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Head to Head

June 12, 1999
Copyright © 1999 PRIMERA HORA. All Rights Reserved.

PRIMERA HORA submitted the same questionnaire to the two candidates for Resident Commissioner from the Popular Democratic Party, in order to obtain their answers "Head to Head".

Aníbal Acevedo Vilá


José A. Hernández Mayoral

That is very probable, yes. If you were elected Resident Commissioner, would you and your whole family move to the Washington area? My family would stay in Puerto Rico until the end of the school year, which by that time would already be in progress. At that point, my wife and I would decide.
According to the law, the Resident Commissioner is the representative of the Government and the people. In order for his administration to be successful, his agenda must be the result of a team effort with the Governor and all the other government officials.  Who would dictate your agenda? You yourself? You with the elected government officials? Just the government? The agenda would be in harmony with the government and the mayors in accordance with the platform promises made by the PDP. Nevertheless, this agenda mandates the well-being of all Puerto Ricans.
The first thing I would do is to be a Commissioner at the service of all Puerto Ricans and, on behalf of the people, I would take to Congress and to the White House what is the true feeling of the Puerto Rican people regarding the Commonwealth and its development, Sections 936, 30A, Vieques.  If you were Resident Commissioner now, what would you do differently from Carlos Romero Barceló? I would not adopt a contentious attitude against any of the other ideologic sectors in Puerto Rico.
I would maintain a good relationship with the Republican and the Democratic Party for Puerto Rico's benefit. Nevertheless, based on my personal philosophy regarding social justice, I am a Democrat.  Would you become an active member of the Democratic wing? Yes. The social thinking of the Democratic Party is closest to my own way of thinking.
That would require an amendment to the US Constitution, which is a very complicated thing. The path to take must be to grant more autonomy to the Commonwealth.  Do you believe it's possible for the Resident Commissioner to have a vote in Congress under Commonwealth? That would depend on what is required or what would have to be sacrificed in exchange for that right to vote.
I obtained my Masters Degree in Law at Harvard, and I worked for a year at the Federal Court of Appeals in Boston. Obviously, I am fluent in English.   How good is your English? Do you speak it fluently? I speak it fluently. I did my bachelor studies at Harvard, and my law studies at Stanford.
A great part of the Commissioner's work is of a legislative nature in Congress. That requires great skill in debate, negotiation and teamwork. Obviously, previous legislative and political experience is of the utmost importance.  Do you feel that legislative experience gives any advantage to the person who aspires to be Resident Commissioner? No. No PDP Commissioner, except for Polanco Abreu, had previous legislative experience. It's the same situation with the NPP. Just one person has had previous legislative experience: Carlos Romero Barceló. It is more important to have clarity, strength, consistency, motivation and a genuine willingness to serve in this capacity.
My successes in public life have revealed new ways of participating in politics with respect, uprightness, and credibility, which is attractive to people of all parties, whether a Popular Party member or not.   Do you consider nonpartisan voters to be an attractive option to the Popular Party? Yes, because I understand that democracy is not just government by the majority, but respect for the minority. For this reason, I don't go about with an oppressive, bullying attitude toward my opponents. Therefore, despite the fact that I'm an autonomist, I recognize the existence of a movement for statehood and one for independence. Although they are minorities, those of us in the majority must attend even to the least of their concerns. This non-bullying attitude must prove attractive to the nonpartisan voter.
My youth, the way in which I dialogue and search for consensus, the respect that I have for the people of Puerto Rico and my commitment to the Commonwealth and its development.  What makes you more attractive to the voters than Carlos Romero Barceló? The fact that I have neither a contentious nor a bullying style.
I am my own letter of introduction, my own credentials through my work, what I have done on behalf of the Popular Party and Puerto Rico. I offer the Popular Party my youth, my experience in Washington defending the Commonwealth, through my experience in Puerto Rico defending the Popular Party, my legislative experience, my ability to work together with Sila Calderón and the whole Party leadership.   What makes you more attractive than the other candidate? I prefer not to answer that myself, but rather that it be the voters who determine who is the best option to defeat the NPP and Romero, the best option to attract the nonpartisan vote and to motivate the various sectors of the PDP.
The question is offensive to the intellectual capacity of women.  Do you feel that you possess better physical attributes than your opponent to help you capture the feminine vote? My wife thinks so, but that is not for me to determine.
The fact that he is the son of a great leader of this party.   Honestly define your opponent's greatest strength. His position of vice president and ex-president.
His inexperience in politics and government.  And, also answering sincerely, what is his greatest weakness? I'm not going to get into that. It is not for me to point out the weaknesses of my opponents in the PDP.
In life, that would be my father, who taught me that there is no substitute for work and individual effort for people to achieve what they desire in life, and he educated me on the sanctity of public and political service.   Who do you consider to be your spiritual sponsor or mentor? Rafael Hernández Colón.
Her ability to dialogue and achieve consensus, and her commitment to honesty in public service.  Now, tell us what is the greatest attribute of Sila María Calderón. A strong-as-iron administrator. She does not tolerate mediocrity.
I am not familiar with him as a leader.   ...and the greatest attribute of Carlos Ignacio Pesquera. At this time, I can't [comment]. Pesquera seems to be a good person, but I don't know him well.
Nothing occurs to me.  If you had to choose just one virtue of Pedro Rosselló, what would that be? His discipline.
His stubbornness and arrogance.   ...and, on the other hand, if you had to select one of his faults, what would you mention? His stubbornness.
That together we are going to win the 2000 elections.  Finally, if you should lose, what would you say directly to your opponent? That I congratulate him, and I put myself at his disposal to achieve a victory in 2000.

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