As Gov. Rosselló signed into law Monday the bill calling for a status
plebiscite on Dec. 13, the Popular Democratic Party was fine-tuning its
planned lawsuit against the government to stop the vote.
PDP President Aníbal Acevedo Vilá said the party would file the lawsuit
in the Court of First Instance next week.
"It seems like a lack of respect for Rosselló to say that he' s
guaranteeing the rights of people with this bill, yet he is taking away the
rights of the half of the population that believes in commonwealth",
Acevedo Vilá said.
The Puerto Rican Independence Party, on the other hand, is confident it
will win in the plebiscite battle because even if statehood wins the vote,
Congress is not ready to allow the island to join the union, according to
Manuel Rodríguez Orellana, PIP secretary for North American relations.
"They have put Congress in the embarrassing situation of having to reject
statehood [for the island]", Rodríguez Orellana said.
Neither the PDP nor the PIP have outlined their respective advertising
campaigns in preparation for the status vote although officials from both
parties have said they will be planning future strategies within the next
The newly signed law authorizing a local plebiscite gives island voters a
choice between statehood, commonwealth, independence and, for the first
time in the island's history, free association.
Some PDP lawmakers, such as Rep. Carlos Vizcarrondo, have said the
inclusion of the free association choice is a ploy to divide the PDP.
Already, two PDP members who advocate more local autonomy, Pro-ELA
President Luis Vega Ramos and Jorge Colberg Toro, president of
Autonomist Impulse, have said they plan to campaign in favor of the free
ProELA will make public a resolution today urging the liberal sectors of
the PDP to support free association unless the PDP agrees to advocate it.
The bill defines free association as a treaty of association between the
United States and Puerto Rico as a sovereign nation.
Senate Minority Leader Antonio Fas Alzamora said the PDP would not
support the free association option, even though the party has always
supported a commonwealth with more autonomy in a relationship with the
Fas Alzamora said the PDP should make public soon a commonwealth
definition prepared during the party's status convention.
"It's a more developed form of the commonwealth. It must be
unveiled soon", he said.
Arguing that there is space within the PDP for dissension, Sen. Eudaldo
Báez Galib said the two autonomist members would not be expelled from
the party for violating rules.
Nevertheless, Báez Galib believes the two autonomist leaders are moving
too fast. If the courts ruled in favor of the PDP in its lawsuit, "the
plebiscite ballot would probably have to be redesigned".
The PDP will try to convince the courts that the law authorizing the
plebiscite is discriminatory because it did not allow political parties to
define the status options on the ballot.
On Monday, Resident Commissioner Carlos Romero Barceló said in an
interview with Efe News Agency that he hoped the Puerto Rico Supreme
Court does not commit "a judicial barbarity" when it rules on the lawsuit,
arguing that the top bench does not have jurisdiction on the matter.
But Fas Alzamora said Romero Barceló was engaging in "scare tactics"
and accused the resident commissioner of trying to intimidate Supreme
"He should respect our judicial institutions", Fas Alzamora said.
Asked about the inclusion of free association on the ballot, Báez Galib
said the option will divide the PIP and not the PDP but Rodríguez
"A true independentista will vote for separate sovereignty, not free
association", he said.
Orellana, who has walked the hallways of Congress many times in the
past, said he sees the status plebiscite as a positive step toward the
decolonization of Puerto Rico.
He said congressional lawmakers have told him privately that they are
concerned that Puerto Ricans want statehood for convenient reason, "to
get more federal aid", and not for patriotic reasons.
In the plebiscite ballot, there is no English requirement in the statehood
definition, but Rodríguez Orellana claims there is no statehood without