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by Luis R. Dávila-Colón
"On Good Authority"
May 16, 1999
Copyright © 1999 EL MUNDO
LAST MAY 6TH, Zoraida Fonalledas appeared at the status
hearings at the U.S. Senate and, on behalf of the New Progressive
party, she filed an extraordinary, revealing and explosive position
paper which, as is now the custom, went "unnoticed"
by the press.
Attorney Fonalledas, aside from being a tireless supporter
of statehood, is also the national co-delegate of the Puerto Rico
Republican Party and one of the rising stars in the firmament
of renovations of the NPP.
Together with Miriam Ramirez, both weigh and do more than all
of the male republicans together. Brilliant and diplomatic, the
co-delegate doesn't beat around the bush. When she expresses herself
she is armed to the teeth with ideas, documents and promises of
Precisely, that was the contribution of her position paper,
which was filed with the Congress, duly documented by a survey
held in Puerto Rico in April after the plebiscite and which puts
an end to the mythology of the triumph of "none of the preceding."
Fonalledas' presentation emphasized that 99% of the country
voted against the territorial Commonwealth of Puerto Rico defined
by the Congress, and that, therefore, the USA now has the problem
of possessing a colony of citizens without representation, without
political power, and against the consent of those being governed.
Curiously, as with all radical statehooders, the Republican
leader interprets the combined results of the 97% who voted against
the separation formulas as an unmistakable and almost unanimous
expression in favor of a permanent union and of irrevocable United
These two realities lead her to pose to Senator Murkoswki and
company certain simple questions, but which serve as notice to
the powers that be, which are: "Is Congress willing to offer
permanent union and irrevocable citizenship?
"How can this be achieved according to the United States
Constitution?" Zoraidita also challenges Congress to tell
the country the truth about whether it has renounced the power
of the Territorial Clause as the Popular Democratic Party peddles
Fonalledas asks: "Does a confederation exist between nation
and nation? Immediately afterwards, she calls on Congress to end
its silence with respect to these questions, "because Puerto
Rico cannot send a clearer signal to Congress until Congress sweeps
aside a century of confusion, lies, fears, and myths."
Contrary to what the Popular Democratic Party has stated, the
survey presented by Zoraida tears to pieces the lie that a vote
for the fifth column was a vote for the ELA (the Spanish acronym
for the "Commonwealth of Puerto Rico") as it presently
stands. Carried out in mid-April by Zogby International for the
Puerto Rico Herald -a think tank which publishes on the Internet
academic essays on the status- the poll revealed that 40% of those
who voted for the fifth column did so as a means to reject the
holding of the plebiscite during the Christmas season, immediately
after the hurricane, or Governor Rosselló's styles.
Another 37% stated that their vote was aimed at supporting
another definition of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico which was
not on the ballot. An additional 16% voted for other reasons which
had nothing to do with the status formulas. Which means that more
than 63% of the votes for the fifth column were votes of protest
or alien to the ELA.
To that we must add that, according to Zogby, 42% of the voters
in the plebiscite, including 50% of the middle-aged voters, considered
"that the options on the ballot were not clear." The
poll also reveals that statehood found its weakest items with
less than 37% support among middle-aged groups, people over 65,
and in the large cities.
Meanwhile, the fifth column was stronger in the urban suburbs
and among the affluent with income surpassing $50 thousand. It
is interesting to note that in the rural areas and small towns,
statehood was stronger than in the metropolitan suburbs and that
this ideal has a growing force among the middle class, but has
no basis among the wealthy.
More than a majority expressed confusion as to the options
of the plebiscite in the demographic groups of middle age, large
cities and middle class which traditionally were the bulwarks
of Pedro Rosselló's electoral victories.
What is most surprising of Fonalledas' presentation is that
the survey corroborated all of the post-electoral conclusions
internally and separately made by the NPP and the PDP.
Curiouser still, Fonalledas' position paper came at the invitation
of Pedro Rosselló-González who, in publishing this
data which points to him as guilty of the statehood defeat, appears
to have wanted to assume full responsibility for the results as
a vote of repudiation of his strategies and styles.
Zogby's poll reveals several positive details for the NPP. Although
the degree of antipathy of PRG has not declined and although Sila
Calderón has a much more positive image, in matching them
up for the Governorship, Rosselló comes out in front by
two points in a virtual tie (43% to 41%).
Sila has her strengths in the urban suburbs and among the wealthy
city-dwellers, while Rosselló shows more force and penetration
among the middle class, in the small towns, and the rural areas.
Among the protestant voters, Rosselló surpasses the support
of 52% and Sila surpasses the support of 50% of the voters with
income greater than $50 thousand.
On the other hand, for the first time in a long time a survey
detects optimism among the electorate. Fifty-two percent believe
that things in Puerto Rico are going in the right direction, and
in a 3 to 1 proportion, more people say that financially they
are better off today than 4 years ago.
This strange positive attitude coupled with the government's
work, among a generally pessimistic electorate, could explain
why Rosselló is rebounding and recovering opposite Sila.
Even worse for the Popular Democratic Party is the fact that,
according to Zogby, more than 55% of the voters indicate that
if they are given guarantees of economic improvement, preservation
of our culture and language, and the creation of new jobs under
statehood, they were be more inclined to favor it. This included
40% of the PDP followers, 70% of those espousing free association,
and even 35% of those advocating independence.
What Zoraida Fonalledas left with Congress is a virtual bomb.
Pedro Rosselló must be so pleased...