico — a group which has held three hearings about the plebiscitary project — “we need to intensify the battle” and urge through great pressure toward the United States in order to force them to determine the international options that would resolve the territorial state of Puerto Rico.
Rivera Schatz also said that despite the importance of continuing to present the island’s case in international forums, the White House is the institution that should commit to solve the status problem because the U.S. government has the power to listen and “respect the electoral will of Puerto Ricans.”
“We are tired of waiting and of this political game that both Republicans and Democrats have been leading. The owners of the island of Puerto Rico are the (U.S.) Americans,” charged the senatorial leader.
Meanwhile, and in response to questions from Rivera Schatz, PDP Sen. Fas Alzamora — who presented in Monday’s hearing — admitted that his political party does not have an official position about the plebiscite.
“As far as I know, there is not one, because we have not discussed it in the (PDP) governing board and I believe there have been some public protests that, depending on what is approved, the PDP would take a decision, and I would embrace my position inside the board to convince them with what I believe, in consonance with what it is approved.”
“There has not been any discussion about status recently,” reiterated Fas Alzamora, who supports the free association for the country and even presented a compact of association to the PDP governing board.
(Puerto Rico Governor) Fortuño surprised by Rivera Schatz’s statements
Gov. Fortuño was surprised by the statements made on Monday by Rivera Schatz in regard to not supporting the holding of the plebiscite on the same day as the 2012 elections, even when he guaranteed that there exists an agreement about this issue. Fortuño reiterated that after a meeting with both legislative presidents, the resident commissioner and several mayors, a consensus was reached.
“During the weekend I reviewed with the presidents of the two Houses, with the resident commissioner and with a few mayors, the whole legislative agenda, not only [about status] but also about security and others as well. When we talked about that these, we discussed different possibilities and agreed that there have been good ideas that have came from the presentations and this afternoon (Monday), we will define the language, varying the language based on what different groups have presented in the hearings. In regards to the date, we have reached a consensus,” said the first executive.
In an informal encounter with the press, Rivera Schatz gave clues about the possible existence of an agreement to consolidate the votes. However, it seems that he does agree with it (the agreement).
In terms of the best possible way to approach the plebiscite, Rivera Schatz has expressed his disagreement with the idea of asking the electors two questions on the same day. According to the NPP leader, not dividing the votes into two days could provoke a contradiction if most people opt to support the territorial commonwealth in the first round of the vote, and then support a decolonizing option such as statehood in the second round. 
For the president of the Senate, those types of contradictions would not be acceptable because in order to demand action from the U.S. government, a strong and clear voice needs to be developed after the plebiscite.
“I hope I am wrong,” said Rivera Schatz in reference to the consolidation of both votes during the day of the elections.
“I don’t think elections should be mixed with a status vote because that approach is prone to the demagogy from political parties,” added the senatorial president, who questioned the effectiveness of the vote being held on the same day as the 2012 general elections.