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Posted in Puerto Rico, tagged Luis Fortuño, Mississippi, Puerto Rican, Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico plebiscite, Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, Senate, statehood Puerto Rico, Texas, United States on December 31, 2011 | 36 Comments »
As part of an ongoing series for 2012, the year of yet another Puerto Rican status plebiscite, JulioRVarela.com will periodically be posting columns by influential Puerto Rican political bloggers. We are honored to kick off our series with the first of three columns by Gil C. Schmidt. (NOTE: This three-part column was originally intended for a piece I wrote when I was contributing to Being Latino magazine earlier this year, and Schimidt’s response was never published by BL, so we are following up on an invitation we extended to Gil to have it published here).
For statehood, the procedure says that 38 States have to approve. It’s easier to find 38 States to vote against Puerto Rico. First off, none of the 9 Southern states (Louisiana to Kentucky/North Carolina) would approve. If you have to ask why, you’ve obviously never lived in those States.
Large Western states, like Montana, Idaho and Wyoming are famous for having a strong sense of freedom, “America First” sentiment and an array of militia radicals. They’ll vote NO with nary a split-second’s thought. That makes 12, so Puerto Rican statehood is finished.
But to make the point clearer, take your pick of almost-certain “No” votes: New England states that are as ultra-conservative as the winter is long or some of the other 21 States that would see their comparatively small representation overwhelmed by Puerto Rico’s in the House of Representatives, where the number of votes is based on population, not State seniority.
Furthermore, unlike the Senate, which could rise to 102 Senators, Puerto Rico’s five “representatives” would be taken from high-population states, namely California, New York, Florida, Texas, Illinois or Pennsylvania. These states have high Hispanic minorities, but would these states allow one of their “voices in government” to be given to a fledgling state with a comparative poverty level that makes Mississippi look like Monaco?
And let’s not ignore the question of race. It matters. It matters a lot. Maybe 50 years from now, when the majority of the population of the U.S. is non-white, maybe it won’t matter as much. Or then again, it will, as the difference between “Them that have” and “Them that don’t” could very well make the race issue seem trivial by comparison. But for now, it’s a deal-breaker, whether it’s carried out openly (“English only”) or quietly.
Bio: I lived almost 20 years in the U.S., spanning states from Nebraska to Texas to Mississippi. My appearance and name are those of a White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant, the proverbial W.A.S.P. But I was born in Puerto Rico, a fourth-generation Puerto Rican and have lived on the island continuously since 1987. You can find more of my writings about Puerto Rico at Gil The Jenius: http://gilthejenius.blogspot.com
Posted in Puerto Rico, tagged Antonio Fas Alzamora, Election Day, Luis Fortuño, New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico, Senate, Thomas Rivera Schatz, United States on December 23, 2011 | Leave a Comment »
Looks like 2012 is shaping to be the MOTHER of POLITIQUERÍA (loosely translated: political shenanigans) on the island colony of Puerto Rico, as politicians begin to hedge their bets and in some cases, employ a classic cover your culo mentality. Today, Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz, a member of the island’s pro-statehood New Progressive Party (PNP), has backed off from pushing a different election date for the island’s plebiscite status vote and has washed his hands from claiming any accountability in ensuring the statehood party’s success in the vote.
According to Rivera Schatz, that responsibility will now rest 100% on the leader of the PNP, Puerto Rico’s Republican Governor Luis Fortuño. With a plebiscite vote set to occur on the same day as Puerto Ricans choose for their next governor (Fortuño is the incumbent), the embattled and unpopular governor is taking a huge political gamble that will either produce a historic windfall or a dismal catastrophic miscalculation. But maybe this play by Fortuño, tying the plebiscite vote to the island’s general election in November, is all he has left, given that the majority of Puerto Ricans would agree the Fortuño administration has done very little to solve the island’s economic crisis.
Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz has dropped his plan to amend plebiscite legislation to avoid holding a status vote on Election Day next November, but said Gov. Luis Fortuño will be accountable for the results.
Rivera Schatz opposes having a status vote on Election Day, contending the general vote and the status plebiscite are too important to be held together. Other New Progressive Party leaders have said having the status vote on Election Day could make it the target of a “punishment vote” by voters disgruntled with Fortuño.
“The leader of the NPP is Luis Fortuño and he is assuming all of the responsibility,” Rivera Schatz said.
The status calls for the first part of a two-step plebiscite to be held on Aug. 12, 2012. If a second status vote is required, it will take place on the same day as the general election in November 2012.
The first referendum will ask voters whether they want to maintain the current commonwealth status under the territorial clause of the U.S. Constitution or whether they prefer a nonterritorial option.
If more voters check that nonterritorial option, a second vote would be held giving people three status options: statehood, independence or free association.
In the meantime, even though there is clear indication that the plebiscite status vote will indeed occur next year, there are still questions about what the final language of the vote will be. As the article continues:
A vote on the bill enabling the status plebiscite is slated to be held in the Senate on Tuesday, according to NPP officials. The legislation is not expected to see significant changes, but officials are considering removing any reference to the commonwealth as a colonial status from the bill. During a Senate hearing Monday, Popular Democratic Party Sen. Antonio Fas Alzamora, a former Senate president, opposed having the second of the two-tier vote on Election Day and called for the elimination of the word “colony” from the bill.
He suggested that the first vote should give voters the option of a territorial status that falls under the U.S. territorial clause or a permanent non-territorial status.
He then proposed his own definition of commonwealth status for the second vote. Fas Alzamora proposed a pact of association, which he said is different from free-association.
“Puerto Rico and the United States agree to replace the Federal Relations Law for an associated pact that is not subject to the territorial clause with permanent citizenship” in which the United States and Puerto Rico will decide “which powers will the United States keep and which powers will be delegated to Puerto Rico.”
Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi said the two votes should be held on Election Day. “Our people should be allowed to decide if they want the current status and express their status preference,” he said.
He insisted that the plebiscite has to be held no later than 2012. On the other hand, he also said the first of the two votes, which asks voters if they want to change the current political status, is the most important of the two votes because it could force Congress to act.
While he did not expect commonwealth supporters to abstain from the vote, doing so could cause Congress not to take the plebiscite results seriously. In that regard, he opposed the inclusion of the world “colony” in the legislation.