The Popular Democratic Party leadership was challenged by a group that supports a sovereign free association and openly endorses the proposed plebiscite for 2012.In public hearings held Thursday at the Capitol, the Sovereign Free Association Alliance (ALAS for its Spanish acronym) presented its position with regards to S. 2303, a bill before the Senate Special Committee on the Right of Self-determination for the People of Puerto Rico.In the plebiscite project proposed by the New Progressive Party and supported by the Puerto Rico Independence Party, ALAS representatives implied that recent PDP leaders have been agents of inert politics when it comes to approaching the political status issue between Puerto Rico and the U.S.ALAS members expressed their availability to run the campaign for the “Sovereign Commonwealth” decolonizing option in case the plebiscite reaches a second round voting event.The non-partisan group praised the opportunity the proposed plebiscite brings to Puerto Ricans to decide about the future of the island’s political relationship with the U.S. and to start a process of decolonization that is not based on the current territorial clause.According to ALAS President Luis Delgado Rodríguez, the organization “expresses its most sincere and total conviction that, even if the plebiscite project presented in S. 2303 is not a perfect project, it leads to the construction of a mechanism of convergence that complies with the three requirements.”For ALAS, the three requirements that must be fulfilled in order to have a legitimate process of decolonization are: a guarantee that the proposed mechanism truly provides a solution to the centennial political status dilemma; that such process is characterized by democratic principles; and that all options presented to voters are non-territorial and consistent with international law.The plebiscite project proposal is part of the agenda for the current legislative session at the Capitol. While the Senate version of the project is declared in S. 2303, the House of Representatives piece is being discussed under H.R. 3648.The plebiscite project consists of two rounds. The first electoral consultation is planned to be held on August 12, 2012 and will ask voters whether or not they want to continue with the current territorial version of the Commonwealth. The only two possible answers for this first question would be “yes” or “no.” If the “no” option wins the first round, a second part of the plebiscite will be held during the same day as the general elections on November 6, 2012. That second round will give voters the opportunity to choose between three decolonizing options: statehood, independence and a sovereign commonwealth as it was defined by the PDP official platform presented for the 2008 general elections.“We see this plebiscite as a first step in the path for the solution of our centennial political status issue,” read the ALAS statement presented at the public hearing.The political action group was also emphatic in declaring that if no party or organization decides to support the Sovereign Commonwealth option after the legislative bill is signed by Gov. Luis Fortuño, “ALAS will take over the defense and representation” of that decolonizing alternative.A friendly confrontation about the best way to define the island’s political relationship with the U.S. happened between two PDP members who were part of the public hearing. Parliamentary minority Sen. Antonio Fas Alzamora expressed his concern about the possibility of hurting the feelings of some PDP colleagues if the word colonialism is included in the language that makes reference to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. ALAS member and former PDP Sen. José Ortiz Daliot responded by arguing he would not be hurt if the word “colonialism” is included in the language of the plebiscite.“I am a PDP follower and I don’t mind that people identify the Commonwealth as a colony,” said Ortiz Daliot during the questions session at the public hearing. “We need to call things by its name.”Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz, who led the public hearing, also addressed ALAS members and asked them if a free association agreement between Puerto Rico and the U.S. would require the island to first become independent in order to have the standing to negotiate that type of bilateral compact with the metropolis.“There are no middle points between being free and not being free and between being equal and not being equal,” declared Rivera Schatz in reference to the alleged need to have gained independence before starting a free association negotiation with another country.ALAS members disagreed with the Senate’s President interpretation and refuted his comments by making reference to other international examples of countries entering into free association compacts based on the United Nations standards.“These (other) countries did not have to become independent before entering into free association agreements,” said ALAS member and former University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras Chancellor Juan R. Fernández. “It is a big mistake to ignore how those (free association) processes really happened; achieving independence was never mentioned before these territories started to negotiate.”“Free Association is not the same as an Associated Republic,” added Fernández.
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Puerto Rico’s Pro-Sovereignty Group Challenges Pro-Commonwealth (and Status Quo) Party at Island’s Pebiscite Hearings
December 9, 2011 by Julito Varela
This just in from The Puerto Rico Daily Sun. In essence, there is another voice on the island that is seriously beginning to questioning the politics of the established pro-Commonwealth Party, the Popular Democratic Party (PPD). For those uninitiated in the political world of Puerto Rico, this is a major move to FINALLY get to a real solution to the island’s 113-year-old colonial relationship with the United States. We applaud ALAS for taking this bold step and moving forward. The time for typical politics and how things have been done on the island are over. If the PPD is serious about the future of Puerto Rico, it would get on board with the other political parties (the pro-statehood PNP and pro-independence PIP) and use its energy to make this current plebiscite the LAST ONE the island will ever have to hold.
Here is the full article from the PR SUN: