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Author: William-Jose Velez

Senate Committee holds hearing on Puerto Rico status, rejects territorial and enhanced commonwealth options

With the participation of the leaders of the three main political parties in Puerto Rico, the United States Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources held a hearing on Puerto Rico’s status and the results of the 2012 plebiscite. During the hearing, Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla, Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi and former senator Ruben Berrios spoke as presidents of the Popular Democratic, New Progressive, and Puerto Rican Independence parties respectively. While the Obama administration was invited to send a representative to speak, it declined to do so. The hearing began with a statement from Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) who...

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Statehooders celebrate Barbosa’s birthday

Last Saturday statehood supporters from across the island met to commemorate the birth of Jose Celso Barbosa at a low key event organized by Proyecto Estrella and the Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association. The even had what we’re sure was an awkward encounter between New Progressive Party potential gubernatorial candidates Pedro Pierluisi and Ricardo Rossello, who through their own independent channels, promote the event, and highlighted their participation. Pictures of the event from each camp however, would have led anyone to believe there were two separate events, even though it was the one and the same. Proyecto Estrella managed to get the only picture that showed both leaders in the same frame in their appropriately named post “United for...

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Secret moves of Government of Puerto Rico to exempt territory from health insurance reform uncovered

The Puerto Rico Report has uncovered that the administration of Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla tried to exempt Puerto Rico from the Affordable Care Act health insurance guarantee privisions, a key part of the signature law of the Obama administration, arguing that the same provisions of the states did not apply in the territory. The request was promptly rejected by the federal government, who indicated that the territory did have the authority to require health insurance, and in fact had asked to be included in the law. From the article: In May, Garcia’s Commissioner of Insurance, Angela Weyne, led a stealth territorial request to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to waive the requirement in the islands. The argument was that, unlike in the States, in the territories, Obamacare does not require employers to offer health insurance and individuals to purchase it.  In the States, the required new policies for previously uninsured individuals will pay for the coverage of those who need more health care than other people. But the Garcia Administration’s argument also surprisingly ignored that the territorial government can require health insurance coverage by employers and individuals.  This is surprising in light of Garcia saying as recently as yesterday that Puerto Rico should exercise as much autonomy as it can with its political status (territory, sometimes misleadingly called “commonwealth.”) A Federal health official politely slapped down...

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UPDATED: HR 2000 gets James Clyburn as cosponsor

In a surprising move, Representative James Clyburn (D-SC) has signed on as one of the 95 cosponsors of HR 2000, the Puerto Rico Status Resolution Act introduced by Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi (D-PR). Clyburn has been aligned with the Popular Democratic Party, opposing any measures promoted by the New Progressive Party. The relationship between Clyburn and the PPD has been such that Clyburn appeared in a 2004 campaign video endorsing then PPD gubernatorial candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila, and was part of the group of congressional democratic leadership who helped bring about the death of HR 900 back in 2008....

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US House Appropriations Committee approves funding for status plebiscite

The United States House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations approved today the Commerce, Justice, Sciences and Related Agencies Funding Bill for fiscal year 2014, which includes language from the proposed presidential budget, allocating $2.5 million to solve the political status of Puerto Rico, announced Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi. the announcement came following news that the language was not included in the US Senate version of the bill. Comité federal aprobó el proyecto que incluye lenguaje del presupuesto presidencial asignando $2.5 millones para resolver el estatus de PR — Pedro Pierluisi (@pedropierluisi) July 17, 2013 The report of the committee that accompanies the bill establishes that the US Department of Justice will only the disburse the funds to the State Elections Commission of Puerto Rico after a period of 45 days following the notification from the DOJ to the corresponding congressional committees that it has approved the plan of the commission for electoral education and for the electoral process, including the approval of the ballot. The DOJ will have to certify to Congress that the ballot and the materials to educate voters are compatible with the Constitution, laws and the public policy of the United States. “We keep moving forward in the fight to obtain the dignified, democratic status with equality of rights that we deserve. I am satisfied with the language of the bill, since it shows that the...

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