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SAVE THE INTERNET.

This site has been taken down in protest of bills currently being considered in the US House and Senate. Called SOPA and PIPA,
these bills threaten to destroy the Internet as we know it.

If either one passes, your favorite sites could disappear forever.


ACT NOW.

CALL YOUR SENATOR AND ASK THEM TO VOTE “NO” FOR PIPA JOIN US

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As part of an ongoing series for 2012, the year of yet another Puerto Rican status plebiscite, JulioRVarela.com will periodically be posting columns by influential Puerto Rican political bloggers. We are honored to kick off our series with the first of three columns by Gil C. Schmidt. (NOTE: This three-part column was originally intended for a piece I wrote when I was contributing to Being Latino magazine earlier this year, and Schimidt’s response was never published by BL, so we are following up on an invitation we extended to Gil to have it published here).

Puerto Rico—Never a State (Part One)

By Gil C. Schmidt

 
Understand this: the U.S. will not grant statehood to Puerto Rico. Ever. It is not a “right” Puerto Rico has earned, it is not a “debt” the U.S. has to pay and it is not their “obligation” to take on a nation (a concept many Puerto Ricans shamefully deny we have) as part of their republican federation because of a simple reason: it is their house and they can say who comes in and who doesn’t.

Statehood for Puerto Rico is not going to happen for three unimpeachable reasons:
  1. Ethnic and economic differences, masked or open;
  2. History has spoken and
  3. Under domestic and international law, the ultimate decision is not “theirs”: it’s ours.
Ethnic and economic differences: The average American doesn’t know about or care a thing for Puerto Rico. But you can bet that their ignorance will quickly change to expertise based on a single issue: We are not like them. To the average American, we are not Americans. We are outsiders. Strangers. Parasites even. For though the U.S. was founded on humanistic ideals and principles, in fact, the ideals and principles are often expressed as “If you ain’t one of us, you don’t count and we don’t want you.” Ask Arizona.

For statehood, the procedure says that 38 States have to approve. It’s easier to find 38 States to vote against Puerto Rico. First off, none of the 9 Southern states (Louisiana to Kentucky/North Carolina) would approve. If you have to ask why, you’ve obviously never lived in those States.

Large Western states, like Montana, Idaho and Wyoming are famous for having a strong sense of freedom, “America First” sentiment and an array of militia radicals. They’ll vote NO with nary a split-second’s thought. That makes 12, so Puerto Rican statehood is finished.

But to make the point clearer, take your pick of almost-certain “No” votes: New England states that are as ultra-conservative as the winter is long or some of the other 21 States that would see their comparatively small representation overwhelmed by Puerto Rico’s in the House of Representatives, where the number of votes is based on population, not State seniority.

Furthermore, unlike the Senate, which could rise to 102 Senators, Puerto Rico’s five “representatives” would be taken from high-population states, namely California, New York, Florida, Texas, Illinois or Pennsylvania. These states have high Hispanic minorities, but would these states allow one of their “voices in government” to be given to a fledgling state with a comparative poverty level that makes Mississippi look like Monaco?

And let’s not ignore the question of race. It matters. It matters a lot. Maybe 50 years from now, when the majority of the population of the U.S. is non-white, maybe it won’t matter as much. Or then again, it will, as the difference between “Them that have” and “Them that don’t” could very well make the race issue seem trivial by comparison. But for now, it’s a deal-breaker, whether it’s carried out openly (“English only”) or quietly.

Bio: I lived almost 20 years in the U.S., spanning states from Nebraska to Texas to Mississippi. My appearance and name are those of a White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant, the proverbial W.A.S.P. But I was born in Puerto Rico, a fourth-generation Puerto Rican and have lived on the island continuously since 1987. You can find more of my writings about Puerto Rico at Gil The Jenius: http://gilthejenius.blogspot.com

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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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Just two days after Governor Luis Fortuño announced new amendments to Puerto Rico’s vote on its political status, the Puerto Rican Senate approved the changes for plebiscite, which will be held on the island next August.

The plebiscite, which will once again try to check the mood of the island regarding its colonial relationship with the United States, will now be held in one step, instead of the two-step proposal that was originally pushed by Fortuño earlier this year.

As reported today by Prensa Latina:

San Juan, Dec 21 (Prensa Latina) After days of wrangling and disagreements in the leadership of the ruling New Progressive Party (PNP), the Senate in Puerto Rico approved the legislative measure to carry out a plebiscite to define the future status of the island with the United States.

Governor Luis G. Fortuño persuaded the presidents of the legislative chambers to approve the project to consult the people on relations with Washington, which maintains colonial rule in the country since the military invasion in 1898.

Jenniffer Gonzalez, president of the House of Representatives had always supported that the bill be voted on in accordance with the wishes of the Puerto Rican governor, which was ratified after a meeting at La Fortaleza, government house.

However, Senate president Thomas Rivera Schatz voted for the measure despite rejecting the changes introduced by Fortuño to allow the consultation to be made on Nov. 6, 2012, the same day of the general elections.

Neither did the leader of the Senate agree to eliminate the colonial word referring to the “Free Associated State” created by Washington in 1952 to remove Puerto Rico from the United Nations register of those countries under colonial rule.

Originally, the status consultation was scheduled to take place in two stages, in August and November 2012, for the people to decide in the first round if they wanted to continue as a colony of the United States and in the second, to say what status would they prefer: annexation, free association or independence.

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Press Release (Spanish Version Here)

Monday, December 19, 2011 San Juan, PR: Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuño, along with the Presidents of the House of Representatives and the Senate, announced tonight that after receiving input from the different sectors that have participated in public hearings held at the Legislature that fostered greater participation of the island’s residents in a fair, reasonable, and inclusive manner, agreed to amend the island’s plebiscite status process.

“The amendments discussed and we are announcing today will permit that on the day of the vote, the first phase of the the plebiscite will consist of two questions on the same ballot. We decided that the questions that our constituents will be able to vote on will be detailed as follows:

First: Do you want to maintain the current territorial political status?

Second, voters will select from the following non-territorial options: statehood, independence and sovereign commonwealth, Fortuño said.

“The agreed process includes the main recommendations of the White House Task Force on Puerto Rico. It also addresses the concerns of various groups and members of all parties who participated in the discussion prompted by legislative bodies, which have requested that this process is a simple, fair, and inclusive,” the Chief Executive said.

“This way, all formulas will be represented on the same ballot and in the same query. Similarly, the agreed amendments result in savings for the people of Puerto Rico and will foster a fair and equitable distribution of public funds to the entitled parties or groups who choose to participate in the Consultation,” the Governor added.

Finally, it was noted that the Legislative Reform Consultation for the country will be held on August 19, 2012.

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You know it was bound to happen. Someone at the DNC had to have finally admit that the phenomenon that is Sarah Palin can be bottled up and replicated.

Yup, the Dems are thinking like Palin. With the Senate battle against Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown (a state rep from Wrentham, which for those who don’t know Massachusetts, is the home of the largest discount shopping outlet in New England), the Bay State Democrats have found a Palin-esque diamond in the rough. A young and exciting mayor who has very little national political experience, fought in Iraq, and oh yeah, is African American. And yes, he is WICKED SMART, unlike Palin.

Newton Mayor and Senate Candidate Setti Warren

Newton Mayor Setti Warren has been in office for just 18 months, but last week he jumped into the Democratic primary race. His first mission was to effectively label Scott Brown as a typical Republican, and not the maverick LL Bean Barn Jacket independent that he became when he defeated Martha Coakley in 2010 to win the late Ted Kennedy’s seat.

Well, it appears that the strategy is working, since Brown, who has a $6 million (and growing) campaign war chest, is already responding to Warren’s charges. Yup, looks like things will get interesting in Massachusetts next year. Even though Warren still has to win the Democratic primary, he has quickly become a viable candidate, especially among the supporters of Governor Duval Patrick, who won his second term last year amid predictions that Brown and the Republican machine (more like a scooter in this highly Democratic state) would topple the governor.

Today, Warren’s campaign issued an email about the early buzz:

Mayor Setti Warren burst onto the campaign trail for U.S. Senate last week and repeatedly challenged Senator Scott Brown for his irresponsible votes. After declaring his candidacy on Monday via YouTube, Setti hosted a service breakfast at the American Legion Post in Newton to share his vision with supporters for middle-class security and small business job creation.

Mayor Warren began his Bay State kickoff tour by visiting a Head Start in Brockton, where he highlighted the need for investments in education and challenged Scott Brown’s voting record on Pell Grants and Head Start. Then Setti visited M.F. Foley Inc. in New Bedford, where he discussed the importance of protecting jobs in the fishing industry.  “As a United States Senator, one of the things that I want to focus on is making sure that this industry is sustained over the long haul,” he said.

Setti started Wednesday by touring the Gateway Park biotech complex in Worcester where he discussed his plan to eliminate capital gains taxes on investments in small businesses to help jumpstart growth. Setti was asked about the recent controversy surrounding Scott Brown’s statements on photos of Osama Bin Laden, responding that “a U.S. senator has the responsibility to do due diligence when talking about sensitive national security issues.”

Setti toured National Fiber Insulation Company in Belchertown. At the factory he met with workers and discussed job creation, manufacturing, and clean energy. He called attention to the fact that Scott Brown questions the science behind global climate change, a position clearly not in line with Massachusetts values.  He also visited an innovative home heating oil company in Greenfield. There, Setti continued to highlight the importance of investments in renewable energy.

Setti finished off his tour Thursday in Western Massachusetts where he visited Soldier On, unique multi-million dollar residential housing facility in Pittsfield that helps veterans with mental health and substance abuse challenges. Warren discussed his plan to address job training and homelessness among veterans, and praised the work of Soldier On. “As an Iraq vet, I understand how important it is for veterans to come home to a home and integrate back into life,” he said.

And just today, Setti Warren appeared on ABC’s Top Line. When confronted with the NRSC’s repeated attacks, Setti clearly explained his opposition to Senator Brown’s approach of holding middle class tax cuts hostage, in order to secure tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.

Setti is energized for his campaign to bring strong leadership to the Senate, support Massachusetts families, and represent our State’s values. He will continue to hold Scott Brown’s accountable for his irresponsible record in the Senate.

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As someone who has been involved in local politics and tries to stay active in the Boston and Massachusetts political scene, I provide you with this video invitation:

So, Mike Flaherty, Mayor Tom Menino, Martha Coakley, Steve Pagliuca, Congressman Capuano, or Alan Khazei, let me know if you are interested?

Here are the parameters:
1. A 15-minute one-on-one Q/A on Twitter.
2. Questions would pertain to voter issues.
3. We would create a hashtag (searchable) of your choosing.
4. We would pick a time that is convenient to you and is a busy Twitter time (say 8 or 9pm)
5. We would promote on major Boston-related Twitter outlets.

Think of this a social media engagement with your voter base.

Respectfully submitted,
Julio

About me: Harvard Graduate (class of 1990), former journalist (Glove, Crimson), former VP of Houghton Mifflin Company, now a connected Twitter user in Boston.

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