Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Puerto Rico governor's response to the President's Task Force

Expand Messages
  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/opinion/14124936.htm Posted on Sun, Mar. 19, 2006 When Puerto Ricans vote, they choose commonwealth BY ANIBAL
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 19, 2006
    • 0 Attachment

      Posted on Sun, Mar. 19, 2006
      When Puerto Ricans vote, they choose commonwealth

      More than five decades ago, Puerto Rico and the United
      States charted a bold new course by formalizing our
      mutually beneficial relationship. We called it
      commonwealth, and in a 1952 referendum, more than 80
      percent of our island supported its creation. Since
      then, commonwealth has served both the island and U.S.
      mainland well, and has remained the status option of
      choice in subsequent plebiscites. Yet a recent report
      issued to the president by a White House task force
      not only dismissed commonwealth but also raised new
      questions about our future relationship. Whether
      islanders or mainlanders, whether supporters of
      commonwealth, statehood or independence status --
      Puerto Ricans deserve better. It's time to lay the
      questions about our U.S. relationship to rest so that
      we focus on the issues that really matter.

      Since approving our commonwealth constitution, Puerto
      Rico has voted three times on the island's status. We
      have invested ourselves in these referendums, engaging
      in serious spirited debate. Twice, a continuation of
      commonwealth status was the clear choice. In the most
      recent referendum, commonwealth advocates won by
      campaigning in favor of the ''none of the above''
      option to protest the ballot's terminology. Each time
      Puerto Rican voters had the option to choose between
      commonwealth, statehood and independence. Each time we
      reaffirmed our commitment to commonwealth.

      Stacking the deck

      Our people care deeply about our relationship as part
      of the United States. And we have a highly active
      electorate, with more than 80 percent turning out to
      vote regularly, compared to 40 percent in the states.
      For that reason, the report issued by the
      ''President's Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status''
      sent shock waves through our island.

      The task force report casts doubt upon and belittles
      the mutually irrevocable compact between the United
      States and Puerto Ricans, even with the U.N.'s
      certification and the courts' repeated decisions to
      uphold Congress' right to enter into such agreements.
      The report questions our identity as American citizens
      by claiming that Puerto Ricans could have our U.S.
      citizenship revoked at any time, at the will of
      Congress. And the report ignores five decades of
      democratic inclusiveness, putting forth an unfair
      process and effectively tilting the scales in favor of
      a single status option. The task force advocates a
      two-tiered referendum designed to stack the deck
      unfairly in favor of statehood. The task force's
      actions have further divided Puerto Ricans, rather
      than uniting us.

      Instead, we need a new vision. The process to consider
      our status should follow the example of America's
      forefathers: the constitutional convention. For that
      reason, I have worked with a distinguished, bipartisan
      group, including U.S. Senators Trent Lott, R-Miss.;
      Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.; Robert Menendez, D-N.J.; and
      Richard Burr, R-N.C., who recently introduced S.2304,
      ''The Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2006.''
      The bill offers congressional authorization and
      support to Puerto Ricans to hold a constitutional
      assembly to achieve a new level of self-governance.

      Just as we have become an even more prosperous
      commonwealth, this process will make us an even more
      democratic one as well. It will not only provide a
      fair and inclusive forum to voice our preference among
      all three options including commonwealth, statehood
      and independence, but also will allow us to dictate
      the process for doing so.

      The time to resolve Puerto Rico's status is now. Other
      crucial matters require our attention and energy. For
      example, our thriving pharmaceutical industry, the
      bedrock of our economy, faces new pressures from
      Singapore and Ireland. As we build a Puerto Rican
      workforce of ''thinkers'' who will research, design
      and manufacture the important medicines our fellow
      American citizens need, we must focus our resources on
      education. In a world with new security concerns, we
      must protect ourselves from threats and serve as an
      important beacon in the Caribbean for the U.S.
      mainland. We should dream lofty dreams, but also must
      devote the attention needed to accomplish them.

      Time for new approach

      By bringing together Puerto Ricans from all parties,
      we can finally reach consensus. By setting aside
      partisanship and the two-tiered proposal, we can move
      forward to achieve our economic and social goals. Our
      commitment to democracy will be tested. Our ability to
      listen, consider alternatives and compromise will
      never be more important.

      Yet with the same clarity of vision and conviction in
      our beliefs that guided our parents and grandparents
      more than five decades ago to select commonwealth, I
      am confident that our people can join together once
      again for the best interests of our commonwealth of
      Puerto Rico.

      It's time to take a new approach to our future.

      Aníbal Acevedo-Vilá is governor

      of the commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.