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Puerto Rico Separate & Equal In Quebec

Senate President Antonio J. Fas lands P.R.’s presence at Parliamentary Conference of the Americas separate from U.S.


April 26, 2001
Copyright © 2001 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

QUEBEC CITY, Canada — The attendance of a Puerto Rico Senate delegation at the Parliamentary Conference of the Americas (COPA, by its Spanish acronym) attracted considerable attention to Puerto Rico while this capitol of the province of Quebec hosted the historic 3rd Summit of the Americas.

"I consider the recognition of Puerto Rico as a separate entity in COPA a major achievement," Senate President Antonio J. Fas Alzamora (PDP-at large) told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS as the two-day COPA meeting concluded. "This is a recognition of the commitment of the administration of Gov. Sila Calderon to maximize Puerto Rico’s international presence, including membership in COPA in our own right as a Caribbean and Latin American nation which we are and within continued permanent association with the U.S. as a Commonwealth."

The COPA conclave is a collateral event being held in conjunction with the Summit where Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien is hosting all of the heads of state or government of the other 33 countries in the hemisphere with the exception of Cuba.

The Senate of Puerto Rico was represented by Fas and Sen. Lucy Arce (PNP-at large) who were accompanied by Ivan R. Orlandi, advisor to the president; Katherine Erazo, advisor to Minority Leader Kenneth McClintock, and Alyssa Golderos Andrews, media advisor.

"I dedicated most of my efforts and participation at COPA to lobby for the peace and justice for Vieques," said Fas. "We were successful in introducing a resolution supporting Puerto Rico on this question and I am grateful for the backing we received from the nations present led particularly by Dominican Republic (D.R.) and Suriname. The resolution is to be formally adopted at the 4th COPA General Assembly to be held in Rio de Janeiro in October."

Fas also met with Minister of International Relations of the provincial

government of Quebec Louise Beaudoin. "I was very impressed with the minister’s interest in the situation in Puerto Rico and we were constantly comparing different aspects of our relationships with either Canada or the U.S. We decided to expand our discussions through subsequent regular meetings."

Puerto Rico’s membership in COPA commenced five years ago when the New Progressive Party was in control of the Puerto Rico Senate and was an initiative of Sen. McClintock. The senator has been active in COPA and had planned to attend the Quebec meeting but was prevented from doing so because of an illness in his family.

President of COPA General Assembly, Sen. Geraldo Magela, a member of the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil, was supportive of Puerto Rico’s membership. Puerto Rico’s involvement in COPA has increased since the 2nd COPA General Assembly was held in Puerto Rico in 2000.

"I presented the report of our deliberations on our meeting in Puerto Rico to President Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil," said Magela. "President Cardoso requested that the National Congress of Brazil be kept informed on the deliberations of COPA, especially its considerations of the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA). President Cardoso supports the work of COPA and looks forward to hosting its next general assembly in Brazil in October."

COPA’s membership does not include all of the nations in the hemisphere but their number is growing. The present roster includes Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, D.R., Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Kitts & Nevis, Suriname, U.S., Uruguay and Venezuela. All were present in Quebec with the exception of Nicaragua and Peru.

Puerto Rico participates through a special category of associate members which includes the provinces of Alberta, New Brunswick, and Quebec (in Canada), the state of Aguascaliente in Mexico, and Puerto Rico. The provincial government of Quebec is a strong supporter of COPA and has provided the venue for the COPA Secretariat.

Several hemispheric regional bodies also participate actively in COPA including the Mercosur Parliamentary Commission, the Amazon Parliament, the Andino Pact Parliament, the Central American Parliament, and the Latin American Parliament.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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