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EFE NEWS SERVICE
"No More Creole Referendums," Pesquera Says
In New York
August 27, 1999
Copyright © 1999 EFE NEWS SERVICE (U.S.) INC. Source: World
Reporter (TM). All Rights Reserved.
New York - The ruling New Progressive Party (PNP) candidate for
governor of Puerto Rico, Carlos Pesquera, said Friday that he
would only support a referendum on the status of the island that
would be binding for the U.S. Congress and would maintain Spanish
as the island's official language.
According to Pesquera, "Creole, or home-grown, referendums"
conducted on the island have not hurt possible statehood, "but
neither have they solved the problem of the status of Puerto Rico,
which has been a territory of the United States since 1908, and
whose defense, currency and immigration depend on that country."
Pesquera, on his first visit to New York as candidate to governor
of Puerto Rico, told EFE that his strategy is a change from the
tack by the current governor and former PNP head, Pedro Rossello.
In his six years as governor, Rossello has held two referendums
on the island's status without previously having secured the consent
of U.S. Congress to implement the plebiscite 's results.
In both instances, the people voted to preserve the status quo.
Pesquera said that he had learned that "if you don't have
a referendum endorsed by the U.S. Congress, it is useless, because
the people realize it will lead nowhere."
He added that perhaps the two plebiscites' only value had been
to make people aware that Puerto Rico must find a solution to
its political status.
"What we must do now is to clearly define a third, different
alternative, but it has to be approved by Congress," said
Pesquera, who supports statehood.
However, he maintained his party's position of excluding Puerto
Ricans living off of the island from the referendum.
Pesquera said, however, that he was ready to listen to arguments
in favor of absentee voting and that if he were convinced, he
would not oppose absentee ballots in the referendum.
He promised to work to promote the new referendum but did not
set a date for it, since it would depend on a commitment from
the U.S. Congress.
"When Congress puts down in writing that it will accept results,
there will be a clearer alternative. My commitment is to work
toward this end and the date will be set when these conditions
are met," the PNP leader said.
He added that he would prepare a working agenda, integrating the
Puerto Rican community that lives in the United States and that
Spanish would be maintained on the island, as "this is a