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Posts Tagged ‘Resident Commissioner’


In today’s El Nuevo Día, Pedro Pierluisi, the island’s Resident Commissioner and a pro-statehood Democrat, said that if Puerto Ricans want the U.S. Congress to act upon the island’s political status, voting “No” to the first question of the two-question November 6 non-binding plebiscite will send a strong message to Congress that Puerto Ricans desire a change in the current commonwealth system. Basically, the first question asks Puerto Ricans if they care to remain a commonwealth of the US or whether they prefer a change in status. The second question—if voters do indeed prefer a change—would ask voters to choose from three status options: independence, statehood, or sovereign free association.

Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner

Even though the entire November 6 plebiscite is non-binding (meaning Congress doesn’t have to do anything no matter what Puerto Ricans vote on), Pierluisi believes that a “No” vote on the first question would send the right message to Congress.

The first question of the two included in the consultation on the status 6th November that will determine if the U.S. Congress will act to implement the results of the vote, said today the Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi. This is what END reported (translation is ours):

“En la primera es que nos va la vida. Si se rechaza el status actual, pues entonces de la segunda el Congreso lo que va a recibir es el deseo de nuestro pueblo en cuanto a cuál de las opciones de cambio es la que favorece. Y ahí sí que no va a tener alternativa”.

“Si por otro lado, que yo espero que no sea el caso, pide que Puerto Rico permanezca con el status que tiene, hasta nuevo aviso, pues entonces la contestación de la segunda pregunta lo que le va a indicar al Congreso es hacia dónde va dirigido nuestro pueblo, pero el Congreso no va a actuar sobre ese resultado”.

“Si el pueblo le dice que no quiere cambio, estoy seguro, no tengo duda, que el Congreso va a esperar para actuar sobre el asunto del status hasta que el pueblo le diga lo contrario”.

“The first question is what matters to us and our lives.  If voters reject the current status [in the first question], that Congress will know what option the desire of our people will prefer with the second question.  There will be no alternative [in the second question].”

“If on the other hand, I hope it’s not the case, voters call for Puerto Rico to stay with the current status, until further notice, then the answer to the second question about what option our people want to indicate to Congress, well, Congress will not act on that result.”

“If the people says they do not want a change [in status], I’m sure, I have no doubt that Congress will wait to act on the status issue until the people tell them otherwise.”

Pierluisi, who is a pro-statehood Democrat and the island’s non-voting member in Congress, and is running for re-election (on November 6; yeah, we know it’s complicated) on the same ticket as pro-statehood Republican governor Luis Fortuño, did make it a point to say that Democrats in Congress would be more open to having Puerto Rico become a state (if the statehood option wins in the plebiscite’s second question) than Fortuño’s fellow Republicans. Yes, we know, it is really confusing. Anyway, this is what Pierluisi added:

“El resultado va a hablar por sí solo. Si la mayoría del pueblo rechaza el status actual pues entonces, como yo lo veo, no tengo dudas de que mis compañeros y compañeras en el Partido Demócrata van a tomar cartas en el asunto y van a querer responder a ese llamado del pueblo por un cambio”.

 “En el caso de los republicanos sabemos que hay sectores en el partido republicano que son muy conservadores, que se han opuesto hasta que meramente tengamos un plebiscito en el pasado y no tengo duda de que también se opondrían a que Puerto Rico se uniera como un estado”.

“The result will speak for itself. If the majority of people reject the current status for then, as I see, I have no doubt that my colleagues in the Democratic Party will take action on the matter and will want to answer the call of the people for a change.”

“For the Republicans, we know that there are sectors in the Republican Party who are very conservative, who have opposed to even have a plebiscite in the past and I have no doubt that they also oppose Puerto Rico becoming a state.”

The status question is the one issue that the island’s politicians have abused for decades. What Pierluisi should be saying on the floor of Congress is that the plebiscite be made BINDING immediately. Instead, Pierluisi falls into the same political trap as every other politician on the island: he is using the carrot of Congress being more accepting of the will of Puerto Rican voters by pushing for an initial answer that clearly benefits his pro-statehood beliefs. A true Resident Commissioner would push for a binding resolution NOW. Instead, Pierluisi is just playing partisan politics, which gets even more complicated on the island since most of his fellow Democrats are more likely to be pro-commonwealth advocates than pro-statehooders. Add the fact that Pierluisi is also saying the Democrats in the Congress would be more open to accept the plebiscite vote than certain sectors of the Republican party, the party that Fortuño is a part of, and it becomes one big political ball of confusion. How can anyone in Puerto Rico even understand it?

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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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