|Which Combination Of Status Options Should Appear On A Future Status Ballot?
Puerto Ricos governor, Sila Calderon, in spite of campaign assurances that political status was not on her radar screen, has again opened up the perennial debate on the island. Her "Unity and Consensus Commission," which so far has produced neither, is the current forum for status wrangling, giving truth to the adage that, in Puerto Rico, status rhetoric is the refuge of troubled administrations. So far, the list of the Commission participants looks like a pantheon of deities from the Commonwealth and Independence parties. Missing are the gods of statehood who have expressed no interest in thrones set upon the Governors Olympian heights.
The premise for the Commissions formation is that Puerto Ricans on the island need to come together on a permanent status position and then petition the U.S. Congress for its implementation. Opponents of the Commission hold that it is an exercise in futility, since consensus among the entrenched and divergent positions that traditionally emerge in status debates makes this impossible and, secondly, that if some pretext of consensus ended up being a definition of enhanced Commonwealth, it would be rejected out-of-hand by Washington. The U.S. Constitution provides no space for an autonomous territory within the Republic. In last weeks Hot Button Issue poll, Herald readers, by a margin of roughly 2 to 1, thought that the Commission should be scrapped,
Missing from the Commissions mandate is any provision for the expression of public opinion, at least until after politicos have drawn up their conclusions. To correct this omission, the Herald, beginning with this issue, will provide a forum for readers to decide upon issues that will likely be on the Commissions agenda. In that sense, you will become a virtual member of the Governors Commission. Accept our apologies if you have already received an invitation from the Forteleza.
This weeks poll asks readers to pick combinations of status options that should be listed on the ballot in a future Puerto Rican status plebiscite. Choices are among the four definitions offered to voters in the 1998 local plebiscite, all taken from the 1997 "Young Bill," which defined status options acceptable the United States Government. These were Statehood, Independence, Independence with Free Association and Status Quo, described as "territorial commonwealth." No concept of "enhanced Commonwealth or "perfected Commonwealth" was included in the Young bill. It was for this reason that Ms. Calderon recently referred to the Young bill as "a disaster." An analysis of these definitions should be the preeminent business of any Commission seriously interested in offering Puerto Ricans a path to a permanent political status. It is doubtful if it will be.
So, take you seat at the Commissions table and express your opinion. Which combination of status options should appear on the next Puerto Rican plebiscite ballot?