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This is amazingly beautiful.

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Proving once again that when it comes to the issue of Puerto Rico’s political status everything that is up is down and everything that is down is up, last night the White House backtracked on what Press Secretary Jay Carney said earlier in the day about the island’s recent plebiscite vote on political status, according to a report by El Nuevo Día.

Yesterday afternoon Carney said that the results of the plebiscite’s first question clearly showed that Puerto Ricans had rejected its current commonwealth status, but that the process behind the second question of the vote was not as clear, even though 61% of Puerto Ricans chose statehood in the second part. It is a similar position that the co-chairs of the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status said last week. (For my thoughts as to why this is all muddied in the first place, read this post.)

© Associated Press

© Associated Press

Last night, all that changed, as Luis Miranda, the White House’s Hispanic Affairs spokesperson, said that all the results of the vote were “clear.” Miranda said that the Puerto Rican people wants its political status to be resolved and that a majority favored statehood in the plebiscite’s second question.

According to El Nuevo Día, Miranda’s comments corrected Carney’s prepared White House statement, which was shared with END last Friday.

In the meantime, END also reported that the office of Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor (R), the House Majority Leader, will be talking with his colleagues about Puerto Rico. The newspaper says that Cantor is a key player in favoring a new process that would help to determine Puerto Rico’s status.

Stay tuned for more topsy-turviness. As if this should surprise anyone.

To read the entire END article, click here.

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This afternoon POLITICO reported that the White House “declined to fully endorse a push by Puerto Rico to become the 51st state.” However, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney also reiterated the previously-published position that the Obama Administration believed that Puerto Ricans have rejected their current commonwealth system.

In November Puerto Ricans held a two-part plebiscite vote, which rejected the current commonwealth system in the first part and preferred statehood in the second part. A more detailed analysis about the reality of this vote (context that the POLITICO didn’t include) can be read here.

Here is what POLITICO said:

Asked Monday by a reporter if President Obama would “help” the Puerto Ricans with their statehood bid, [Carney] said: “I think the outcome was a little less clear than that because of the process itself.”

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The story also added the following:

Carney said that the results showed that Puerto Ricans want a resolution to their current political status — and Congress should study the issue closely.

“The people of Puerto Rico have made it clear that they want a resolution to the issue of the island’s political status,” Carney told reporters.

“Congress should now study the results closely and provide the people of Puerto Rico with a clear path forward that lays out the means by which Puerto Ricans themselves can determine their own status,” Carney said.

He added that the Obama administration was committed to the principle that only Puerto Rico could decide on their future.

“This administration, as you know, is committed to the principle that the question of political status is a matter of self-determination for the people of Puerto Rico,” Carney said.

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In response to a November 6 plebiscite vote in Puerto Rico, where 54% of voters rejected the island’s current status quo and 61% chose statehood as its preferred option, the White House today said that Puerto Rico has “made it clear” that it wants to resolve its political status, according to a report in El Nuevo Día.

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As the newspaper reports in Spanish, David Agnew and Tony West, co-chairs for The President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status, stated that the Obama Administration “will work with Congress to provide the people of Puerto Rico a clear process that would establish ways that Puerto Ricans could determine their status. [Note: this quotes and others were translated from the END report in Spanish. They do not reflect the official English version of the statement. END received an advanced copy of the statement.]

Agnew and West also stated the following:

“This Administration is committed to the principle that political status is a topic of self-determination for the people of Puerto Rico.”

“Besides the status question, the Task Force will continue to work with Congress, the people of Puerto Rico and its leaders to address the concerns of the (close to) four million American citizens who call Puerto Rico home, implementing the recommendations of the 2011 report to promote the creation of jobs, improve security, education and address other important education, health and clean energy goals.”

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PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Luis A. Delgado Rodriguez, tel. 787-306-4376

The organization Alliance for a Sovereign Free Association (ALAS) of Puerto Rico officially launched the candidacy of attorney and former Puerto Rican Senator José Alfredo (Yeyo) Ortiz Daliot for the still-vacant position of Resident Commissioner of the Popular Democratic Party (PPD), noting that this would be the best way to resolve this nomination.

The organization’s president, Prof. Luis A. Delgado Rodriguez, said Ortiz Daliot  is the ideal person for this application because when compared to other candidates, Ortiz Daliot has the best attributes to fill that position. Ortiz Daliot has the qualifications: he has remained a faithful member of the PPD, as a San Juan delegate in the party’s last General Assembly; he was director of the Puerto Rican Federal Affairs Office (PRAFA) for five years; and he knows and has extensive experience in the dynamic world of Washington, being recognized and respected by all federal members of the Republican and Democratic parties. Ortiz Daliot  is also known in the White House, having actively participated in the development of the latest work of the White House’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s status question.

The nomination of Ortiz Daliot for Resident Commissioner was announced on Monday October 24 on a radio show and immediately received broad support from the radio audience and the “New Majority,” the term that being used in Puerto Rico to identify people who support and favor free association.

The ALAS president said that the nomination of Ortiz Daliot  would give the President of the PPD three advantages: first, he would balance the ticket to include a candidate of the New Majority. Second, he would bridge important sectors of the center-left, liberal, autonomous and sovereign sectors of the PPD. In addition, based on Monday’s support , his candidacy would transcend the limits of the Popular Party and receive broad support from all the political sectors of the country.

Faced with this possibility, Ortiz Daliot said on Monday that he would be willing to consider such a nomination if PPD gubernatorial Alejandro García Padilla would support it.

“The end goal is to have the best and most qualified candidate for Resident Commissioner. In this case, we are offering a solution to this problem. Now the [PPD leadership] has the floor.” Ortiz Daliot said.

UPDATE (October 26, 2011): García Padilla has chosen Rafael Cox Alomar to be his candidate.

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Washington is a strange place, especially the last few weeks as absurdity rules the air. But this post is not about debt talks. This post is about Illinois Congressman Luis Gutiérrez, the leader the Latino Rebels have called EL GALLITO REBELDE.

Congressman Luis Gutiérrez

Yesterday, Congressman Gutiérrez was arrested near the White House during a demonstration that protested President Obama’s non-committal response to the Dream Act. While the President spoke La Raza, Gutiérrez and others protested. And then they were arrested.

For those who think that this is just some publicity stunt by Gutiérrez, you’re wrong. This congressman of Puerto Rican descent is one to not think about poll numbers, pundits, tracking trends or re-election. Instead, Congressman Gutiérrez LEADS. He ACTS. Whether it is calling more attention to the Dream Act or exposing the civil rights abuses by the current administration of Puerto Rican pro-statehood and Republican darling Luis Fortuño, the Gallito Rebelde will fight the good fight.

Gutiérrez also released a statement regarding how poorly he feels the White House is handling immigration:

Today, Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) reacted to President Obama’s address to the national annual conference of the National Council of La Raza in Washington.  At one point in the President’s speech, referring to his ability to exercise discretion in immigration enforcement, the President said, “Now, I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own.”  At that point, many in the crowd chanted “Si Se Puede” and “Yes You Can,” interrupting his speech momentarily.  The following is a statement by Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez:

I agree with those in the audience who said “Si Se Puede” and “Yes You Can” when the President said he could not do anything about deportations.  I have been traveling the country the past three months asking him not to take the law into his own hands, but to exercise the broad discretionary powers he has under current law that allows him to prioritize individual deportations.

Indeed the President acknowledged that his Administration is trying to prioritize deportations for serious criminals and threats, and I have encouraged him to do more to put non-criminals, young people, and the spouses and parents of U.S. citizens at the back of the line.  Twenty-three Democratic Senators, two former INS General Counsels, and his own Homeland Security staff agree he has this power under current law.  Republicans like Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith and Senator David Vitter have filed bills to take that power away from this President, so I think they agree with me and the audience that he has powers under current law.  So far, according to the Obama Administration, they are using this discretionary power in fewer cases than the previous President and they are deporting more people than any previous President.

We need the President to fight for us and to make it clear he is doing — and not just saying — everything possible to help.  The question is whether the President will exercise the powers he has under current law to give DREAM Act students and other immigrants relief from deportation when it is in the national interest of the United States.  But he has to expend the political capital to do it, which he has been reluctant to do.  The Latino and immigrant voters I talk to — and those at NCLR conference — seem to think that his personal investment in helping immigrant families is lacking.

This White House is proud of their deportation and increases in border security, but it is simply not the case that the President’s hands are tied when it comes to enforcement and people, like those in the audience, know it.

We applaud the Congressman and all the other DREAMERS who will not give up this fight.

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Remarks by Kenneth D. McClintock

As prepared for delivery

May 2, 2011

Puerto Rico's Secretary of State Kenneth D. McClintock

The 2011 White House Report on Puerto Rico is a sincere effort at addressing many of Puerto Rico’s problems and providing both a federal as well as local roadmap to address them. It has its flaws, but they are few.

With regard to Puerto Rico’s political status, the report does not state what it cannot state – that nothing is going to happen status wise in Washington during the remaining 19 months of President Obama’s first term.

While Puerto Rico statehood is and has been a part of the Republican Party platform for decades, and several Republicans in Congress have courageously attempted to address this issue and fulfill that commitment, the current scenario within the Republican majority in the House of Representatives and the Republican minority in the Senate precludes any congressional action during this Congress on the issue of Puerto Rico self-determination.

The report fails to acknowledge that reality, but it is an acknowledgement regarding this or any issue that no White House would make halfway into its mandate.

The report does set forth a more realistic local roadmap, one where Puerto Rico can move ahead in the political status chess game to place Congress, sometime in 2013, in the position of having to move on the issue.

While the report doesn’t impose one single route to follow, it does make very constructive suggestions as to the mechanics and content of a local electoral consultation process.

Based on those suggestions, which include the possibility of a two – step consultation that will produce results that will be more understandable by, and credible to Congress, and the need to include the present relationship as an option in order to provide more credibility, Governor Fortuño has made a two -phase proposal:

First, as the leader of the governing party, he proposed a political status resolution process that includes the current status, offers a two-step consultation, and attempts to avoid intermeshing status with the partisan politics of a general election, a proposal that has been endorsed by the Party.

Second, as governor of Puerto Rico, he invited Puerto Rico’s three political status –based registered parties to seek a consensus on a political status process by May 25th.

The consensus-seeking committee, with a representative from each party, held its first meeting 8 days ago in my office and has since held a second meeting. Let us hope for the best.

It is the Governor’s desire that local legislation, preferably by consensus, can be approved by the end of the legislative session in June.

Hopefully, by the time Congress gets down to work in the spring of 2013, the people of Puerto Rico will have withdrawn whatever consent it ever gave to the present relationship and will get down to the business of matching President Obama’s interest in resolving Puerto Rico’s political status problem.

One of the more remarkable status-related aspects of the Report is the Obama administration’s reiteration of the long-standing federal policy that Puerto Rico remains subject to the Territorial Clause of the Constitution.

Before briefly addressing the fascinating non-status related sections of the Report, I would like to put on the table a suggestion of a step that the Obama administration could take to speed things along.

As you may recall, in one of the several so-called “insular cases”, Balzac vs People of Porto Rico, decided in 1922 by U.S. Supreme Court. Chief Justice Taft, also known as former President William Howard Taft, in an act of judicial legislation set aside the precedents of Lousiana and Alaska in declaring that, in Puerto Rico’s case, the 1917 grant of American citizenship did not constitute incorporation and I quote:

It is true that, in the absence of other and countervailing evidence, a law of Congress or a provision in a treaty acquiring territory, declaring an intention to confer political and civil rights on the inhabitants of the new lands as American citizens, may be properly interpreted to mean an incorporation of it into the union, as in the case of Louisiana and Alaska.

This was one of the chief grounds upon which this court placed its conclusion that Alaska had been incorporated in the Union. But Alaska was a very different case from that of Puerto Rico.

It was an enormous territory, very sparsely settled and offering opportunity for immigration and settlement by American citizens. It was on the American continent and within easy reach of the then United States. It involved none of the difficulties which incorporation of the Philippines and Porto Rico presents.’’

While it is settled that the federal Government normally defends the legal status quo, be it a law or established judicial precedent, there are exceptions, the most recent being the refusal to defend the constitutionality of the federal marriage act.

I would suggest that the Obama administration announce that the federal government will no longer support the continued validity of the insular cases and will no longer set policy based on the holding of those cases.

Having said that, let me briefly address some of the economic proposals contained in the report. If Puerto Rico adopts the Report’s proposal to establish an autonomous energy and public utilities regulatory body, the implementation of that recommendation will revolutionize the energy market and provide benefits to consumers.

The report’s endorsement of the Caribbean energy grid project should be used by Puerto Rico to turn our territory into an energy hub that will create jobs, generate economic activity, and provide regional leadership opportunities.

Finally, we should not take lightly the report’s concern for a lack of  a professional class capable of recognizing the need, identifying, requesting, receiving, properly using, reporting and auditing Federal funds.

The absence of that set of skills is due in part to the deficient teaching of English in PR but the lack of understanding that Federal funds come with strings attached.

Puerto Rico should immediately accept the report’s offer to provide technical assistance to fill that void.

In closing, the Report recognizes the importance of the need to resolve our political status issue as well as the need to improve our economy.

A poor republic of Puerto Rico would rapidly look more like Haiti than Chile.

A poor Puerto Rico would have greater difficulty joining the Union.

A poor Puerto Rico only benefits those who cruelly want to keep Puerto Rico as it is.

As a believer in change, change through statehood, I believe in the need to strengthen our economy, within the constraints of our current states, as a prerequisite for status change.

Thank you.

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