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Posts Tagged ‘Pedro Pierluisi’


Puerto Rican Resident Commissioner and America

To all the pro-statehood Puerto Ricans who dream about having 51 stars on the United States flag, we say the following: PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH. AND READ THE US CONSTITUTION WHILE YOU ARE IT.

In a bizarre game of political Facebook censorship, the official public Fan Page of Puerto Rican Pedro Pierluisi—a non-voting member of the US House of Representatives—admitted to us that they had indeed blocked us from their page and that they were sorry.

The censorship incident occurred on June 14 around the time that Pierluisi was flying into San Juan on Air Force One with President Barack Obama. Yes, when we went to Pierluisi’s official page to post about the US flag that was burned by a small group of Puerto Rico independence supporters, we quickly found out that we could not post os share any content on Pierluisi’s public page. YES, it was clear that our politics—which do not support statehood at all for Puerto Rico—were not welcome on the page, which has over 9,000 followers (on a side note, Commissioner Pierluisi is about 16,000 fans behind the amazing Fernando Varela, but that is another story for another day).

After 36 hours, and after calls to both Congressman Stephen Lynch (D-MA) and Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), we received a statement from Pierluisi’s office. You decide if this makes any sense:

Dear Mr. Varela,

I have been informed that you are concerned about your access to the Resident Commissioner’s congressional page on Facebook. I have been advised that you believe you were removed from the user list after you made a comment on the page.

The standards regarding participation on this page–no different than anywhere else on the social network–are clear and unambiguous. We respect the freedom of expression that this medium provides, while at the same seeking to ensure that posted comments are not disrespectful of the discussion and of other participants.

I am not aware of the substance of the comment that you posted. While we have an excellent relationship with our followers, naturally we do not always agree with the content of every message that is posted. Nevertheless, a simple examination of our page should give you confidence that posted messages remain viewable regardless of their content–again, so long as they adhere to the basic standards of respect and courtesy cited above. Differences in opinion are not merely permitted, they are welcomed.

If your comment met this standard, we apologize and in the next few hours will unblock you if you so desire. We benefit from your participation and hope you will continue to participate.

Thank you for writing.

Dennise Pérez

As you can imagine, this non-answer from Pierluisi’s staff did very little to answer our concerns. At no point could they actually pinpoint what I did (NOTHING) or what I said (NOTHING). So we called them. Here is the audio of the conversation:

Pierluisi call

In the meantime, we were unblocked from the page and began to post again on June 16. Granted, even though all Facebook Pages according to Facebook are “official public pages,” the paradoxical logic that is Puerto Rico appeared on the pages after we thanked Pierluisi’s staff for admitting its UNAMERICAN error, even though they have no clue who actually blocked us. (NOTE TO THE RESIDENT COMMISSIONER: Let’s talk about this.) Here is just one example of what we dealt with:

Um, Pedro, you are wrong there. Facebook Pages ARE PUBLIC. In fact, Facebook themselves calls them “public” and “official.” And then Pedro continued:

And one again, Pedro, YOU DON”T GET IT. The Resident Commissioner’s Facebook page is a PUBLIC PAGE. And Pierluisi is AN ELECTED OFFICIAL in the UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

Also, Pedro, Pierluisi’s own office admitted to their error! So we decided to let Pedro know a few things. Here are just some of the responses:

One final point about this and I will be quiet: the Resident Commissioner’s staff admitted to blocking me and they have apologized for this oversight. They regret making this error, which goes against the UNAMERICAN principles all pro-statehood proponents so cherish. Practice what you preach, Pedro. Welcome to the United States of America. It is what makes us great!

Totally disagree bro, I never said anything here that was disparaging. You are so off on this it is not even debatable. AMERICA= FREE EXPRESSION. For example, I find it sickening when the American Nazi Party marches in US towns, but guess what? They can. BTW, bro, Pierluisi’s OWN PEOPLE ADMITTED THAT THEY BLOCKED ME AND APOLOGIZED. Welcome to America, mano. Peace out.

To quote Facebook: Facebook pages are “official, public pages” also do your homework. All US CONGRESSMEN have pubic Facebook pages like the RESIDENT COMMISSIONER. When I talke with my own Rep and other Congressmen, they were appalled by Pierluisi’s actions here. Sorry, bro, you are in the minority on this one. Stay free. VIVA LA DEMOCRACIA. GOD BLESS AMERICA AND PUERTO RICO

that would be “public” LOL

So to the Resident Commissioner’s staff, thank you for the apology. However, we will leave you with this advice: IN AMERICA, WE EMBRACE DEMOCRACY. WE DON’T CENSOR IT. Next time, think about it.

We will be watching.

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Politics aside, ANYONE who wants to know about Puerto Rico’s colonial status and its relationship with the United States, needs to see the following video, produced by students at Antilles High School, a school operated by the US Department of Defense in Guaynabo, PR. This is the BEST summary we have ever seen about Puerto Rico’s political status. Now if only fellow American citizens could pay attention to this 113-year-old issue instead of worrying about the Middle East.

http://www.schooltube.com/v/31e1651ceb426a770c15

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We are committed to providing comprehensive coverage of Tuesday’s Puerto Rican Status Forum organized by the pro-statehood group, the Center for Puerto Rico Equality and Advancement (CPREA), which was held in the Rayburn Building of the United States House of Representatives.

Speakers included pro-statehooders Puerto Rican Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi and Puerto Rican Secretary of State Kenneth D. McClintock, two of the highest ranking government officials in the administration of Republican Governor Luis Fortuño.

Pierluisi, who is a non-voting member of Congress but is also Congress’ biggest spender, said the following:

The only way we can begin the [statehood] process is by obtaining more than 50% [support on the island.] We have to do a better job and stop making excuses.

We have included pictures of the event. Later today, we plan to have a FULL AUDIO RECORDING of the forum. In addition, we were also able to ask three questions during the Q & A session of the forum. The answers to these questions appear below.

CPREA's Rafael Rodríguez addresses the session

Attendees at Tuesday's Puerto Rican status forum at the US House of Representatives

Puerto Rican Secretary of State and pro-statehooder, Kenneth D. McClintock (center)

Here were the three questions were asked:

Why aren’t the Puerto Rican Independence Party, a legitimate political party, and spokespeople for the new Free Associated State option not at this forum? Doesn’t this send a message that this forum is limited in its democratic scope?

This question was fielded by Mr. Andrés W. López, member of the DNC, He said “like any election, all people who are eligible to participate should participate.  It is up to those who are concerned about the issue to attend these and other meetings dealing with the upcoming plebiscite.”

What is your position on the fact that the White House does not recommend Puerto Ricans born on the island but now living on the mainland cannot vote on the upcoming plebiscite?

This question was fielded by McClintock. He said that everyone in the White House Task Force on Puerto Rico Status agreed that this was the best way to keep non-islanders from controlling the fate of those living on the island.  This was backed by Mr. Howard L. Hills, another panelist, who stated that it would be easy for outside political groups to muddy up the results.

Why will the second phase of the plebiscite be held in 2013? Why can’t it be held in 2012?

This question was fielded by McClintock. He said the decision not to hold the plebiscite in 2012 was to keep it clear of politics and political machines. He felt that if the plebiscite was held in 2012 it would confuse voters, because all the other candidates and referendums that would be introduced in 2012 [US presidential primaries and Puerto Rican gubernatorial elections].  He also said the timing of the plebiscite in 2013 would give a new Congress time to deal with issues that may come up during and after the plebiscite election.

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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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At a time when the political landscape is examining government budgets with fine tooth combs and microscopes, a report by the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation has listed the Hon. Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rican Resident Commissioner and non-voting member of the US House of Representatives, as the House’s biggest spender, having accumulated $2.1 million in expenses to keep his office running.

As Sunlight’s article mentions:

In 2010, members, committees and other offices of the U.S. House of Representatives spent more than $1.36 billion on salaries, benefits, office equipment, travel, consultants and other expenses. Of that, the largest expense–about $1 billion–was for salaries and benefits, followed by spending on rent and communication costs, technology and related maintenance costs.

In addition, the report lists the House’s 10 biggest spenders, with Pierluisi outspending former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi by more than $300,000. Pierluisi, a registered Democrat in Republican Governor Luis Fortuño’s administration, is one of nine Democrats on the Top 10 list of spenders:

  1. Pedro Pierluisi, D-Puerto Rico: $2,117,000
  2. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.: $1,860,000
  3. Jim Costa, D-Calif.: $1,764,000
  4. *Dina Titus, D-Nev.: $1,742,000
  5. *Scott Murphy, D-N.Y.: $1,741,000
  6. Ken Calvert, R-Calif.: $1,737,000
  7. Brad Sherman, D-Calif.: $1,733,000
  8. *Mary Jo Kilroy, D-Ohio: $1,724,000
  9. David Wu, D-Ore.: $1,699,000
  10. Laura Richardson, D-Calif.: $1,688,000

*-Denotes former member

EL NUEVO DÍA, Puerto Rico’s largest circulation newspaper, did get Pierluisi to comment about the Sunlight findings, as reported in Spanish by reporter José A. Delgado. We have translated a few sections of the article here:

Pedro Pierluisi said today that it is the very leadership of the House of Representatives that decides how money allocated to the office of Resident Commissioner in Washington.

“There is a process to request funds,” Commissioner Pierluisi said.

This week, an analysis from the Sunlight Foundation, which highlights the expenses of the offices of House members, said Pierluisi had the highest budget for 2010, with about $ 2.1 million.

The costs that stands out in the Sunlight report is the $ 173.000 in printed material (mainly fact sheets Pierluisi’s office inserted into publications for Puerto Rico) and the nearly $ 60,000 in travel, three times more than any other federal legislator of Puerto Rican origin.

“The trip includes spending on employees,” said Pierluisi, who also said that the cost of tickets to Puerto Rico is much higher than that of tickets that his colleagues can purchase.

Later in the article, Popular Democratic Party Chairman Héctor Ferrer criticized Pierluisi for his actions:

This is not the amount of money that is given. My question is: what is the benefit obtained by the people of Puerto Rico with the expenditure of that money? I have a budget that is a quarter that of Pierluisi’s and I represent the same number of voters.

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Here are some public quotes made yesterday regarding the White House Task Force of Puerto Rico report on the island’s political status.

Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuño

Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuño

The report is very similar to the reports we have seen from the previous administrations of past presidents, in the sense that the ELA (Associated Free State) is territorial and colonial. In fact, it is not permanent. And it establishes that the three permanent alternatives are as follow: independence, statehood, and free association. But it also recognizes that we if we want to continue to be a territory, well it is subject to the territorial clause of the United States Constitution, well the current territorial status is an option, it also establishes the preferred manner to decide this is through a series of plebiscites and not through a Constitution Assembly. —Governor Fortuño on NotiUno Radio

Héctor Ferrer, President of the Popular Democratic Party (PPD)

Héctor Ferrer, President of the Popular Democratic Party (Pro-ELA, Pro-Commonwealth)

As reported by Fox News Latino: The chairman of the main opposition PPD, Hector Ferrer, expressed his satisfaction at the fact that the report included the suggestion to maintain, if Puerto Ricans want, the island’s commonwealth status, his party’s traditional position.

 

Fernando Martin, President of the Puerto Rican Independence Party

 

Fernando Martin, President of the Puerto Rican Independence Party

The White House report has all the characteristics of a mountain pact, nothing new. “It’s denigrating and should embarrass an administration like that of President Barack Obama.

Ex-Governor of Puerto Rico and pro-statehooder Carlos Romero Barceló

Carlos Romero Barceló, former Governor and pro-statehooder

I believe that everything that this Task Force recommends is what we have been suggested ourselves, first that only the resident citizens of Puerto Rico should vote (on a status question)… It includes very important things and it is beneficial for Puerto Rico in regards to the economy and it recognizes that the economic disaster started here here before it started in the United States.

Iván González Cancel

Iván González Cancel, New Progressive Party (PNP) and pro-statehood candidate for Governor of Puerto Rico

Nobody in Puerto Rico should be waiting for a report from the White House that addresses the colonial status of Puerto Rico. Colonialism, like discrimination, like slavery, is unjust.

María "Mayita" Meléndez

María “Mayita” Meléndez, Mayor of Ponce, Puerto Rico

According to the information we have, the report establishes that Puerto Ricans want to resolve this problem of undefinition, and for which a local process is supported and not a Constitutional Assembly. Whatever process we use to resolve our political status must be fulfilled through consultations of the people and through a direct vote… This report does not include an enhance ELA nor does it include media deceptions. The unique ELA is the current model.

Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association

It has been stated the enhance ELA is impossible. For decades, the political debate in Puerto Rico has been contaminated by the distortions about the possibility of enhancing the ELA. It is because of these distortions that Puerto Rico remains a territory of the United States.

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A STATEMENT FROM PEDRO PIERLUSI, RESIDENT COMMISSIONER OF PUERTO RICO

White House supports consulting the people of Puerto Rico on their political status choice, declares that the current status is territorial, and characterizes “enhanced Commonwealth” proposal as impossible

Washington, DC- The Resident Commissioner, Pedro Pierluisi, called the White House Task Force Report an historic document, one that says that resolution of Puerto Rico’s status issue should be an urgent priority, discusses the economic situation on the Island in detailed fashion, and offers recommendations in important areas like health and education.

“The Task Force Report contains the most complete analysis that we have received from the White House regarding our political status problem. I thank the members of the Task Force for the effort, integrity and care they have shown in addressing a subject of such importance to the people of Puerto Rico. Now, we must take action consistent with the guidance and recommendations set forth in the Report,” said Pierluisi.

The voluminous Report supports the government of Puerto Rico conducting a plebiscite process under local law on the question of the Island’s future political status. The Report expresses a preference that the plebiscite be conducted in two stages, with voters first deciding if they want to remain part of the United States or to seek independence and then, depending on their answer to that threshold question, choosing between either the current status and statehood or independence and free association.

The Report observes that the government of Puerto Rico has discussed the possibility of holding a plebiscite this summer that would seek to ascertain the will of the people of Puerto Rico regarding their political status. The Task Force recommends that the President and Congress support any fair, transparent, and swift effort that is consistent with and reflects the will of the people of Puerto Rico. If the process produces a clear result, the Task Force recommends that Congress act on it quickly with the President’s support. If efforts on the Island do not yield a clear result, the Task Force recommends that Congress, with the President’s support, enact federal legislation.

“We welcome this recommendation because it demonstrates—yet again—the Task Force’s commitment to resolve the status issue. It also confirms what I have repeatedly said: that, for now, the ball is in Puerto Rico’s court,” said the Resident Commissioner.

In addition, the Report buries, once and for all, the three myths long promoted by the leadership of the Island’s Popular Democratic Party (PDP). First, it expressly states that Puerto Rico is currently a territory subject to Congress’s plenary power under the Territory Clause of the Constitution. Second, according to the Report, under any of the various “Commonwealth” proposals that have been put forward by the PDP, Puerto Rico would remain subject to congressional authority under the Territory Clause. Finally, the Report explicitly concludes that the fundamental basis of the PDP’s “enhanced Commonwealth” proposal—namely, the establishment of a covenant whose terms could not be later changed by Congress without Puerto Rico’s consent—is impossible. The Report says that the Obama Administration has taken a fresh look at such mutual consent provisions, and has concluded that such provisions would not be enforceable because a future Congress could choose to alter that relationship unilaterally.

“It is clear that the Obama Administration has dealt a fatal blow to the notion of ‘enhanced Commonwealth.’ The Report explicitly says that Puerto Rico is now subject to Congress’s power under the Territory Clause; that, under the PDP’s various proposals to “enhance” or “develop” the Commonwealth, Puerto Rico would remain subject to Congress’s Territory Clause powers; and that the fundamental core of the PDP’s proposal—the mutual consent provision—is impossible,” said Pierluisi.

The Task Force Report also expresses a clear preference for a plebiscite process over a constitutional convention process to determine the views of the people of Puerto Rico on the status question.

In addition, the Report states that, if Puerto Rico were to become a state, Island residents should control their own cultural and linguistic identity. The Report further notes that, under statehood, English should have the same important role in Puerto Rico that it does today.

The White House Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status was established by President Clinton in 2000, with a mandate to focus on the political status issue. President Bush maintained the Task Force in effect and retained its sole focus on status. In October 2009, President Obama signed an Executive Order directing the Task Force maintain its focus on status, while also making recommendation on policies to promote job creation, education, health, clean energy and economic development on the Island.

FOR A COMPLETE REPORT FROM THE WHITE, CLICK HERE.

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