No consensus among PDP leaders ahead of status referendum
SAN JUAN – Popular Democratic Party (PDP) President Héctor Ferrer stirred controversy after he urged party voters to write “no” on the June 11 political-status plebiscite instead of selecting “statehood” or “free association/independence.”
PDP Rep. Luis Vega Ramos believes that, rather than nulling the ballot or boycotting the referendum, the best way to defeat statehood is by voting for the “free association/independence” option.
“I don’t think it would be right to damage the ballot as Ferrer has suggested, because that ballot wouldn’t count. The most effective way is to vote massively under the circle [for free association/independence],” the legislator said, adding that during the party’s April 23 general assembly, he will urge PDP delegates to vote for that option.
During a Tuesday press conference, former PDP Presidents Héctor Luis Acevedo and Victoria Muñoz Mendoza said the party must work to include the commonwealth option in the plebiscite.
Acevedo said that by excluding the commonwealth, the NPP intends to create a false majority for statehood, “and that is an assault against democracy and we can’t remain silent.”
Prof. Ángel Rosa, a former PDP senator, urged voters to boycott the referendum, arguing that writing “no” to protest the referendum is an ineffective strategy. He said polls suggest that if PDP supporters had to vote between statehood or independence, they would choose statehood three to one to keep their U.S. citizenship and continue the permanent union.
Likewise, PDP Mayor Miguel “Papín” Ortiz decided that he won’t vote because he believes it is a better tactic to oppose the referendum, confident there will be more voters boycotting it than voting for either statehood or free association/independence.
“When people see independence and statehood [on the ballot], a high percentage of Popular [Democratic] Party voters may lean toward statehood. The goal is not to lead them there. The Popular Party is excluded, the Popular Party philosophy isn’t there. We aren’t pro-independence, we don’t want separation from the United States, nor do we want to annex as a state. Therefore, PDP voters aren’t included in the referendum,” he said in a radio interview (WKAQ 580).
Muñoz Mendoza, meanwhile, assured that “not voting isn’t an option because it would represent a false majority before Congress if statehood prevails.”
‘Contradiction’ in the PDP
Meanwhile, Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González, who is pro-statehood, said there is a “regrettable” contradiction in the PDP’s discourse because one faction seeks parity in federal funds, while another rejects it.
“What is on the line in June 11 are only two columns, one is independence and the other is statehood. Voting ‘no’ or damaging the ballot with a ‘no,’ or leaving it blank, and to a certain extent, not voting, means that we don’t want those federal funds. People have to understand its impact,” the resident commissioner said in Radio Isla 1320 interview.
González added that “while one is fighting and literally begging for funds, and asking and clamoring by using every mechanism available, on the other hand you have the PDP leadership telling people to reject those funds.”