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PDP Withdraws Lawsuit Challenging Plebiscite - Party Will Focus on Victory for the 5th Option

San Juan, Nov. 11 -- PDP President Anibal Acevedo Vila on Tuesday announced that the party was withdrawing its lawsuit challenging the plebiscite and will focus instead on a Dec. 13th victory for the "none of the above" option.

Acevedo Vila denied that the PDP was afraid to pursue its lawsuit in federal court for fear that the U.S. Supreme Court would define the commonwealth as a territory or colony.

However, before the announcement, Gov. Pedro Rossello said that the PDP didn't stand a chance defending the bilateral pact theory before the Supreme Court because the federal courts and Congess have established that such a relationship does not exist.


The Federal Court Will Decide the Plebiscite Case

by Juanita Colombani y Jesús Dávila

November 10, 1998
©Copyright, El Nuevo Día

The Popular Democratic Party's suit against the plebiscite law will definitely be heard by Federal Court Judge Juan Perez Gimenez, Boston's First Circuit Court of Appeals decided yesterday.

In an order of only three lines in length, the appellate court secretary advised that the three-judge panel in charge of considering this matter denied the mandamus request which the PPD had presented so that Boston would order Perez Gimenez to withdraw from the case.

An opinion which coincides with arguments supporting the decision will be presented shortly, the brief order adds.

The Circuit Court order leaves an open path for Perez Gimenez, who will begin to preside over a criminal judgment on the 16th of this month, to determine the merit of the PDP suit, which maintains that the plebiscite law is unconstitutional.

PDP president Anibal Acevedo Vila expressed no surprise over the decision and was careful in speaking of the steps which will be taken.

NEVERTHELESS, in what seems to be a change in strategy, he stated that judicial matters related to the plebiscite pass to a "second plane" from this moment forward, and that the most important thing will be to concentrate the party's energy on the electoral event of Dec. 13.

"For the Popular Party, the primary agenda at this moment is to vindicate the rights of the Puerto Rican people at the voting polls. In view of the fact that five weeks remain before the 13th, the legal matters must move to a second plane, and we are confident of our triumph at the polls," the popular leader said.

"I reiterate that this law is anti-democratic and unconstitutional to the protection of the constitution of the Commonwealth...our next legal steps will be taken as promptly as possible, once we talk with our lawyers," Acevedo Vila added.

The PDP maintains that the plebiscite law is unconstitutional because it does not provide an acceptable commonwealth definition which is representative of the "pact" which the PDP claims exists between the United States and Puerto Rico. Therefore, they decided to promote a chastising vote against Gov. Pedro Rossello, that of the fifth column on the plebiscite ballot, "none of the preceding".

This case had been originally submitted to the Primary Court in San Juan, but the Department of Justice successfully requested that the Federal Court preside over the case.

For Pedro Figueroa, the spokesperson of the New Progressive Party in the House, "What this demonstrates is that Puerto Rico is, without a doubt, a colony subject to the U.S. Congress and government."

Boston's decision makes it clear that issues relating to the plebiscite "are matters of strict federal control. That the mainland courts are those which are called to have the final say in this matter," he said.

Meanwhile, the popular senator Eudaldo Baez Galib stated that the decision "necessarily implicates" that the court understood "that this involves a substantial federal matter".

"Personally, I believe that as we have already inserted into the ballot" an option which he said that he feels comfortable with, "I would recommend to the party that before this electoral seems unnecessary" to continue with the suit. "At this stage, I do not see any reason for us to continue with this litigation" insofar as the general allegations are concerned. He stated that it was his opinion that the best thing would be to continue "exclusively with carrying out the local elections".

The highest officials of the Puerto Rican Independent Party were not surprised by this three-line decision. "It does not surprise me in the least, since the PIP has been affirming the colonial nature of Puerto Rican status since the very foundation of the Commonwealth," Ruben Berrios said last night. He explained that, according to the parameters of the relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico, there is absolutely no doubt that it is a federal matter.

"I believe that this determination surely destroys all the phantasmagorial and illusionary theories of those who accepted and baptized the colonial condition, but who now refuse to recognize that they did so. At last, the moment of the supreme definition draws near," said the PIP president in reference to the words of Pedro Albizu Campos about Puerto Rico's final option, "either the Yankees or the Puerto Ricans".

Click here for PDP Injunction to Stop 1998 Status Plebiscite

Click here for the court decision upholding Federal Jurisdiction of PDP Plebiscite Suit

Click here for related article from The San Juan Star

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