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Storm Damage Won't Halt Vote on Statehood

BY Lance Oliver, Sentinel Correspondent

October 12, 1998
©Copyright 1998 Orlando Sentinel

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Gov. Pedro Rossello demonstrated his firm grip on power within the pro- statehood New Progressive Party again last week by persuading the party's governing board to vote unanimously in favor of holding the status plebiscite Dec. 13 as originally planned.

Despite pleas from the pro-commonwealth party and some local officials, the governor said the destruction left by Hurricane Georges was no reason to postpone or cancel the vote on Puerto Rico 's political future.

After a two-hour meeting, the board agreed with Rossello.

The party still is divided, however. Guaynabo Mayor Hector O'Neill, president of the party's association of mayors, called the board's vote a "bad decision."

Senate President Charlie Rodriguez, who had suggested postponing the vote, was conspicuously absent from the news conference after the party caucus.

A day after the vote, the mayors association voted to go ahead with the plebiscite campaign, but O'Neill and others were absent. And the mayors who attended said they will not ask their constituents for donations for the campaign.

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