Language on Puerto Rico in Draft Democratic Platform Proves Controversial
SAN JUAN – The president of the Democratic Party in Puerto Rico, Roberto Prats, said he is satisfied with the language regarding Puerto Rico included in the draft Democratic party platform.
“It reflects an important commitment to the future of Puerto Rico under a Hillary Clinton presidency,” the former Popular Democratic Party senator said.
For Prats, it is especially significant that the platform supports directing efforts aimed at achieving “equal treatment for Puerto Ricans under federal healthcare programs, ending decades of unequal treatment.”
“The proposal is balanced, inclusive and does justice to Puerto Rico,” Prats said.
However, on the pro-statehood side, there are complaints about how the plan doesn’t propose how the island could regain self-government and fails to mention the results of the 2012 status plebiscite.
Kenneth McClintock, a former Puerto Rico secretary of State and Democratic national committeeman, said members of the Democratic National Committee, the governing body for the party, should incorporate the platform’s section on Puerto Rico, which appears independently, to the language on other U.S. territories, which reads: “We support full self-government and self-determination for the people of the territories of Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and their right to decide their future status.”
“Everyone in Puerto Rico recognizes that we are a territory, the Supreme Court of the United States reaffirmed it, and Congress exerts its plenary powers under the territorial clause,” McClintock said.
In the party’s draft policy platform, Democrats kept the call for the federal government to respect the limited self-government of Puerto Rico by proposing a process to restructure its public debt; however, a law has already been enacted that restricts the little self government Puerto Rico had and establishes a federal board to handle many government affairs, especially financial matters.
The document will be taken to the committee’s final meeting Friday and Saturday in Orlando, Fla., to be ratified at the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia July 25-28.
The document indicates Democrats believe “that Washington must respect Puerto Rico’s local self government as Congress and the Executive Branch work to provide the necessary tools and aid that Puerto Rico needs to restructure its debt so that it can get on a path towards stability and prosperity, while maintaining its autonomy.”
The proposal, however, seems outdated, since President Barack Obama enacted Thursday the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (Promesa), which establishes a federal board that will take over the commonwealth government’s fiscal affairs and will have the authority to guide the processes to restructure the public debt.
In the document, Democrats express that they “are committed to addressing the extraordinary challenges faced by our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico,” acknowledging that “many stem from the fundamental question of Puerto Rico’s political status.”
The draft also adds that people, “no matter where they reside, should have the right to vote for the President of the United States,” which would require a constitutional amendment.