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Archive for October, 2011


The pro-statehood party of Puerto Rico, the New Progressive Party (PNP), seems to be operating from a position of convenience. When it demands the fact that Puerto Rico should become the 51st state of the Union, it rallies behind American flags and the US Constitution. But when it disagrees with US law in order to please their own conservative and predominantly Catholic base, in the end the PNP will do whatever it wants, even to the point of rejecting federal laws that they will so quickly defend.

The latest version of this Puerto Rican paradox is the issue of abortion. Last week, the Puerto Rican Senate approved a penal code that would prohibit abortions on the island. Yes, you read that right. If a woman in Puerto Rico has an abortion that does not harm her health or life, she should go to jail.

Here is the report from The Catholic News Agency:

San Juan, Puerto Rico, Oct 26, 2011 / 06:10 pm (CNA).- The Puerto Rico Senate passed a new penal code on Oct. 24 that keeps in place the territory’s prohibition against abortion.

The code will now be sent to the House of Representatives for debate.

Article 99 of the penal code stipulates that “any woman who procures and consumes any medicine, drug or substance, or who undergoes any operation, surgery or any other procedure for the purpose of causing an abortion, except in order to save her health or her life, shall be punished with a fixed prison sentence of two years.”

Abortion supporters argue the new code would be unconstitutional because it would violate the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade (1973) and the Puerto Rico Supreme Court’s ruling in Pueblo v. Duarte (1980), which legalized abortion.

If passed by the House, the code would be sent to Governor Luis Fortuño to be signed into law.

Governor Fortuño is a Republican as well as the leader of the PNP, and the latest news from the Puerto Rican Senate confirms that the PNP is practicing a conservative right-wing legislative experiment that flies in the face of a federal ruling that is now over 40 years old. It is clear that if Puerto Rico falls under federal jurisdiction (which, technically, it does, although this latest move by the PNP leadership reeks of political convenience and hypocrisy), this proposed abortion law would be deemed unconstitutional under the federal umbrella.
So, the PNP: praise America and all its institutions and its Constitution when it is convenient for it to do so, but when it is not, just pass your own laws that goes against the US Constitution. Which one is it, PNP?

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As a reporter, I place great emphasis on facts and accuracy, so when I make a mistake on my blog, I tried to quickly correct it. It has happened to me just one or two times since I started this blog in 2009, and this weekend was just one of those times.

The story had to do with the fact that I was doing research on Rafael Cox Alomar, the PPD’s (Popular Party) candidate for Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico. I had erroneously reported that Cox Alomar was a staffer for the congressional office of former Resident Commissioner Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, as I tried to prove the fact that the Cox Alomar had indeed had some form of congressional experience in Washington DC and that he was free of “political ideology,” as was stated by the person who nominated him, PPD gubernatorial candidate Alejandro García Padilla. A reader kindly informed me that Rafael Cox Alomar did not work for Acevedo Vilá, but it was his brother Pedro.

I apologize for this reporting error and have already updated the previous blog post to reflect this error. Just what a newspaper would do, but the fact does remain (and I have been consistent in my blog about this): the current political system of Puerto Rico is highly dependent to the United States government, and the PPD’s decision to still play “within the system” when the island is facing a historic economic crisis is faulty at best. Here’s hoping that Rafael Cox Alomar, if elected Resident Commissioner, does not become yet another Commissioner who comes to Washington to beg and ask permission like a lost child. Puerto Rico deserves action now, and it deserves better.

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The political games in Puerto Rico continue as PPD (Popular Party Resident Commissione Candidate Rafael Cox Alomar’s positions on the Puerto Rican status question are still finding partisan criticism by  other of the island’s major political parties. Yesterday, the Puerto Rican Independence Party’s candidate for Resident Commissioner, Juan Manuel Mercado, wrote that the selection of Cox Alomar by the PPD is an action that confirm the PPD’s belief in the political status quo (Puerto Rico has been a Commonwealth of the United States for over 50 years and has been a territory since 1898). As Mercado says:

“Cox Alomar’s positions picture him as yet another diplomat who pretends to go to Washington, and does not demand for the immediate decolonization of Puerto Ricom, but instead to perform public relations in a city that has no interest in fulfilling its obligation to decolonize Puerto Rico.

Mr. Cox wants to go to Washington to do the same thing that his PPD and PNP (pro-statehood) predecessors have done: to say they are sorry and to ask for permission, but above all, to pick up the crumbs from the floor that reflect the hypocrisy of an entire nation.

Although the PPD spin says that Cox Alomar is a new voice in the PPD because he has never held elective office, the message from PPD gubernatorial candidate Alejandro García Padilla and Cox Alomar’s own writings suggest that the PPD would rather maintain the current political system on the island than try to take bolder actions to change it.

UPDATE: We inaccurately reported that Cox Alomar was a congressional staffer for former Resident Commissione r Aníbal Acevedo Vilá. The information we listed was for Pedro Cox Alomar, Rafael’s brother, and not Rafael Cox Alomar.

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