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Ramirez de Ferrer Will Stop At Nothing To Achieve Statehood For Puerto Rico

Will fight for legislation even if she isn’t elected resident commissioner

WOW News Editor

October 23, 2003
Copyright © 2003 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Name: Miriam Ramirez de Ferrer

Birthdate: June 24, 1941 in Caguas

Education: Because her father was in the military, Ramirez de Ferrer went to high school in France. She studied premedicine at Mary Mont College in Barcelona, Spain, and Maryland University in Munich, Germany. She graduated from Central University of Madrid as a gynecologist and obstetrician

Professional experience: The physician has been guest professor at the University of Puerto Rico-Medical Sciences’ School of Public Health. Has been a delegate to the National Republican Party convention; founder of the Puerto Rico Federation of Republican Women; has been Republican National Committeewoman for Puerto Rico; has been appointed to numerous advisory committees on national level, including the Advisory Committee for Presidential Appointments; elected to the Senate in 2000

Marital status: Widow of Tomas Ferrer; mother of five: Miriam J. Pla, 41; Tomas V. Pla, 40; David Pla, 37; Roberto Pla, 33; and Lissette Ferrer, 26

New Progressive Party (NPP) Sen. Miriam Ramirez de Ferrer, a physician, began her life in politics 20 years ago. Contrary to what her contenders assert, it wasn’t until 2000 that she ran for—and easily won—an elective post.

She began collecting petitions in favor of statehood as a common citizen, and by 1985 had collected more than 350,000 signatures, which she sent to Congress. After a couple of meetings with several members of Congress, however, she realized she needed political power to get things done. That is when she decided to run for a local Senate seat.

"I couldn’t continue trying to influence from the outside because in the end, the decisions are made by politicians," Ramirez de Ferrer said.

With her experience in the Senate, she now feels prepared to run for resident commissioner.

Ramirez de Ferrer is known for her participation in the so-called War of the Flags, when statehooders faced pro-independence leaders outside the Capitol, and for placing the U.S. flag in strategic locations in the San Juan metro area. Fellow New Progressive Party members as well as opposition leaders have mocked her, but Ramirez de Ferrer is proud of her actions and of being true to herself.

"I am an open book. People can’t say they don’t know how I think," she said. "I am proud of being an American citizen, and I won’t stop my efforts to see Puerto Rico become a state."

Ramirez de Ferrer calls her three contenders for the resident commissioner post giants, because each has qualities that qualify him for the job.

"Charlie [Rodriguez] has run for everything. [Carlos] Romero Barcelo has more political experience than anyone. [Luis] Fortuño is the candidate of the big corporations; he brings money to throw in the air and tries to compensate for his political inexperience with that," she said.

One of Rossello’s campaign proposals is to hold a local referendum whereby the people of Puerto Rico determine whether to ask the U.S. Congress to take action on the island’s status. Ramirez de Ferrer believes that once the NPP has won the 2004 elections, it should take the results to Congress showing that the overwhelming majority of the population favors statehood and begin the negotiating process.

Unlike fellow candidate Carlos Romero Barcelo, Ramirez de Ferrer believes the resident commissioner should be somewhat distant from the governor’s office. "The resident commissioner can’t be tied to the governor as if he or she were basically an employee. That doesn’t mean the two don’t work as a team, because both want the best for Puerto Rico," she said.

If elected, Ramirez de Ferrer would pursue making Puerto Rico an enterprise zone. To that end, she would seek legislation amending the federal law to include U.S. territories. As an enterprise zone, Puerto Rico would qualify for federal economic development assistance such as tax incentives and loans. The idea of the federal program is to create more opportunities in poor areas by increasing businesses and jobs.

Ramirez de Ferrer is also concerned about teens who get pregnant and drop out of school. If elected, she would seek funds to help these teen moms continue their education and to open daycare centers within the public schools. "You have to get those people back to school any way you can," she said.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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