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Author: William-Jose Velez

UPDATED: Resident Commissioner Pierluisi comes out in support of US intervention in Syria

Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi has announced his support for President Barack Obama’s plan for a limited strike against Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s regime, in response to the use of chemical weapons against Syrians. Pierluis is the first Puerto Rican official to issue comments on the matter. Post by Pedro Pierluisi – in Congress. “Although I cannot vote, it is important for my voice to be heard in this debate. I respect my colleagues in Congress and my constituents who wonder if the proposed plan will be effective in achieves our objectives. However, after deliberating on the issue carefully, I arrived at the conclusion that launching a specific military attack as President Obama propose is necessary and appropriate” said Pierluisi in a statement released hours before the possibility of a US strike on Syrian facilities became unlikely, following a proposed Russian plan for Syria to submit its chemical weapons to international control. The expressions by the Resident Commissioner would have most likely garnered attention from the national media as Congress discusses the possibility of authorizing the strike, but as a representative from a territory, Pierluisi cannot vote on the resolution. Despite Puerto Rico’s strong presence in US armed forces -the territory has one of the highest per capita participation rates in the military among all US jurisdictions-, island residents have no say on the use of military...

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PPD and Government of Puerto Rico continue sharing resources

In what can be classified as a pattern, the Government of Puerto Rico is now once again embroiled in a controversy over shared resources with the Popular Democratic Party, on this occasion, over its latest campaign for economic development, and the website Alerta Progresista, the media arm of the New Progressive Party uncovered that the domain of the website is registered to Luis Herrero and his company Explorer Company. Herrero is the nephew of former governor Anibal Acevedo Vila, and is the current Director of Media Campaigns of the PPD. After the allegations surfaced, the whois record was changed and the information was private. #EfectoPPD: Luis Herrero, sobrino AAV y Dir Campaña Medios PPD, es dueño del dominio página internet "Isla Estrella". — Alerta Progresista (@aprogresista) August 22, 2013 This is not the first time this type of situation arises, since a few days ago the NPP also criticized the use of the Puerto Rico by Puerto Ricans platform and API access for the Casa Grande initiative of the PPD. Like then, this time there are individuals with access and control of government resources despite not being on the government’s payroll or being in an official contract. So far there has been no response from Fortaleza or the Department of Economic Development and Commerce, which is the agency responsible for the new...

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PPD gains control of Young Democrats Puerto Rico Chapter

Following the announcement by Phillip Arroyo that he would not seek another term as president of the Puerto Rico Chapter of the Young Democrats of America, elections were held and the leadership of the chapter has now fallen in hands of the Popular Democratic Party. Ricardo Alfaro, Director of Digital Strategy for the Governor of Puerto Rico won the presidency of the chapter, marking the first time in years a statehood proponent is not at the helm of the organization. Alfaro prevailed over Zulma Rovira who had the support of Arroyo for the presidency of the chapter. Ricardo Alfaro es el nuevo presidente de la YDA #ATodasconAlfaro @ralfaro — Washu Zapata-Vázquez (@WashuZapata) August 14, 2013 Despite the bipartisan congratulatory remarks for Alfaro, the turn of events represents a setback for an organization that on several occasions has issued resolutions and voiced its support of self determination initiatives and most recently, for the admission of Puerto Rico as the next US state. In fact it seems that Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla has threatened to seek a withdrawal of the resolution recently enacted by the YDA asking for the acknowledgement of the results of the 2012 plebiscite, and the admission of Puerto Rico into the union. The organization still has in its platform its support for Puerto Rico statehood, language that will remain there until 2015. @mdejesus99 Asi q el nuevo Presidente...

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UPDATED: Blurred lines between administration and PPD

Even though it is often assumed that when a party is in power some if not all of its staffers will have positions within the government, sometimes their roles can create potential ethical and legal issues, which is what the opposition New Progressive Party thinks to have found with the Garcia Padilla administration from the Popular Democratic Party. The former, as part of its 75 year anniversary celebration, launched a new memories sites called Casa Grande, or big house, asking supporters to submit pictures of the party’s history. The website uses the APIs or application programming interfaces of Facebook, Twitter and Google, allowing users of those services to log on with their credentials of the mentioned networks. It was in then in the login screens for the website, that a potential issue was uncovered, when by clicking the link to log in, users where asked to provide access permissions to Puerto Rico by Puerto Ricans, which is a government website established to promote internal tourism in the US territory, a supposedly distinct operation from the Casa Grande initiative. While some of the login screens were changed to the Casa Grande name after the allegations by NPP, the Google option still reflects the ‘PuertoRicobyPuertoRicans’ identifier, which is where the conflict lies. In addition, the login screens for both the party and government websites reveal the same developer’s email, Each of...

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Top 10 takeaways from the Senate status hearing

Following yesterday’s appearance of Puerto Rico’s top political leadership before the United States Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources, the ripples have been felt through the local political stratosphere. Here are the top 10 takeaways from the hearing:     1. Congress is convinced the current territorial status was rejected Despite Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla‘s attempts at discrediting the results of the 2012 plebiscite, in particular of the first question which asked voters whether they wished to keep the current territorial status, where 54% selected the no option, Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Lisa Murkowsky (R-AK) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) all seemed to resoundingly agree that the current territorial status, which is the commonwealth status AGP tried to establish, was rejected. First Wyden and Murkowski in their respective opening remarks made it clear that was their position, then Wyden asked those presenting whether the territorial status ought to be included in a ballot which prompted Garcia Padilla to make a lengthy, yet failed attempt (he was interrupted every time he tried) to claim that the ‘commonwealth status’ (technically speaking, there is no such thing as a commonwealth status, since commonwealth refers to the body politic, but that’s a discussion for another day) was not the same as a territorial status and therefore it couldn’t be excluded and was not rejected. Who says there can’t be bipartisan agreement in Washington?...

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