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PDP demands cancellation of Puerto Rico status referendum

By on May 5, 2017

SAN JUAN – The Popular Democratic Party (PDP) requested that Gov. Ricardo Rosselló immediately cancel de June 11 political-status referendum, due to Puerto Rico’s deepening fiscal crisis.

On Friday, PDP Elections Commissioner Miguel Ríos also called for the president of the State Elections Commission (CEE by its Spanish initials), Liza García, to stop the plebiscite’s advertising campaign, which he claims would cost the commission more than $2 million.

“This week, the governor [sought] Title III of the Promesa law due to the government’s fiscal situation. However, the NPP [New Progressive Party] is bent on spending $5 million from public funds in a process that doesn’t make any sense,” Ríos said, stressing that there is no justification to continue with the referendum.

As for the funds allocated to the vote’s ad campaign, Ríos said that “in light of our fiscal situation, the last thing we need is to spend millions of dollars in an unnecessary electoral event that doesn’t help Puerto Ricans at all.”

He recalled that ever since the plebiscite was announced, his party “warned that the process was exclusionary and unconstitutional, that it should be canceled.”

Ríos said that besides the island’s bankruptcy, the U.S. Justice Department and Republican senators’ concerns about the plebiscite are other reasons for suspending the vote.

The referendum’s cost is estimated at about $7.5 million, but the CEE president warned the U.S. Justice Department and Puerto Rico Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marín that the total cost could reach $8.5 million.

García told Caribbean Business that the CEE officially ended the registration period for voting in the referendum with 2.4 million eligible voters.

The only party that supports the referendum is the NPP, which promotes statehood for Puerto Rico.

The different parties and groups that advocate free association and independence decided to boycott the vote after the administration added the commonwealth as a status option on the ballot, as requested by the U.S. Justice Department, following intense lobbying from PDP officials, who consistently challenged its legality after being excluded from the process.

The Popular Democratic Party had decided from the outset to boycott the process, alleging it favored statehood because it excluded the commonwealth status option.

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