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THE SAN JUAN STAR
'Disenfranchisement' Spells "Representative Democracy?"
April 12, 2000
Copyright © 2000 THE SAN JUAN STAR. All Rights Reserved.
Ronald Walker just
doesnt get it. (Viewpoint, April 2). Congress has never
wavered from the position that under "Commonwealth Status"
the relationship between the U.S. and Puerto Rico was anything
but territorial in nature and that Congress retained authority
and responsibility under the territorial clause of the US Constitution
to determine the ultimate disposition of the political status
of Puerto Rico. Muñoz recognized and accepted this when
he testified at the time Congress was considering granting us
a full measure of local self-government, when he said that Commonwealth
status did not change the territorial status of Puerto Rico. This
reality was most recently reaffirmed in the letter from the chairman
of the four committees with direct jurisdiction over Puerto Rico
dated April 5, 2000 when they stated that Puerto Rico remained
"subject in all matters to the supremacy of Federal Laws
promulgated by Congress in which they [the people of Puerto Rico]
have no voting representation". It is precisely because we
are subject to all laws adopted by a Congress where we have no
voting participation that makes the relationship colonial in nature.
It is this reality that is unacceptable and makes it necessary
to end our territorial status, a status that was rejected overwhelmingly
by the voters in the 1998 local plebiscite when it received less
than 1,000 votes. There are only two paths out of this colonial
relationship: statehood or independence/free association. There
can be no dignity in a relationship that keeps us disenfranchised.
There are those, however,
like Mr. Walker who evidently believe that window dressing can
somehow cure or obscure this colonial relationship. If it took
former Chief Justice José Trias Monge about 50 years to
admit that this is the case, why should we be surprised that even
former "senior staffers" turn a blind eye to this reality.
It is not the Congress who has perpetrated a "monumental
hoax" on the residents of Puerto Rico, but rather spin-doctors
like Walker who over the years have tried to make us believe that
"disenfranchisement" spells "representative democracy".
Herbert W. Brown III
Citizens Educational Foundation