We are committed to providing comprehensive coverage of Tuesday’s Puerto Rican Status Forum organized by the pro-statehood group, the Center for Puerto Rico Equality and Advancement (CPREA), which was held in the Rayburn Building of the United States House of Representatives.
Speakers included pro-statehooders Puerto Rican Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi and Puerto Rican Secretary of State Kenneth D. McClintock, two of the highest ranking government officials in the administration of Republican Governor Luis Fortuño.
Pierluisi, who is a non-voting member of Congress but is also Congress’ biggest spender, said the following:
The only way we can begin the [statehood] process is by obtaining more than 50% [support on the island.] We have to do a better job and stop making excuses.
We have included pictures of the event. Later today, we plan to have a FULL AUDIO RECORDING of the forum. In addition, we were also able to ask three questions during the Q & A session of the forum. The answers to these questions appear below.
Here were the three questions were asked:
Why aren’t the Puerto Rican Independence Party, a legitimate political party, and spokespeople for the new Free Associated State option not at this forum? Doesn’t this send a message that this forum is limited in its democratic scope?
This question was fielded by Mr. Andrés W. López, member of the DNC, He said “like any election, all people who are eligible to participate should participate. It is up to those who are concerned about the issue to attend these and other meetings dealing with the upcoming plebiscite.”
What is your position on the fact that the White House does not recommend Puerto Ricans born on the island but now living on the mainland cannot vote on the upcoming plebiscite?
This question was fielded by McClintock. He said that everyone in the White House Task Force on Puerto Rico Status agreed that this was the best way to keep non-islanders from controlling the fate of those living on the island. This was backed by Mr. Howard L. Hills, another panelist, who stated that it would be easy for outside political groups to muddy up the results.
Why will the second phase of the plebiscite be held in 2013? Why can’t it be held in 2012?
This question was fielded by McClintock. He said the decision not to hold the plebiscite in 2012 was to keep it clear of politics and political machines. He felt that if the plebiscite was held in 2012 it would confuse voters, because all the other candidates and referendums that would be introduced in 2012 [US presidential primaries and Puerto Rican gubernatorial elections]. He also said the timing of the plebiscite in 2013 would give a new Congress time to deal with issues that may come up during and after the plebiscite election.