PDP seeks to curb Rivera Schatz’s status referendum

by | Jan 27, 2017 | Bocaítos | Comments

The Senate of Puerto Rico just approved a bill to hold another status plebiscite in early June, this time using the funds allocated by Congress for that purpose, and offering only non-territorial, constitutionally viable alternatives: statehood and independence. The bill however, is facing opposition from the Popular Democratic Party, which continues to argue that an enhanced commonwealth option should be included, one in which the US and Puerto Rico reach a mutually binding agreement outside of the US Constitution’s territorial clause. Such an option would be unconstitutional, since one Congress cannot bind another, but PDP leaders insist on its viability and legality.

Were Senate Bill 51 to hold a status plebiscite with two non-colonial or territorial options becomes a law, the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) will use the tools at its disposal to ensure the referendum proposed for June 11 is not carried out.

PDP Sen. José Nadal Power said his party will seek to stop the referendum by appealing to the U.S. Department of Justice for the inclusion of other status formulas than the two proposed for the plebiscite: the “annexation” of the island as a state of the United States or “separate sovereignty” from that nation.

PDP Sen. José Nadal Power presented amendments to the SB 51, but they were defeated. These sought to include three additional options in the status referendum. (Felipe Torres / CB)

The formulas proposed by Nadal Power were “Estado Libre Asociado (ELA, or free associated state) desarrollado,” or developed commonwealth with which “the relationship established by the constitutions of Puerto Rico and the United States is perfected”; “sovereign ELA,” a decolonizing option that recognizes the island as “a legal body with its own authority” with an agreement with the federal government; and a fifth box with the “None of the above” option.

With these three new options, the ballot of the proposed plebiscite would have been similar to that of the 1998 status plebiscite, in which “None of the above” obtained a majority of the votes.

If the bill is approved in the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico, and signed by Governor Ricardo Rosselló, the US Department of Justice would review that the options are constitutionally viable before the funds allocated by Congress are used.