|Should A Political Status Plebiscite Be Held In Puerto Rico In 2003?
New Progressive Party (NPP) President, Carlos Pesquera, wants it. Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Governor, Sila Calderon, who at the beginning of her term said she wanted it, now says she doesnt want it.
This week, the Herald asks readers to add their voices to the debate.
Should a plebiscite, offering options for Puerto Ricos permanent political status, be presented to island voters this year?
For those who believe that no commission of Puerto Rican politicians can ever come up with a realistic set of options and definitions for those options the answer is "NO."
For those who believe that, no matter how flawed the process might be, a plebiscite could form the basis of a real political dialogue among the contending parties, the answer is "YES."
Carlos Pesqueras "YES" seems to be an implicit defense of his absence from the recently formed Unity and Consensus Commission, and a way to rain on the Governors 2003 parade. He is suspicious of Ms. Calderons Commission as a mechanism to dilute what he sees as growing island opinion in favor of permanent union with the United States through statehood. Advancement of Ms. Calderons dream of an "enhanced Commonwealth" as appropriate for Puerto Rico is a Pesquera nightmare. Anything that keeps the 51st star from rising in the Caribbean is a political astronomy theory that Pesquera rejects.
Sila Calderons "NO" becomes an opportunity for her to soundly reject a suggestion by the opposition figure who, at present, is the leading candidate poised to unseat her in 2004. It is also "pay-back" for his hostility to her Unity and Consensus Commission. She has been coy about her justification for the Commissions continued existence, particularly since Statehooders, representing at least half of the islands population, want no part of it. Some see it as her method to contain the rancorous status debate until her hoped-for second term in office and as her determination to shape its results in order to show Washington that Puerto Ricans prefer to remain associated with the U.S. but with more autonomy. Skeptics see the Commission as a ploy to dissuade White House and U.S. Congressional advocates from proposing another congressionally sponsored plebiscite for Puerto Rico. As long as the Commission is deliberating, she can say, "we are engaging the issue on our own."
The last locally sponsored plebiscite, held in the waning months of the Rossello Administration, was a disaster. When the U.S. Senate failed to act on a House Bill containing Congressionally-approved definitions for the various status options, the Rossello-backed Puerto Rico Legislature simply took the House definitions and presented them to the voters for selection. The result was that the Statehood definition was the only widely accepted option chosen. All others were rejected, with Commonwealth supporters taking refuge under a "None of the Above" category that polled the majority of votes. Sila Calderon has called that process "a disaster," although she, as a Gubernatorial hopeful at the time, did everything that she could to insure that it became so.
So, if you think that there is any prospect for a different result today than existed in 1998, vote "YES."
If, however, you think that another plebiscite will lead to the same embarrassing result that occurred four years ago in Puerto Rico, vote "NO."
Puerto Rican Election Law does not govern Herald polls. No "None of the Above" option is provided. A simple "YES" or "NO" response will do.
Should A Political Status Plebiscite Be Held In Puerto Rico In 2003?