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Calderon Speaks At Princeton On U.S. Relations, History

Governor Wants To Revise Commonwealth

Princeton U.: Puerto Rican Governor Speaks At Princeton On U.S. Relations, History

By Bryan Hiscox, The Daily Princetonian (Princeton U.)

April 12, 2002
Copyright © 2002
U-Wire. All Rights Reserved. 

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Sila Maria Calderon, the first woman to be elected governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , spoke Thursday to a near-capacity crowd in Princeton University's Dodds Auditorium on the commonwealth's history, its present condition and the future directions it should take.

She began by reviewing the history of Puerto Rico 's commonwealth status, describing how it "came out of an impasse" that lasted nearly two centuries. It all began with divisiveness among the people of Puerto Rico in the early 1890s, she said.

"There were those that wanted either complete absorption by Spain or the United States, and there were those that wanted complete independence," Calderon said.

From there, she outlined the often tumultuous progression of events: a transition from Spanish power to becoming an American territorial possession in 1889 and then the establishment of a commonwealth in 1952.

Though Calderon acknowledged there are still issues that need to be ironed out between the United States and Puerto Rico , she repeatedly emphasized commonwealth status is the best solution for Puerto Ricans .

"The rules of commonwealth are both ideological and imminently practical," Calderon said. "It's a special relationship, which has been forced to meet Puerto Rico 's unique situation. [It has] allowed us to affirm our own identity while cherishing our citizenship."

Remaining a commonwealth has allowed Puerto Rico to address the problems of it own social and economic well-being, Calderon said. The quality of life has improved since the commonwealth was established -- including increases in housing, education and life expectancy, she explained.

However, she warned the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States is still complicated.

"The U.S. has not [always] displayed a willingness to develop the promises of the commonwealth," and "detractors have sought to undermine the relationship," Calderon said.

She insisted people must reinforce the permanence of the commonwealth, but she said the U.S. government must change the way it applies federal tax laws designed to promote business in Puerto Rico . She also expressed concern over immigration rules that have allowed immigrants to flood the commonwealth.

Calderon ended her lecture by denouncing the U.S. Navy's use of Vieques Island as a target range.

"For over the past 60 years the people of Vieques have been affected negatively by the bombing," she said. "The decision of the administration is that these practices must stop immediately, and the Navy must find an alternate location.

"It is not an anti-American issue. This is not an anti-military issue. It is an issue of the violation of human rights."

Puerto Rico will celebrate its 50th anniversary as a commonwealth July 25.

Governor Wants To Revise Commonwealth

By WOW News staff

April 12, 2002
Copyright © 2002
WOW News. All Rights Reserved. 

New Jersey - Gov. Sila Calderon said Thursday that the relationship between the Puerto Rico and U.S. governments should be revised as the island commemorates the 50th anniversary of its commonwealth status.

In a speech presented at Rutgers University in New Jersey, the governor stressed the importance of finding a common strategy to develop the Commonwealth, in accordance with the well being of Puerto Ricans.

In the ceremony held at the university’s student center, Calderon said she is convinced that the best way to promote island development and social justice is by developing the Commonwealth.

Likewise, Calderon affirmed that in order to achieve status development, it is necessary to clarify some legal aspects of our relationship with the United States, such as the application of some federal laws, "which impede our economic development."

The governor stated that the U.S. government should respond sensitively to Puerto Rican’s needs and establish a productive dialogue that leads to the changes deemed necessary.

"It is important that we find a common strategy to strengthen the Commonwealth and our political development," the governor said.

Calderon invited those present to participate in what she called the "pact revision."

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