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Posts Tagged ‘Popular Democratic Party of Puerto Rico’


If the race for Puerto Rico’s governor were held today, the latest poll from El Nuevo Día, the island’s largest newspaper, suggests that incumbent Republican and pro-statehooder Luis Fortuño would have a hard time overcoming his main challenger, Alejandro García Padilla.

Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño

These latest results, which were published this morning in END, changed very little from a poll that ran in late March. García Padilla, who is the choice of the island’s Popular Democratic Party (PPD) was at 38% then and he is at 38% now. Fortuño was at 30%, and has crept up to 31%. Pro-independence candidate Juan Dalmau is still at 4%, and there is still 19% who are undecided.

Even with the current national attention by the Republican National Committee being given to Fortuño, the incumbent has barely dented García Padilla’s lead, if that. It’s all about the economy, as they say, and in Puerto Rico, Fortuño’s much publicized tough love has resulted in a more divided island that is still spiraling from double-digit unemployment, a shrinking labor force, and an exodus of young talent to the mainland.

Who knows what the 19% undecided are thinking, but to think that Fortuño will have an easy time is a stretch indeed. Maybe the RNC should be taking notes and rethinking its promotion of the Puerto Rican governor.

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Memo to Puerto Rico’s Popular Democratic Party (PPD), champions and defenders of a status colonial arrangement that is 60 years old and is no longer working: stop the politics, stop the whining, and allow the will of the Puerto Rican people to decide on its political future.

Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño

Today, Puerto Rican and pro-statehood Republican Governor Luis Fortuño signed into law a two-part voter referendum to address the island’s political status preference. The process had already experienced a public session where amendments to the vote were made as well as criticism from members of Fortuño’s own party.

(On a sidenote, Fortuño’s actions must have taken Puerto Rican history into account, since the 2012 plebiscite will occur during the 60th year anniversary of the Puerto Rican Constitution, the document that declared the island a Commonwealth of the United States, the country that invaded it in 1898.)

Now, the PPD leadership, which clings to a colonial status quo mentality that has done very little to advance the status question as well as Puerto Rico’s move into the 21st century, is crying foul. Bring on the POLITIQUERÍA, which has become the island’s #1 pastime, even though more and more islanders are done with the pettiness and more worried about getting jobs and staying safe.

As reported by the Associated Press:

The first part of the referendum will ask voters if they want a change in status or prefer to remain a U.S. commonwealth. The second part will ask that voters choose from three options: statehood, independence or sovereign free association.

The original proposal was to hold the first part of the referendum in August 2012 and then, only if the majority sought a change in status, hold the second part during the November 2012 general elections.

But under the new proposal, the two-part referendum will be held on Nov. 6, said Gov. Luis Fortuño, who leads the pro-statehood New Progressive Party.

Regardless of what voters decide, any change requires approval by the U.S. Congress and president.

PPD Senator Eduardo Bhatia

Sen. Eduardo Bhatia said holding both parts on the same day makes no sense because it assumes that the pro-status quo option doesn’t win and the second round will be necessary.

“This law is proof that the leadership of the pro-statehood movement turns to trickery, deceit and the technique of confusion as political weapons,” said Bhatia of the Popular Democratic Party, which supports the current commonwealth status. “What opportunity do voters have to seriously reflect between one vote and the other? None.”

The questions will be on the same ballot and Fortuño has not stated clearly how they will be presented. Critics fear that being forced to choose from the three options could influence how people vote in the first part.

Kenneth McClintock, secretary of state for Puerto Rico, denied accusations that pro-status quo supporters would be ignored, saying that people were free to leave the second part of the ballot blank. He said Bhatia’s party had previously agreed to holding the referendum in one day.

McClintock said the U.S. Congress would interpret the results if the majority chose something other than maintaining the status quo.

Fortuño also discarded criticism of the referendum.

“All processes aimed at resolving Puerto Rico’s political future assumes that the current situation no longer has majority support,” he said.

Fortuño spokeswoman Ana del Valle said his administration chose to hold the two-part referendum on the same day to get a sense of what people prefer for the island’s political future.

The referendum received praise from Luis Delgado, leader of a group that is pushing for Puerto Rico to have a sovereign free association with the U.S. But Delgado urged Fortuño to demand that the U.S. outline terms and conditions for each of the choices before the referendum is held.

Puerto Rico has long debated its political status, with no majority for any particular status emerging in referendums held in 1967, 1993 and 1998.

Rafael Cox Alomar, a PDP member who is seeking the island’s nonvoting Congressional seat, dismissed the referendum as expensive and unnecessary.

“This referendum does not work and does not involve nor compromise in any way the U.S. Congress,” he said. “In a moment of economic crisis… the cost of this referendum is an insult to the people who reject it.”

Alejandro Garcia Padilla, who is running against Fortuño, said the Popular Democratic Party would soon issue its official stance on the referendum.

Critics also noted that if Fortuño’s party loses the election, millions of dollars spent on the referendum will have gone to waste.

The PPD reaction is clearly partisan and short-sighted. The Defenders of the Colonial Commonwealth are making a huge political mistake by trying to defend a system that is becoming less and less viable for the island. Instead, the PPD should seriously consider taking the growing anti-Fortuño sentiment and turn it into a positive. Why won’t it consider other options that go beyond the current system?

If the PPD continues to think it is running a campaign out of 1979—when the political will to maintain the Colonial Commonwealth was stronger— it will lose it all. Fortuño will win his re-election, even with the island’s social and economic problems, and statehood will win out. The time for the PPD to wake up is now, or else everything it has tried to defend since 1952 will vanish. The smart move now is to try and salvage what it can. Voters in Puerto Rico are ready to change and improve the status quo, and there is still a sentiment that statehood is too extreme and the wrong fit for the island.

But if the PPD doesn’t change its course and stop complaining that it doesn’t approve of the rules of the game, they will become irrelevant.

Why doesn’t the PPD lead the charge in forcing the US Congress to make the plebiscite vote binding? This might actually be seen as a proactive and tangible action that goes beyond political whining.

The question is: if your house is on fire, do you work hard to save part of your house or do you stubbornly refuse to save your burning house out of anger that your house is on fire?

Here’s hoping the PPD wants to truly save the burning house. Puerto Rico is definitely worth saving. The people should have a voice. Let the politicians get out of the way.

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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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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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With the news yesterday that Puerto Rican gubernatorial candidate Alejandro García Padilla of the island’s Popular Democratic Party announced the candidacy of Washington lawyer Rafael Cox Alomar as his party’s choice for Resident Commissioner, the conversation has turned to how a candidate like Cox Alomar, who has no legislative experience, represents a conscious decision by the PPD’s current leadership to maintain the island’s commonwealth (and colonial) relationship with the United States. At at time when the island continues to wrestle with its 113-year-old colonial relationship with a country that invaded it in 1898, the PPD has clearly stated its case: the status quo is the way to go. Why rock the boat. Sure, we are suffering from one of the worst recessions in the history of Puerto Rico, but God Bless the USA, they will see us through this.

Reaction to Cox Alomar’s nomination has, not surprisingly, been partisan in nature. Republican and pro-statehood Governor Luis Fortuño went on record yesterday saying he doesn’t even know who Cox Alomar is, when asked by reporters. Pro-statehood representative José “Pichy” Torres Zamora said he welcomed Cox Alomar’s candidacy, calling him “the Resident Commission candidate that nobody in the Popular Democratic Party wanted.”

Cox Alomar’s position on Puerto Rico’s status is pretty clear: in an essay he wrote in 2010, he was quick to defend the current commonwealth system, and also labeled that those sectors in the island who are pushing for a free associated state outside of the commonwealth arrangement as “neo-independence” believers who are harming the island. As he writes in a piece about the “myths of status:”

What about the neo-independence supporters (who call themselves “sovereign”)? Are you talking about independence in the context of Puerto Rico as a model of free association that already exists in the archipelago of Micronesia?

In his essay, Cox Alomar criticizes the freely associated states of Micronesia as being utter failures, and that creating a Puerto Rican political system will suffer with its own self-funded model, basically suggesting that the island cannot survive without continued financial aid from the United States. In other words, without its colonizer feeding the entitlement machine (Puerto Ricans receive several entitlements from the federal government and has become as classic example of a “welfare nation”), Puerto Rico cannot survive as a country. It is a hard argument to substantiate, since there has never been a case where Puerto Rico has ever been self-sustaining. Once a colony, always a colony.

We argue that Cox Alomar’s position is short-sighted and does not speak to the economic reality that is occurring in Washington these days. When national presidential candidates talk of cutting government spending and the GOP wing of the Congress calls for even more entitlement cuts, there will come a time when Puerto Rico will be on the table. When GOP rhetoric towards US Latinos borders on tinges of hate and ignorance and racism, it is highly unlikely that a new Republican administration will agree that the current economic relationship with Puerto Rico is a good one.

Both Cox Alomar and García Padilla have decided to take their chances on the hope that when push comes to shove, the United States will continue to give Puerto Rico billions and billions of government handouts. In addition, since the position of Resident Commissioner does not even carry a vote in the US Congress, this strategy is just a pipe dream. Without a vote, Puerto Rico is still beholden to the US Congress. That is a risky gamble to take, and it does not speak to the belief that now more than ever, Puerto Rico must take control of its own destiny.

All the law degrees in the world won’t help. In the end, the PPD leadership for the next election is promoting the idea that the status quo is the way to go. Long live colonialism. It is the only thing Puerto Ricans have known for hundreds of years. Why change it now?

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