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Puerto Rico political status referendum set for June 11, 2017

February 14th, 2017 | Tags:
The Puerto Rico political status referendum would be conducted June 11, 2017. If statehood wins, the Government of Puerto Rico would conduct a major campaign to convince the U.S. Congress to grant the status. Photo: CSNBC/File
OVERSEAS TERRITORIES REVIEW

Governor Ricardo Rossello (New Progressive Party/PNP) ... sign(ed) into law... a bill that he supported which would hold a plebiscite in the islands between statehood and nationhood under a 2014 Federal law...

The vote would be conducted June 11, 2017. If statehood wins, the Government of Puerto Rico would conduct a major campaign to convince the U.S. Congress to grant the status.

If nationhood wins, there would be a another vote October 8 between independence and “free association.” Under free association, one nation allows another nation to exercise some of the first nation’s sovereign powers on the condition that either nation can end the association. There are a small number of such free associations around the world.

The U.S. is in free association with three island groups with very small populations in the Pacific. Under these associations, the U.S. has full powers over the defense of the islands, has extended some domestic programs to them, has temporarily granted substantial government subsidies, and permits their citizens to enter the U.S. without regard to immigration restrictions other than those involving security. The “freely associated states” are fully self-governing and have their own international relations that cannot conflict with U.S. security.

The 2014 Federal law provides for Puerto Rico to have a plebiscite on options that would resolve the question of the territory’s future status and that are found by the U.S. Department of Justice to not be incompatible with the Constitution, laws, and policies of the U.S.

The 2014 law was enacted because the Popular Democratic Party (PPD) officials who narrowly won control of Puerto Rico’s government in 2012 disputed a plebiscite held under local law on the same day. That vote rejected continuing territory status, often misleadingly called “commonwealth status,” and, then, choose statehood with 61.1% of the vote, compared with 33.3% for “Sovereign Free Associated State,” and 5.6% for independence.

The PPD argued that the plebiscite was unfair because Puerto Rico was not a territory and because the party’s “commonwealth status” proposal was not on the ballot. All three branches of the Federal government regard Puerto Rico as a territory, and the Obama, George W. Bush, and Clinton Administrations and congressional committee leaders of both national parties and in both houses of Congress have rejected the PPD’s “commonwealth status” proposal for constitutional and other reasons.

Last year’s Federal law on Puerto Rico’s finances, PROMESA, explicitly stated that the islands are a territory and stated that it would not interfere with the territory choosing its future status. The U.S. Supreme Court last year also reaffirmed Puerto Rico’s territory status, prompted by the U.S. Justice Department, at least in part because of the Obama Administration’s desire to obtain enactment of a law like PROMESA.

The PNP won the 2016 elections on a platform of aggressively seeking statehood. The status is the top priority of Rossello, the PNP’s two-thirds majority in each house of the Legislative Assembly, and Resident Commissioner in Washington, DC, Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R/PNP), who has a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Statehood or nationhood are necessary for Puerto Ricans to have equal voting representation in the government that makes their national laws and for Puerto Ricans to be treated equally under national laws. PNP leaders make the case that this equality within the U.S. is necessary for Puerto Rico’s failing territory economy to be substantially improved.

One of the first bills that Gonzalez-Colon introduced in the U.S. House would make Puerto Rico a State in 2025 if statehood wins a plebiscite under the 2014 Federal law. In the interim, equal treatment in Federal laws would be phased in according to a plan determined by the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status.

The 2016 Republican National Platform called for the Congress to enact statehood legislation if statehood wins a vote under the 2014 Federal law. Earlier, President Trump said during his campaign that Congress should consider the status for Puerto Rico if it wins a referendum.

In the past, Democrats in Congress have demonstrated more openness to statehood than Republicans.

The PPD has not decided yet what to do about the plebiscite. Some leaders want to say that it is unfair because it does not include the federally-rejected “commonwealth.” Others have advocated free association. Some suggested a boycott.

A proposal to hold a status plebiscite vote on June 11, 2017 has been enacted into law in Puerto Rico. The stated goals of the new law are to establish the “[i]mmediate decolonization of Puerto Rico,” and implement a 2014 federal law that provides $2.5 million to support a vote on status with options pre-approved by the U.S. Justice Department.  According to the 2014 law, those options much be “final, permanent, neither colonial nor territorial, compatible with the Constitution, laws and policies of the United States and with international law[.]”

6 Responses to “Puerto Rico political status referendum set for June 11, 2017”

  • 1 (14/02/2017, 19:53) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    statehood please
    • IRS (20/02/2017, 18:38) Like (0) Dislike (2) Reply
      Those free loaders won't vote for statehood it because it means federal income tax.
  • Donald J Trump (15/02/2017, 15:37) Like (1) Dislike (2) Reply
    You are on your own,will not bail out no small island nation.
  • free (15/02/2017, 21:46) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    Independence
  • wrong time (22/02/2017, 10:36) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    Puerto Ricans couldn't have chosen the worse time in their country's history to seek statehood. Now now! Not under this climate (Republican control of every branch of Government) and the demonizing and mass Latino deportations. Puerto Ricans you can't have your cake and eat it too. As my parents would say, "you make your bed; you must lie in it".
  • Edwin (07/06/2017, 07:04) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    We took this land from the American people.now we called the . Puerto Rican people all kinds of name's . except American citizens.wich they are by birth.that piece of land it's only 35 x100 miles.been so Small it gives more soldiers to the mainland than the State of texas.so lets keep our loud mouth closed.and welcome them with open arms .like any other state.so read history and talk garbage later.they are defending.our shores and freedom since world word one.have a great day everyone.


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