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THE PUERTO RICO HERALD
PUERTO RICO: AMERICA'S BULWARK
September 17, 1999
Copyright © 1999 THE PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.
The controversy -- both in the 50 states and in Puerto Rico
-- surrounding the granting of clemency to members of the FALN
has, unfortunately, obscured the 101 year commitment of Puerto
Rico's 3.8 million American citizens to the democratic ideals
embodied in the US Constitution.
Just as the illegal and misguided actions of a few self-styled
anti-government groups and individuals stateside do not reflect
the overwhelming democratic views of the American people, the
20 year-old extra-legal tactics employed by the independence-minded
FALN, some of whose members were granted clemency, do not mirror
the democratic principles and practices of the people of Puerto
Rico. To assume otherwise, does an injustice to all Puerto Ricans
and besmirches the honor of the thousands upon thousands of brave
Puerto Rican men and woman who have fought overseas to defend
America since World War I.
Puerto Rico has truly been the living ideal of American democracy.
Its constitution closely follows the American model, but it also
provides for elected minority representation in its governing
bodies for political parties that would not otherwise garner enough
votes on their own to win election. Thus, Puerto Rico's pro-independence
party has at-large members in both of the territorial commonwealth's
legislative chambers although it regularly receives less than
5 percent of votes cast island-wide.
As such, Puerto Rico's democratic system allows for all views
on the island's current and future political status options --
independence, statehood, commonwealth -- to be aired in democratic
and legislative arenas. Hence, there is no justification for
Individuals or organizations acting outside of these institutions
on behalf of any of the status options: they are neither tolerated
nor legally countenanced.
Significantly, there is no other American jurisdiction as committed
to democratic principles as Puerto Rico. Regularly, 70 percent
to 80 percent of registered Puerto Rican voters cast ballots at
election time. This is two to two and one half times higher than
Equally telling is Puerto Rico's defense of American democracy.
With one of the highest military enlistment rates, over 197,000
Puerto Rican men and women have defended American principles in
every conflict abroad from World War I to Kosovo. Some 6,220 have
been wounded and 1,225 have been killed in the service of their
country, the United States. Four have been awarded the Congressional
Medal of Honor.
Puerto Ricans are proud of their American citizenship; practicing
and defending it with a zeal unmatched anywhere in the United
States. Puerto Ricans overwhelmingly condemn the actions of those
very few among them who would taint their commitment to the US
Constitution and anyone, anywhere, who would call into question
their loyalty to the American flag and for all that it stands.