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Posts Tagged ‘Antonio Fas Alzamora’


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.

Here is what Caribbean Business reported today: 

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.

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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:
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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