"Citizenship Stance Shows Change in PDP"
THE SAN JUAN STAR, VIEWPOINT, DECEMBER 7, 1997.
It may have the same name and insignia, but the Popular Democratic Party of today is very different from the party of Luis Muñoz Marin.
The difference between the party of Muñoz Marin and the one of Anibal Acevedo Vila can best be seen in their particular attitudes toward American citizenship.
In the aftermath of the commotion raised by the Puerto Rico Supreme Court decision in the case of Ramirez de Ferrer vs. Juan Mari Bras, some Popular Party leaders have reacted with sympathy and well wishes for what they consider a judicial victory for the separatist leader. There are even some public officials elected on the PDP ticket who have declared their inclination towards renouncing their American citizenship.
Such moves are to be expected from political leaders whose trademark have been opportunism, lack of sincerity and raw partisan convenience.
As recently as the 1993 plebiscite campaign, the PDP displayed the American and the Puerto Rican flags, defining commonwealth status as "the best of two worlds." In plain terms, it means having many benefits paid for by the American taxpayer without any responsibility or sense of loyalty towards our nation.
The Popular Party of these days is no longer to be counted on in support of the concept of permanent union. The leadership discussions in the PDP run around each themes as "free association pact," "sovereignty," "enhanced autonomy," "and "nationality."
The Popular Party these days is not the same whose delegates at the Constitutional Convention of 1952 proclaimed the "We consider as determining factors in our life our citizenship of the United States of America" and "our loyalty to the principles of the Federal Constitution."
The Popular Party of these days has rejected English as an official language; has joined forces with nationalist elements to celebrate the Anti-American "March of the Nation" in 1996; has marched together with leftists militants in the "National Stoppage" of October 1; and has invited Mari Bras to be one of the main speakers at ceremonies to honor the Centennial of the Autonomy charter.
Certainly, the PDP is far from the ideological positions sustained by Muñoz Marin.
The PDP founder is on record defining Puerto Rico as a "community of American citizens that should have whatever name is proper and govern themselves fully in their local functions of government under the federal Constitution" (Hearing on H.R.7674, March 14, 1950).
It was Muñoz Marin, while referring to the terms " a more [perfect union," who said that "it is proper to put now the word 'union' in the sense of the spirit which animates us, in our loyal relationship with the American union" ( Feb.4, 1952).
It was Muñoz Marín who said to the Constitutional Convention the following: "That is why, when I hear someone say, often carelessly, the phrase, uttered in good faith, that 'we are covered by American citizenship,' I believe such a phrase is not spiritually correct. I do not think that we are 'covered by American citizenship.' I believe that we embody within ourselves the American citizenship What I conceive here in Puerto Rico is that we are Americans, not pro-Americans. And that we are Americans, amply and profoundly in the sense of the American Union and in the sense of the culture and history of the entire American hemisphere. We are entirely Americans, of the entire hemisphere, of the entire American continent. It is in this manner that as all good citizens, we enrich too the citizenship of the United States, besides bearing it within us with pride, and beside enriching ourselves with the great values of the great citizenship."
It was Muñoz Marín who, as governor, approved Joint Resolution Number 1, of Dec. 3,1962, proposing a Commonwealth formula "based on common citizenship" in "permanent union."
The proposal included "among other ways of participation, the right to vote for the President and Vice President of the United States."
It was Muñoz Marín who, as senator, supported the Commonwealth status definition that was included in the 1967 plebiscite ballot. One of the basic planks of this definition was the "inviolability of common citizenship as a primary and indispensable basis of the permanent union between Puerto Rico and the United States."
Two days after the plebiscite, on July 25, 1967, Sen. Muñoz Marín was the main speaker at the ceremonies for the commemoration of the Commonwealth Constitution.
His stance on American citizenship was duly ratified: " There should be no doubt about our dedication to permanent union and our purpose of enriching the meaning of American citizenship, not only for Puerto Rico, but to all our fellow citizens of the united States, for their prestige in America and in the world."
The present leadership of the Popular Democratic Party is making plans to commemorate the centennial of the birth of Muñoz Marín.
Perhaps they should include in those plans the promise of returning to the ideological principles of Muñoz, among which we find a loyal dedication to the values of American citizenship.