New Progressive Party Hoists a 51-Star Flag
SAN JUAN – The secretary-general of the New Progressive Party (NPP), William Villafañe, on Monday, July 4, removed the U.S. flag from on its pole at party headquarters and hoisted a new flag, with 51 stars.
The event comes about as part of an initiative calling for the U.S. government to “respect the will of the people and give way to a decolonization process in which statehood is attained,” Villafañe said.
“In 1776, a group of brave people decided to say no to the inequality of the colony and fight for their will to be respected. Today, by hoisting a flag with 51 stars, not only do we send a message against the inequality represented by the commonwealth, which is nothing but a colony, but we also conclusively clarify what the new flag of the American nation will be like, once that equality is achieved, which only statehood provides,” he said.
Villafañe added that during the NPP’s monthly directors’ meeting, to be held Tuesday, a resolution will be presented so all of the party’s municipal committees hoist the 51-star flag “to deliver the message of equality and statehood,” he said.
“While [Popular Democratic Party (PDP) President and gubernatorial candidate] David Bernier hides and does not want to tell the people that he and his party support independence, at the New Progressive Party we are clear about the path we want to follow to end the colony once and for all,” he added.
For the politician, “Statehood is the only status that gives us political power within the U.S. federal system and guarantees American citizenship. That flag with 51 stars throughout Puerto Rico will serve as a reminder of our party’s struggle to attain what the vast majority of Puerto Ricans yearn.
“Today marks the 240th anniversary of the declaration of independence of the nation that has become the driving force behind modern democracy throughout the world. Setting an example begins at home. It is time to guarantee the 3.5 million Puerto Rican citizens the democratic power for which they have fought elsewhere in the world,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, PDP Secretary-General Javier Echevarría, described the action as improper and possibly illegal.
“As legal advice, we suggest they reevaluate the decision to alter the American national symbol, which could constitute a violation of the Federal Flag Code, 4 USC 4-10. Those regulations cover and protect this important national symbol,” Echevarría said.
Villafañe said that altering the flag to place an additional star does not represent a violation, but is an act of “freedom of expression.”
He added that the actions could be considered a desecration of the flag, “and are not in harmony with…a political party that aims to emphasize its closeness to and respect for American ideals and symbols.”
Echevarría added that the 51-star flag is a symbol of the “ideological obsessions of [the NPP] leadership, which are more important than the needs of the people.”
The politician also asked the NPP to explain how it intends to implement a Tennessee Plan amid the presence of the Financial Oversight & Management Board, which will be established on the island by September.
The attorney said the action is in stark contrast to Bernier’s vision to promote inclusiveness and address the status issue, “and his plan to bring stability to the retirement systems.”
Ismael Torres contributed to this report.