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Former Puerto Rico governor advises not promoting statehood after referendum

By on June 13, 2017

Former Gov. Rafael Hernández Colón waves to the crowd during a celebration at the Capitol in San Juan on July 25, 2002, for the 50th anniversary of Puerto Rico’s Constitution, which established the island as a “Free Associated State,” or Commonwealth. (Lynne Sladky, File/AP)

SAN JUAN – Former Puerto Rico Gov. Rafael Hernández Colón, who has questioned the validity of the status referendum held on the island Sunday, urged Gov. Ricardo Rosselló to refrain from promoting the results of that vote in U.S. Congress “because it hurts statehood.”

“It is unfortunate that, given this message, the government insists on taking the results to Congress to work on statehood,” the ex-governor and main ideologist of the free-associated state told Caribbean Business.

He said that promoting the referendum’s results “will harm the statehood movement and Puerto Rico; the statehood movement because the artificial results of the 2012 plebiscite have already been rejected.”

Hernández Colón, who has an active Washington campaign for the U.S. government not to recognize the latest stauts referendum, in which statehood received 97% of the more than 500,000 votes cast, said the low turnout was because “the people are tired of the discourse of colonialism,” adding that the results only matter to “the political class and the media.”

Puerto Rico governor justifies referendum’s low voter turnout

“The result would not represent the collective will. In its intuitive democratic vocation, [the people] understood that a ballot with the weight in favor of one of the alternatives lacked legitimacy and the effectiveness to produce further results,” he said.

The Popular Democratic Party leader said the people have great problems, such as the fiscal crisis and economic contraction, “and know that the political status won’t change. They know that attributing the crisis and the contraction to the political status is the political class’ denial of problems generated by bad government and unbridled public spending.”

PDP president says boycott of Puerto Rico vote defeated statehood

Last week, before the vote, Hernández Colón warned that the government of Puerto Rico had failed to comply with the provisions of Public Law 113-76 of 2014, known as the Consolidated Appropriations Act, and that it ignored the procedure established by Congress to act on the will of the people of Puerto Rico with respect to their future political status.

“In light of the fact that the government of the United States has already refused to act on statehood based on the controversial results of the 2012 plebiscite and provided for federal Justice to validate the ballot before the people voted, and the Puerto Rico government’s decision to proceed with the plebiscite without the validation of Justice, Congress will not act” on Sunday’s results, the former governor predicted.

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