Washington Accelerates Matters Of Status
By Lina M. F. Younes
June 5, 2001
WASHINGTON, DC. - The crisis of Vieques and the unilateral convocation of a local referendum by the governor Sila Calderón they have provoked that the White House remit with urgency the solution of the problem of status of Puerto Rico for immediate recommendations to the Federal Department of Justice, sources informed El Vocero. According to the sources, the White House has requested to the Federal Department of Justice to study with urgency the possible viable and constitutional alternatives to present to the people of Puerto Rico in the report of the Presidential Working Group on status, three days after the referendum in Vieques July 29, to adopt a national policy that would resolve once and for all the problem of the indefinition of Puerto Rico.
The executive order of President George W. Bush establishes that the said group will yield its first report the 1st of August 2001. Besides, the executive order validates the previous executive order (13183) that directs that the Executive Office of the President will comply with Public Law 106-346 which will assign $2.5 million to the Puerto Rico State Elections Commission (CEE by its Spanish acronym) for the educational campaign in Puerto Rico about the valid options of status. Likewise, as EL VOCERO had published, the Federal Department of State requested to the White House the transfer of the problem of Vieques to the National Security Council given the conflict with the national interests of all Americans presented by the cubanization [of the issue]. A republican source confirmed that "it was Secretary of State Colin Powell himself who made a call in favor of the resumption of the naval maneuvers in Vieques in June, because of the meddling of Fidel Castro in the case of Vieques". According to the sources of EL VOCERO, the Department of Justice is considering "only viable and constitutional options". "They are studying only the statehood or independence options. It would be able to include the territorial Commonwealth (ELA) only as a non-permanent option, one of the sources revealed. Another source informed this newspaper that Federal Justice is considering a possible statement about Puerto Rico as an incorporated territory paying contributions as a prelude to a vote on statehood or independence. However, a similar action would require congressional action since under the Territorial Clause [of the U.S. constitution], Puerto Rico is subject to the plenary powers of Congress. A statement on the incorporated territory would not be able to be produced under an executive order. Independently that the White House yet has not announced the members of the Presidents Working Group on Status, the Federal Department of Justice already is working upon the report that said group has to yield to president George W. Bush. The federal officials "are utilizing as basis the reports prepared by Federal Justice for the Doolittle hearings and the one submitted to the White House in January of this year".
In the report for the Resources Committee hearings on the Doolittle bill last October, constitutional experts and representatives of the Clinton Administration called the definition of Enhanced Commonwealth unconstitutional. Reacting To the analysis being conducted by the Justice Department, the New Progressive Party (NPP) Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, Edison Misla Aldarondo, points out that "now the ball is in the court of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) to present the White House with a constitutional definition of Enhanced Commonwealth. For years they have been selling the fallacy an option of the best of two worlds that does not exist. The importance of this Working Group is that the curtain has been opened. That is a gigantic step," said the NPP leader.