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Acevedo Vilá pleads Sessions to reject status referendum

By on February 19, 2017

SAN JUAN — Former governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá reaffirmed his opposition to the political status referendum in a letter addressed to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in which he questioned the plebiscite’s constitutionality.

In the document, Acevedo Vilá stated that Governor Ricardo Rosselló and the New Progressive Party (NPP) are so bent on pushing for Puerto Rico’s annexation to the United States, that they passed an “unconstitutional” law amid the island’s worst fiscal and economic crises in recent history.

Former Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá (Juan J. Rodríguez/CB)

Former Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá (Juan J. Rodríguez/CB)

According to the former governor, who is currently running for his party’s presidency, the Law for the Immediate Decolonization of Puerto Rico (Act 7-2017) –originally presented by Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz as S.B. 51–, excludes hundreds of thousands of voters from participating in the June 11 referendum because it only includes statehood and independence/free association as non-territorial status options, thus leaving out the commonwealth.

The PDP leader appealed to Sessions to examine the law’s legitimacy before April 16, date by which the local government will assume the law as valid if the attorney general hasn’t taken action by then. “As a former governor I plead you to conclude that the ballot authorized by Act No. 7 isn’t compatible to the Constitution, laws, and policy of the United States,” he wrote.

See also: Rivera Schatz: Referendum will be held with or without Sessions’ approval

Furthermore, he proposed that the statehood option in the ballot isn’t compatible to U.S. public policy because it doesn’t warn voters that implementing statehood would require courtroom procedures and the public learning system to be conducted in English as a primary language.

Acevedo Vilá informed in a press release that he spent last week in Washington, D.C. advocating against the measure. “This letter [to Sessions] is part of the strategy we [in the PDP] have designed, and we want to deliver in defense of your rights and the dignity of the people of Puerto Rico,” he stated.

Héctor Ferrer Convenes General Assembly

For his part, former PDP president Héctor Ferrer announced Sunday he will convene the party’s General Assembly in order for the collective’s delegates to decide their course of action regarding the upcoming status referendum.

The former candidate for resident commissioner affirmed that the party’s decision to boycott or participate in the plebiscite should be determined “democratically” in the collective’s General Assembly, instead of “a few [politicians] in a room in PDP headquarters.”

“You have the same sight and the same responsibilities as other leaders in the party. We will do this determination as a Party, united; not separately,” stated Ferrer before a group of municipal committee presidents in Lares.

See also: Status referendum ballot defined

Ferrer, who is running against Acevedo Vilá for the PDP’s presidency, also scrutinized the Rosselló’s administration for their recent legislations, such as the Labor Reform and the Single Employer Act, which have “attacked the institutions that represent our country, such as public workers, the private sector, the university, and its students.”

Thus, he stated the PDP will be responsible for “auditing this government” and “defend the 920,000 Puerto Ricans who didn’t vote for Ricardo Rosselló.”

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