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Independence Party Criticizes Bernier’s ‘Refusal’ discuss Political Status Issue

By on February 12, 2016

SAN JUAN – Veteran independence leader Rubén Berríos on Friday condemned the refusal of the Popular Democratic Party’s (PDP) gubernatorial candidate, David Bernier, to accept his invitation to discuss Puerto Rico’s political status alongside the pro-statehood New Progressive Party’s Pedro Pierluisi.

Berríos, who presides the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), believes Bernier’s refusal reveals that the PDP leader has to wait for the U.S. government to express itself on the matter before speaking.

“This is the usual, unchanging excuse of the Popular Party’s leadership. The will dictated from Ponce is imposed once again,” said the independence advocate in a press conference at PIP  headquarters in San Juan.

PDP General Secretary Javier Echevarría Vargas said the leader of the PIP erred in his statements Friday because since the day Bernier announced his candidacy for governor, he made clear his position on what should be the substantive proposals and process regarding the issues of political status and the development of the commonwealth.

It has been nearly a month since Berríos invited Bernier and Pierluisi to discuss the political relation between Puerto Rico and the United States and to form a united call for decolonization before the U.S. government and the United Nations. This week, the PDP’s secretary general communicated to Fernando Martín, the executive president of the PIP, that Bernier had instructed him to tell the PIP that they could not meet until the U.S. Supreme Court decided on a case in which the double jeopardy clause, which is relevant to local and federal jurisdiction, is being considered.

The administration of President Barack Obama argues in that case that Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory whose sovereignty is determined by the federal congress.

Meanwhile, Echevarría Vargas said that “the Popular Democratic Party had adopted an institutional position on the matter, a position taken before Berríos’ initiative came about, which was communicated in the first letter sent.”

The PPD called Berríos’ expressions as “tactics involving old rhetoric.”

“We’ve made clear that we are ready to talk with all those who are interested in the welfare of the country, and in this case make advancements in finding a solution to the political status issue, leaving the institutional position of the Popular Party clear; needless to say, it is established by the PDP, its leadership and no one else,” Echevarría Vargas said in a statement.

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