After long debates the Popular Democratic Party
late week ironed out a new definition of commonwealth which was
submitted to Congress.
The island's three main political parties were
given until March 31, 1997 to file their proposals for the status
definitions to be included in the proposed 1998 status
Rep. Don Young R-Alaska filed at the end of
February, for the second time in two years, a bill that has the
purpose of defining the status of Puerto Rico. A process of
"decolonizing" the island that for one hundred years
has been under the sovereignty of the United States.
The commonwealth definition included in the
bill was unsatisfactory by most PDP leaders which were not united
on the future of commonwealth The more conservative populares
wanted few changes in the status quo, while more liberals
proponents of free association focused on establishing a
bilateral compact and granting additional rights to the island.
Last week & PDP announced it had consensus.
Following is the party's proposal:
A new commonwealth relationship:
(A)The new Commonwealth of Puerto Rico would be
joined in a union with the United States that would be permanent
ad the relationship could only be altered mutual consent. Under a
compact, the Commonwealth would be an autonomous body politic
with its own character and culture, not incorporated into the
United States, and sovereign over matters governed by the
Constitution of Puerto Rico, consistent with the Constitution of
the United States.
(B) The United States citizenship of persons
born in Puerto Rico would he guaranteed and secured as provided
by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States
and equal to that of citizens born in the several states. The
individual rights, privileges, immunities provided for the
Constitution of the States would apply to residents of Puerto
Rico. Residents of Puerto Rico would be entitled to receive
benefits under Federal social programs equally with residents of
several States contingent on equitable contributions Puerto Rico
as provided by law.
(C) To enable Puerto Rico to govern
matters necessary to its economic, social and cultural
development under its constitution, the Commonwealth would be
authorized to submit proposals for the entry of Puerto Rico into
international agreements or the exemption of Puerto Rico from
specific Federal laws a provisions thereof to the United States.
The President and the Congress, as appropriate, would consider
whether such proposals would be consistent with the vital
national interests of the United States on an expedited basis
through special procedures to be provided by law. The
Commonwealth would assume any expenses related to increased
responsibilities resulting from the approval of these proposals.
See related commentary:
Analysis of the PDP Definition, Staff Reporter
Supreme Court and Department of Justice Positions, Staff
Constitutional implications of the Commonwealth Proposal, Staff Reporter
Understanding Free Association as a form of Separate Sovereignty, by Fred M. Zeder II