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Bhatia Backs Governor’s Efforts To Advance Status Initiative… Fortuño Has Reservations About Proposal…Senate Votes Nay… Berrios Could Mediate Between Acevedo Vila, Rossello

Bhatia Supports Efforts Of Governor Of Puerto Rico To Advance Status Initiative; PRFAA Will Advocate To Foster Washington Dialogue

11 February 2005
Copyright © 2005 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

U.S. Newswire

WASHINGTON, Feb.11 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The Executive Director of the mainland office of the Governor of Puerto Rico (PRFAA - Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration), Eduardo Bhatia, expressed his support for the initiative presented today by the Governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Anibal Acevedo-Vila, in the Puerto Rico Legislative Assembly, which calls for a referendum on procedural mechanisms that will advance the status of the relationship between the Island and the United States. Governor Acevedo-Vila's proposed legislation advocates for a referendum on July 10, 2005 where voters in Puerto Rico will have the option of determining one of two procedural mechanisms that will advance the status issue. The first procedural mechanism would be a formal request to the United States Congress to authorize a federally mandated plebiscite on the Island with the alternatives of Commonwealth, Statehood and Independence, as defined by Congress.

The second procedural mechanism would be the creation of a local Constitutional Assembly on Status selected by the people of Puerto Rico. This Constitutional Assembly would be required to establish a dialogue with the President's Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status, which was appointed by President Bush in 2003. While the Governor favors the Constitutional Assembly on Status, he strongly believes it should be the people of Puerto Rico who should make the final decision.

"Governor Acevedo Vila also has sent a letter to the President in which he expresses his commitment to furthering the dialogue between the Island and the United States regarding this important issue for the people of Puerto Rico," expressed Bhatia. "I applaud the Governor's leadership and willingness to work with leaders at the local and national level as well as his resolute belief in a true democratic process that will allow Puerto Rico to decide the path to follow," concluded PRFAA 's executive director.

In his letter to the President, Governor Acevedo-Vila underscores his belief that this referendum will allow the people of Puerto Rico to express their will through a democratic process. "It is the Governor's priority to advance the discussion of the future political status of Puerto Rico and showcase to the world his Administration's willingness in providing the people an opportunity to choose a course for the leadership to follow. PRFAA expects to work with the Resident Commissioner, Luis Fortuno, and with the United States Congress and the White House in a joint effort to move this initiative forward," expressed Bhatia.

Finally, Bhatia restated the Governor's philosophy as expressed in his letter to President Bush:

"The future status of the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States is a subject that has deeply divided Puerto Ricans on the Island and leaders of both major political parties in the United States over the course of the last 100 years. As the new Governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, I am deeply committed to develop a procedural mechanism that will, at the very least, offer all concerned a leveled playing field in which to seriously discuss and develop sound alternatives for our future and provide an opportunity for all Puerto Ricans to have a voice and a vote in the development of the roadmap for resolving the issue of status."


PRFAA serves as the mainland offices of the Governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, advancing the Commonwealth's initiatives before the U.S. Congress and federal agencies, promoting economic and public policies important to the growth and empowerment of Puerto Rico. The Washington, DC office is located at 1100 17th Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036 and can be reached at 202-778-0710 or via the Web at .

Contact: Ana Carrion, 787-474-4415 or acarrion(At), or Maite Rivera, 202-271-7272 or mrivera(At), both of Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration;Web: http://www.PRFAA.COM

Fortuño Hesitant To Endorse Governor’s Status Proposal


12 February 2005
Copyright © 2005 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — With his usual cautious and diplomatic tone, Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño on Friday expressed reservations about the measure proposed by Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vila aimed at dealing with the issue of the island’s status.

Fortuño said the Constitutional Status Assembly is not an option to include as a procedural mechanism in the referendum, which would be held in July.

"It could give the impression that one of the viable alternatives for this issue is unilateral action," Fortuño said in a telephone conversation with several reporters. The reporters were at La Fortaleza, where Acevedo Vila had just announced his proposal.

Fortuño said the governor’s proposal could give "a mistaken message locally and could send a message to Washington that this is not a final solution."

The resident commissioner said he had spoken with the governor about his concerns this week.

Fortuño said the alternatives to deal with the status issue presented by the NPP majority should also be discussed.

The Legislature, dominated by New Progressives, wants to hold a referendum so Puerto Ricans can decide if they want to address the status problem and, if the majority responds in the affirmative, then they will turn to the U.S. Congress, negotiate the options for status, and later hold a plebiscite on these alternatives.

Senate Votes Against Governor’s Status Proposal

15 February 2005
Copyright © 2005 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — With the vote of the New Progressive Party (NPP) majority, the Senate approved a resolution that establishes as public policy the "yes or no" referendum to demand that Congress and the U.S. President define the non-territorial and non-colonial options for a future plebiscite on status.

The resolution is contrary to the measure proposed by Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila, which would have held a vote July 10 in which Puerto Ricans could choose between the NPP proposal or the creation of a Constitutional Assembly on status.

According to news reports, the measure was approved after the Senate repealed past legislation by the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) that endorsed the Constitutional Assembly as the procedure to resolve the status issue.

The PDP and PIP minorities voted against the measure.

Berrios Could Mediate Between Acevedo Vila, Rossello

17 February 2005
Copyright © 2005 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — With files in hand, the president of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), Ruben Berrios, arrived Thursday at La Fortaleza, where he was scheduled to meet with Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila to discuss his proposal on status.

"Today I bring a proposal to the governor, and later I will take it also to former governor (Pedro) Rossello, what I believe to be a proposal with a future, that can be very important to break the conflict that exists," Berrios said as he arrived at the executive mansion.

The PIP leader said he is also sending a letter to Rossello asking for a meeting to present his proposal, on which he did not want to offer details, but of which he said: "it would lead to connecting the interests of both that have been expressed as essential, and that answer the needs of the day."

To the proposal that he be a mediator between the NPP faction and the PDP group, Berrios said if both maintain their respective positions, the result will always be "total immobility."

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