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Would the establishment of a Commission of Puerto Rican Unity lead to a resolution of the status issue?

June 7, 2002
Copyright © 2002 PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved. 
It has been widely reported that Gov. Sila Calderón is planning to establish a Commission of Puerto Rican Unity which will have the responsibility for choosing a mechanism to resolve the political status issue.

As reported by John Marino in his "Puerto Rico Report" column in last week’s Herald, the nine-member commission would consist of Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner, Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, a representative of each of the three political parties, three non-party civic representatives, and two jurists. The civic representatives and jurists would be appointed by the governor, with the consent of the political parties.

At least three mechanisms would be evaluated:

  • Holding a plebescite, with or without the approval of Congress.
  • Convening a constitutional assembly, authorized by Congress or locally.
  • Establishing a joint US-Puerto Rico Commission, by executive order or federal law, whose recommendation would require ratification by popular vote.

Regardless of what the commission or the voters of Puerto Rico decide, the final approval of a status option must come from the U. S. Congress.

Mr. Acevedo Vilá has said that the commission would not promote any particular status formula but instead would work toward agreeing on the process through which status should be resolved.

From another angle, last week’s "Washington Update" column in the Herald observed that Acevedo Vilá and the governor may view the commission as a first formal step in Calderón’s agenda toward expanded authority and "A New Covenant" for the island. As a starter on that road, all members of the commission would have to agree that "Commonwealth" is a legitimate status option for Puerto Rico.

New Progressive Party President Carlos Pesquera is not ready to accept that premise. If he maintains his stated objective of finding a status solution between only two options — statehood and independence — the participation of the NPP in the commission would be doubtful.

Meanwhile, former Resident Commissioner Carlos Romero Barceló questioned the objectivity of the commission when he stated that the presence of the current Resident Commissioner on the commission would immediately slant it toward Commonwealth and Independence Party official Manuel Rodríguez Orellana expressed fear that the creation of the commission might be a ploy of the Puerto Rico administration to further delay action toward resolution of the status issue.

Speculation is that Gov. Calderón will not delay, at least in setting up the commission. Her initiative, reportedly originally scheduled to be announced on July 25th, the 50th anniversary of Puerto Rico’s Constitution and Commonwealth, may be established earlier by executive order.

This Week's Question:
Would the establishment of a Commission of Puerto Rican Unity lead to a resolution of the status issue?

5% Undecided


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