|This weeks Hot Button Issue follows up the overwhelming preference registered among respondents to last weeks Herald poll. Almost half chose "Political Status Issues" as their principal area of Puerto Rican focus. The remaining participants were almost evenly divided in choosing among the other categories offered: "The U.S. Government & Puerto Rico," "Island Politics," "The Local Puerto Rican Scene," "Cultural & Language Issues," and "Concerns of Mainland Puerto Ricans."
The Heralds effort to tailor the Hot Button Issues feature to reader interests is reflected in the current poll question relating to the future political status of Puerto Rico. This week, we provide readers the chance to select the political path they desire for Puerto Rico. We ask the question, "Where would you wish Puerto Rico to be in 10 years?"
Of course, there have been frequent elections, plebiscites and referenda on the island over the past decade, each portending voter conclusions about political status but each clouded by such factors as party loyalty, candidate appeal, policy preferences, and dissatisfaction with the past and hopes for the future. The last plebiscite held in 1999, offering the same options appearing in this poll, was marred by a "none of the above" option that attracted slightly over half the votes. In effect, 50% of the Puerto Rican electorate was counted as preferring no political status whatsoever.
Pollsters are constantly tying up island phone lines with their surveys, usually funded by political parties or private foundations. Where Puerto Ricans stand on the subject of political status is staple food for island radio and television formats. Each Puerto Rican politician permanently cocks an ear for murmurs of preference for a given status option. Each is also equipped with a "political status seismograph," able to detect the minutest shift in public opinion on a subject of such pervasive importance to the 3.8 million American citizens residing on the island.
For many, political status is a political party; the PIP, PDP or NPP. For others it is the promise of a political candidate -- a mayor, a governor, a member of congress. Some, with unshakable loyally, carry into the present the conviction of a forbearer, holding it fiercely to project into future generations. Others shift from one preference to another, based on their reaction to current events. In his 1983 account of the Puerto Rican experience, the late historian, Arturo Morales Carrion, noted that, since the remarkable rallying to the ideas of Luis Munoz Marin in the 1950s and 60s, there is no longer a political consensus in Puerto Rico. He called the electorate, "a large floating vote with tenuous partisan allegiances
less sensitive to the status issue and more concerned with personalities, programs and performance."
One thing that all Puerto Ricans agree on is the fact that the present political relationship to the American body politic is insufficient and unsatisfactory. Judge Juan R. Torruella - a Puerto Rican - now a sitting judge on the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals, concluded in his 1985 study of federal judicial findings relating to the Puerto Rico U.S. political relationship that "the archaic notion
that the United States can have a class of several millions of its citizens in a subservient condition ad infinitum, with less rights than even aliens who reside (within its sovereignty) makes no sense and cannot be sustained today on legal, moral or logical grounds."
Do you agree? If so how should it change?
Where Would You Wish Puerto Rico To Be In 10 Years?