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Posts Tagged ‘EL NUEVO DIA’


2011 was a momentous year for this blog. The biggest accomplishment was that it surprassed 100,000 unique visits and the total stats will reach over 130,000. Here are the 2011 top 10 posts of JRV.com:

10. TOP GEAR Host James May Reportedly Goes Nutty on a Plane: 1,183 reads

9. Latest El Nuevo Día Poll in Puerto Rico Concludes that Luis Fortuño Administration is a Disaster: 1,309 reads

8. TOP GEAR Now Offends Albania: 1,658 reads

7.  BREAKING NEWS: Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño Resigns, To Join FOX NEWS (APRIL FOOLS!!!): 1,702 reads

6. The 1917 Jones Act: Puerto Ricans as U.S. Citizens: 1,732 reads

5.  INTERNET HOAX ALERT: Senator John McCain Comments Questioning the US Citizenship of NBA Star JJ Barea: 1,877 reads

4. Top Gear” Video the BBC Doesn’t Want You to See: 2.658 reads

3. Fernando Varela Performs a Bilingual Version of Coldplay’s YELLOW Live in Concert: 3,377 reads

2. TOP GEAR Host Jeremy Clarkson Statement on Mexican Controversy: 4,110 reads

1. Why Puerto Rico Will Never Become the 51st State: 4,169 views

To all of our readers, followers, critics, and commenters (BRUCE!!!), thank you!!!!! WISHING YOU ALL AN AMAZING 2012!!!

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If there was a news article of blog post that would match our thoughts on Puerto Rico 100%, it is the following one by Greg Acevedo, who contributed an essay called Somehow… Someday to the HuffPost Latino Voices section. Now if only more Americans understood this injustice and force the US Congress to act, or better yet, support the actions of Puerto Ricans to FINALLY determine their own political destiny. In the meantime, here’s hoping such well-written pieces like Acevedo’s start appearing on a regular basis.

Here is the post. We were going to just show segments and provide our own commentary, but the more we read, the more we agreed. So, here it is.

Fifty years ago, West Side Story jetted and sharked its way into the hearts of America. Half a century later, what does the average U.S. citizen know about Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans? I’m guessing much of it has to do with sandy beaches, Marc Anthony and J-Lo, the island’s success in Miss Universe competitions and international athletic events, and, of course, the star-crossed Maria and Tony.

But I’m betting that most Americans don’t know that Puerto Rico is, at best, a fledgling democracy — and that US. control over the island is the main reason why Puerto Rico hasn’t successfully developed a legitimate democracy. The first step on the road to democracy is self-determination, but Puerto Ricans living on the island have never had the chance to exercise that right. What’s more, the U.S. has had over a century to grant Puerto Rico that right, but it hasn’t.

As a Puerto Rican, I find it amusing when the U.S. tries to instruct other nations in the practice of democracy (See: Libya and Iraq). Before the U.S. instructs other nations on the practice of democracy, it must re-think its policy in Puerto Rico.

A bit of background: In 1897, after decades of struggle against colonial rule, Puerto Rico secured autonomy from Spain, but it was preempted from achieving full-fledged autonomy when the island became an official territory of the U.S. a year later. From the start of their relationship, the U.S. kept a colonial-like grip on the island’s governance. It took 50 years for the U.S. to grant islanders the right to elect its own governor. In 1951, the U.S. loosened its grip a bit, granting the island the right to craft its own constitution and to fashion a “new” status as a commonwealth. In terms of self-governance Puerto Rico had finally made it back to where it was in 1897, but it remains a U.S. territory, which seems like “colony lite” to me.

I can hear the voices of dissent: that Puerto Rico should be nothing but grateful, and has received numerous benefits from its arrangement with the U.S. Take U.S. citizenship. Since 1917, Puerto Ricans on the island have acquired US citizenship as a birthright. Certainly, the power of the U.S. passport and the freedom of movement it affords is no meager benefit.

In truth, Puerto Ricans are second-class citizens who have not been able to exercise the full spectrum of their voting rights. The contradictory nature of Puerto Rican citizenship is best illustrated in the grave responsibility of military service. Like stateside citizens, Puerto Ricans on the island are subject to military duty, yet they have no direct representation in Congress, which sanctions wars, and they cannot vote for the commander-in-chief.

Second-class citizenship mirrors the island’s showcase “sovereignty.” During the Cold War era, the U.S. strategically attempted to use Puerto Rico as a model in the practice of democracy and economic prosperity. But the island has never been able to pursue its own path in intergovernmental or economic relations with other countries without the approval (read: control) of the U.S. The dominant mantra in international politics today is that democracy and economic development go hand-in-hand. It’s a model that the U.S. promotes around the globe — yet it’s one that Puerto Rico has never had a chance to try out at home.

Puerto Rico’s smoke-and-mirrors “democracy” continues to wrestle with high rates of poverty and stagnant economic development. In a 2008 report by the World Bank gauging 215 nations in terms of economic growth, Puerto Rico had the dubious distinction of ranking 211th, in the same range as the Palestinian territories and Zimbabwe. Unemployment and poverty in Puerto Rico exceed levels in the 50 states. In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau pegged the island’s poverty rate at 45%; double that of Mississippi, which had the highest poverty of any state (22.4%).

Does the political status of Puerto Rico have anything to do with Puerto Rican poverty? As Richard Figueroa, a Republican-leaning attorney and former diplomat in the U.S. Department of State admitted in a November 12 opinion piece in El Nuevo Dia, “The ambiguous nature of the political relationship of Puerto Rico with the United States is part of the main root of the economic and social problems of the island.”

Both Congress and the White House have had ample time and opportunity to resolve the U.S.’s ambiguous political relationship with Puerto Rico. On December 23, 2000, President Bill Clinton established the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status. Its goal is to recommend options for Puerto Rico’s path to self-determination. Eleven years later the Task Force still exits and Puerto Rico’s status remains the same.

The Puerto Rico Democracy Act was introduced in Congress first in 2007 by Congressman José Serrano (D-New York), and again in 2009 by Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, the island’s non-voting member of Congress. The bill sought to “provide for a federally sanctioned self-determination process for the people of Puerto Rico.” It died in the Senate when the 111th Congress closed.

In a March, 2011 report released by his Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status, President Obama said that he is “firmly committed to the principle that the question of political status is a matter of self-determination for the people of Puerto Rico.”

The very last lyrics to the finale of West Side Story are “somehow…some day!” So, get on with it. When do we get to the final scene?

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Maybe the current GOP public relations lovefest for the Vice Presidential campaign of Puerto Rican Goveror Luis Fortuño should start subscribing to elnuevodia.com, the island’s largest newspaper, and hire Spanish-speaking readers. Their one-sided glowing reviews of the Fortuño administration might actually be more balanced.

Case in point, today’s news out of Puerto Rico includes a report that suggests that Puerto Rico is quickly spiraling into another Greece. Here is the link in Spanish, but for our English readers, we have provided our translation of the article:

Puerto Rico’s indebtedness of and the insolvency of its pension plans have become so large that there is no alternative but to restructure the debt with its bondholders.

That’s the conclusion of a detailed report prepared by the firm Wasmer, Schroeder & Company (WSC), in which the firm specializing in fixed income assets contends that the status of Puerto Rico is so bleak that the island is closer to the crisis in Greece, Spain, and Portugal than to the 50 states of the Union.

In financial terms, restructuring means that Puerto Rico would not pay the entire principal that it has borrowed, the interest it agreed to pay or a combination of both.

The firm, which manages about $ 4 billion in assets, circulated the report to several of its customers and financial advisers last month.

The President of the Government Development Bank (GDB), Juan Carlos Batlle, sharply disagreed sharply with the report.

Two Drops of Water

According to the firm, there are many similarities between Puerto Rico and Greece, Italy, and Spain, which the report describes as “weak European economies, among them: insolvent pension plans, high unemployment, and poor management in the collection of revenues into the treasury.

Of all the similarities, however, the debt level would be the most alarming indicator, according to the report.

WSC estimated that is one were to divided the central government debt by the population of the island, every Puerto Rican owes about $ 7,837. Meanwhile, the island’s per capita income would be at about $ 13.675. Percentage-wise speaking, this means a debt ratio of 57.3% to income.

If the calculation considers other $ 28 billion of debt issued by public corporations and municipalities, each Puerto Rico would owe about $ 17, 265 in debt.

As Indebted as Portugal

“(The figure) aligns more with Portugal, near to that of Spain, and well above the lowest per capita income in Puerto Rico,” said WSC.

The per capita debt of Portugal, as WSC states, is about $ 16,402. In Spain it is estimated to be $ 17,539.

However, this indicator in states like New Jersey would be about $ 3,669, in Hawaii it would be around $ 3,996 and in Connecticut, the debt per capita would be in the vicinity of $ 4,859. Percentage-wise speaking, the debt of these states in proportion to income per capita would be 7.2%, 9.6% and 8.8%, respectively.

The firm estimates would be higher if one considers that WSC did their numbers based on a total debt of around $ 64 billion

On November 20, El Nuevo Dia outlined that public debt was about $ 65.5 billion.

That figure, as a proportion of Gross National Product (GNP) could be equal or exceed the size of the local economy. This means that the debt of the Island in relation to GNP, could range between 92% and 100% or more, something that the research identifies as a serious economic burden for the development of any society.

Poor Reputation

“Despite having a conservative governor in fiscal terms, the history of Puerto Rico is tainted by cronyism and irresponsible fiscal decisions,” the firm said.

He added that unless the debt is reduced or the island’s economy grows faster than debt, Puerto Rico is aimed at a “critical moment” for its finances before the end of this decade. At this juncture, in light of fiscal conservatism “rampant” in the federal capital, it would be “unlikely” that the US Congress would help the island. So, if the situation does not improve “materially and fast,” the island would be in serious trouble and the U.S. municipal debt market may face “a significant credit hurdle,” said WSC. Puerto Rico’s debt has grown at a rate of 9% annually in recent times. Meanwhile, the Puerto Rican economy has shrunk almost 12% since the start of the recession.

The BGF Refutes Findings

“It is clear that we have to keep working,” Batlle said when asked about the report.

“In 2009, we indeed were on the path to being Greece,” admitted the banker. “But we have succeeded in keeping Puerto Rico from falling off the cliff,” Batlle said, referring to the period when the island lost access to capital markets by the growing fear of degradation.

Batlle preferred to emphasize that the report acknowledges the progress of the fiscal reforms that the Fortuño administration has implemented. In response to questions about the possibility of restructuring the island’s debt, Batlle said it will not be necessary if they continue to apply that fiscal discipline measures have already been implemented.

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Maybe Puerto Rican pro-statehood and Republican Governor Luis Fortuño is campaigning to win the upcoming elections in 2012, after spending three years battling spiraling unemployment (16.1% rate), student strikes that made international news headlines, the island’s worst homicide year on record, Department of Justice investigations, and new reports that the Western Hemisphere’s oldest colony is now a “narco-state.”

Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño

Next November, the incumbent governor and his PNP (New Progressive Party) slate will face a tough electoral fight against the island’s pro-Commonwealth party (PPD) as well as its Independence party (PIP). The latest El Nuevo Día poll from this past November has PPD candidate Alejandro García Padilla leading by 39%, with Fortuño at 33% and PIP candidate Juan Dalmau at 3%. A mock election held in November on the island and sponsored by the media outlets NotiUno, EL VOCERO, EduK Group and Noticentro had Fortuño declared the winner by a margin of 21,440 votes to García Padilla’s 7,051 votes and Dalmau’s 594 votes. This same mock election also asked people about whether the island’s Commonwealth relationship with the United States should continue, and 19,248 votes said no while 7,876 votes said yes. More than 2.8 million people in Puerto Rico are eligible to vote, so this mock election represented a .01% voter turnout. In recent actual elections on the island, voter turnout has historically been over 80% of the total eligible vote.

Nonetheless, Fortuño, who has been mentioned by some US GOP leaders as a viable 2012 Vice Presidential candidate (meaning that he would have to move to the US mainland to run) but has gone on record this month to say that his only commitment is to be and hopefully continue to be the island’s governor, appears to have toned down some of his more right-leaning rhetoric and has begun to appeal to the middle.

Case in point: Fortuño has publicly distanced himself from the controversial hate crime measure that the Puerto Rican House of Representatives was considering. Already passed by the Puerto Rican Senate, part of the measure would be “to exclude eliminate sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, ethnicity and religious beliefs from the hate crimes statute that was included in the penal code that lawmakers approved in 2004.”

Last week, in speaking with reporters in the first “open forum” press conference of his administration, Fortuño did not support this exclusion language. As he said, “I would leave the language as it was before.” In addition, even though the Puerto Rican Senate was also calling for all abortions to be illegal and criminal, Fortuño said that federal abortion law would supersede Puerto Rican law. So Roe v Wade would still be the measure that would determine the legality of abortions on the island.

It is clear that Fortuño’s more conservative base will be there for him, even though he might not promote everything his political allies are pushing for in the Legislature. Now the question remains: if Fortuño now begins to paint himself as a more moderate Republican, will the island believe him after three years of a an administration that has caused more harm than good? Or the rumors of a potential VP bid true?

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The following column by Oscar Pintado Rodríguez was published in Spanish in the April 12 edition of El Nuevo Día, Puerto Rico’s largest circulation newspaper. We have provided a translation into English. Pintado Rodríguez expresses the opinions of the island’s Alliance for Free Association (ALAS in Spanish) and how this non-political party will use the proposed upcoming status plebiscites to educate Puerto Rican voters about the option of free association, one of three options being recommended (independence and statehood are the other two) by the White House report.

The Alliance for Free Association (ALAS) announced that the upcoming consultations (referendums) are a good opportunity to educate people about the option of free association. We are a group of private citizens organized to educate others about this option of decolonization.That is why we do not have the weight that political parties carry in the electoral interests.

We believe that status must be keep out of the elections and the hands of political parties. Our participation is conditional and that the definition of free association is consistent with international law, the conditions of participation are equitable to the representatives of all the alternatives and that the definitions of the options are based on the reality of relations between Puerto Rico and the U.S..

This involves the inclusion of a provision of dual citizenship for Puerto Ricans. However, if the Popular Democratic Party (PPD) wants to defend this provision, I’m sure ALAS would not have qualms to disband and join the PDP.

However, since we are not a political party nor do we want to be, we can not be asked to think and act with electoral interests in mind. Consequently, our good friends from the Popular Party cannot pretend to grant ALAS responsibilities that show our allegiance to the PPD, or any other political party. The proposed referendum has to have options that are non-colonial and non-territorial. The colonial commonwealth will not be on the ballot. We have always claimed that we want to decolonize Puerto Rico. In fact, the Obama report recognizes the territorial nature of the current commonwealth.

However, trying to put it in as an option of decolonization is a clear violation of international law. If the definition of free association, as I said before, meets, according to ALAS, current standards of international law, we will represent, defend and spread our message to educate our people.

Puerto Ricans who believe in sovereignty should not miss this opportunity to place free association as a legitimate option for the future.

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As he faces what is turning into a very hotly contested and controversial re-election bid, Luis Fortuño, the incumbent Republican and pro-statehood Governor of Puerto Rico, now finds himself in a very difficult situation: trailing his challenger by 22 percentage points in a poll released Tuesday by EL NUEVO DÍA, the island’s largest newspaper.

The political spin, as you might imagine, has already begun.

First, the newspaper has a video of Fortuño, who is clearly flustered as he tries to answer questions about the poll and whether he will be the New Progressive Party’s (PNP) candidate to run against Popular Democratic Party (PPD) candidate Alejandro García Padilla.

“There’s a time and place (to inform the people’s decision about seeking re-validate in November 2012),” said Fortuño in the video. “There will be an announcement this year.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Fortuño said that “four years is not enough to straighten out Puerto Rico.”

This poll, along with one released on Monday that gave Fortuño overwhelmingly low approval ratings, comes at a very precarious time for the island, which is also facing another possible round of future plebiscites to permanently determine its political status and its relationship with the United States. Puerto Rico has been a colony of the United States since 1898, when American troops invaded the island during the Spanish-American War. After becoming a Commonwealth (or Associated Free State) in 1952, there is a desire by Fortuño and other pro-statehood leaders to finalize the island’s status.

Puerto Rican Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz

Puerto Rican Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz was quick to defend the latest poll numbers and remind voters that the real numbers are how the island feels about becoming the 51st state of the Union.

“The real numbers of the PNP are the statehood numbers,” Rivera Schatz said. “The survey is just a picture of just one moment, and I am confident that one the statehood force is united, it will no doubt defeat the Popular Party.”

Even though Fortuño received very low numbers, the newspaper reported that 43% of Puerto Ricans support statehood and 39% support the current Commonwealth structure.

“The strength of the PNP is not to any political figure,” Rivera Schatz said. “it lies in the ideological force of statehood.”

Still, Rivera Schatz said that all politicians should “have the ear to the ground”, pay attention to any dissatisfaction, and then make “adjustments.”Among the “adjustments” that, in his view, could make Fortuño administration, said “communicating the work of government.”

Fortuño: “I Came to Right the Ship”

“I said that things were bad and I came to right the ship and it would not matter if it had a political cost, and it does not bother me when I had to make the right decisions,” Fortuño said in a radio interview.

Fortuño insisted that the former governor, Aníbal Acevedo Vilá and Sila María Calderón, left the country in economic ruin, and in the past two years he has had to focus on “righting the ship.” He hoped that in these next two years people will realize that he has been able to cut their taxes with Tax Reform, to improve the health system and modernize schools, among other things.

“We had to right the ship to do what we came to do,” he said.

García Padilla Reacts

Alejandro García Padilla

Meanwhile, García Padilla believes he has such a large lead in the polls because “the country is tired of excuses and wants a leadership that will propose solutions.”

“We cannot merely redouble the effort,” the PPD candidate told EL NUEVO DÍA. “This is what we’re going to do: continue working on the street, stay focused, the country wants solutions. No more excuses, you want to fight crime, unemployment, lack of education.”

García Padilla declined to comment on the reactions of major PNP leaders, especially Secretary of the Interior Marcos Rodríguez Ema, ensuring that voters eventually be disappointed in them.

“Again, the country is tired of excuses government wants a new leadership to bring solutions in employment, education, health,” García Padilla said.

PNP Leaders Predicts a PNP Victory

PNP member and Yauco Mayor Abel Nazario predicted that Fortuño would still win the election 125,000 votes.

“It is very interesting. It means that we have to work hard,” Nazario said in a radio interview.

Nazario said that while Popular members will celebrating the poll numbers, PNP leaders believe privately that Fortuño will win the election with a 52% majority.

“(Fortuño) will not listen to the polls and he will keep working, because in the end always the one who decides is the people and we are a wise people” he said.

Ema Rodríguez, meanwhile, said that the people will soon realize that García Padilla “is a great disappointment.”

Said it is “unlikely” that 18% of respondents who are PNP members would vote for García Padilla.

“That will not happen again” Rodríguez Ema said.

Puerto Rican Speaker of the House Jennifer González

Puerto Rico’s Speaker of the House, Jenniffer González, said García Padilla is leading in the polls because it is at the peak of his candidacy announcement. (García announced his intentions to run for governor this past February.)

“From now on, people are going to have to listen to a person who has been silent,” It’s going to deflate like a balloon and a lie it is. ”

Resident Commissioner Pierluisi: “We Need to Roll Up Our Sleeves”

Puerto Rican Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, a non-voting member of the US Congress

The island’s Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, a non-voting member of the US Congress, said that “we must roll up our sleeves” and “improve the way we communicate the things that we have yet to do.”

“We must take this poll to help us with motivation,” said Pierluisi. “The Governor has the support of the party. My impression is that he wants to go for re-election.”

When appropriate, Pierluisi said he is “totally focused” on being a candidate for re-election to the post of Resident Commissioner.

He avoided further comment on the fact that Rivera Schatz, appears as the second PNP politician with more support to run for governor.

Rivera Schatz polled at 44% for possible PNP candidates, compared to 49% for Fortuño and 41% for Pierluisi.

“I announced that I aspire for re-election as Resident Commissioner,” Pierluisi said, “I should not be included in a poll for governor.”

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EL NUEVO DÍA, Puerto Rico’s largest and most widely-read newspaper, released a poll today that concludes that the current administration of Republican pro-statehood Governor Luis Fortuño is being seen as the worst in the island’s history.

The most telling statistic is 31% of voters in Fortuño’s own party, the pro-statehood New Progressive Party (PNP), says that Fortuño’s performance has been “worse” since he was took office in January, 2009. 50% of PNP voters say that Fortuño’s leadership is within expectations.

Governor Luis Fortuño

Facing a possible reelection bid, Fortuño has a tough battle ahead, since 69% of all the island’s unaffiliated voters (the key “swing vote”) say that Fortuño’s performance is worse than expected.

58% of all voters gave the Governor a grade of D or F. 30% of PNP party members gave him a D or an F. The overwhelming majority of 65% of unaffiliated voters awarded Fortuño a D or F. Only 10% of this group rated Fortuño with an A or a B.

When compared to former Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá in May 2007 when it comes to grades of D and F, Fortuño look worse, 58% versus Vila’s 48%.

Secretary of the Interior Supports Fortuño, Blames Previous Governors for “Tsunami”

“There is tremendous frustration. That is what happens when an eight-year that means when a tsunami occurs,” said Puerto Rican Secretary of the Interior Marcos Rodríguez Ema in a radio interview, when asked about the survey results.

Ema Rodríguez also said the Government’s recovery signs are starting to show “little by little,” but people are still pessimistic about the results.

Puerto Rico's Secretary of the Interior Marcos Rodríguez Ema

“People in Puerto Rico traditionally has always been very pessimistic about the future of our island,” said Rodríguez Ema, who accused former Govenors Sila Calderón and Vilá for creating this perception. Both Calderón and Vilá are members of the island’s Popular Democratic Party (PPD)

“If they the [PPD] stayed in power, the government would have been a total failure,” said the owner, noting that the economy and health care have improved with changes made by the Fortuño administration.

Ema Rodríguez also indicated that there is still a year and a half for people to see the changes made by Fortuño.

“It’s better have people in government who know what they are doing than to be governed by people who sank us into tsunami of terror,” he said.

PPD Leader Says Fortuño Government Has Collapsed

Meanwhile, the president of the Partido Popular Democratico (PPD), Héctor Ferrer, told the NotiUno radio station that Fortuño’s government collapsed long ago and people are very clear about it.

“Note that the percentage of those who do not want to share their opinions does not exceed 2%. In other words, people are clear that the government has collapsed,” said Ferrer, referring to the people who abstained when asked what grade they would give Fortuño.

Héctor Ferrer, President of the PPD

“The government collapsed and collapsed in each and one of the issues important to the country. It is a government bus going in reverse,” said Ferrer.

Former Senator Miriam Ramírez de Ferrer of the PNP gave the Fortuño government a C minus.

Former PNP Senator Miriam Ramírez de Ferrer (left)

“The government still cannot deliver, even with all the money it is spending, all the money being spent on advertising and public relations, with all those millions is degrading and that money could have solved many problems in Puerto Rico. I think this figure has already reached a billion dollars with everything. and that the people of Puerto Rico do not realize or feel that things are better, ” Ramírez de Ferrer said in a radio interview.

He added, “I can not agree with someone who thinks that things are good and getting better in Puerto Rico.”

PPD Leadership Says Fortuño is the Worst Governor in Puerto Rican History

In a press release written in Spanish, the PPD leadership said the following: “Luis Fortuño is not a viable candidate (for the elections of 2012) and the remainder of the leadership of the New Progressive Party (PNP) will suffer the consequences of involvement in the thousands of layoffs under the law.”

“Fortuño has become the worst governor in history,” the press release reads.

Regarding the spending of funds for the island’s latest status plebiscite, the group called it “immoral” because thousands of parents and families are without a livelihood on the streets. The funds to support the operational costs and publicity of the plebiscite should be redirected to reinstate the unemployed workers who have been laid off.

“The plebiscite does not obligate anyone and the second round is scheduled as a blackmail to reelect Fortuño, the same one who has fired us from our jobs,” the group concluded.

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