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PDP Faces Challenges in Aligning Party to Solve Status

By on January 8, 2016

SAN JUAN – The biggest challenge Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate David Bernier will have is to align the party behind a status definition to seek more autonomy and a plan for economic development, Dorado Mayor Carlos López said.

Being a centrist party, the PDP is divided between those who support the current commonwealth status and those who support enhancing the self-governing powers of the commonwealth or becoming a freely associated state. For decades, the party has not been able to agree on a single status definition.

López said the PDP must negotiate its political relationship with the United States and “have the courage to establish the areas Puerto Rico is not willing to circumvent in its relationship with the United States.”

“We have to honor the pillars of common defense and common market, but we should be able to trade with other countries and be exempt from the Jones Act…. We have to reaffirm our aspirations,” he said during the ceremony in which Bernier took over the PDP’s presidency.

Bernier said the island should move to a non-colonial and non-territorial commonwealth status. He also supported a “Yes or No” statehood vote.

The PDP has to make a decision as to the political path the commonwealth should follow after the United States backtracked from its position acknowledging Puerto Rico’s right to self-governance.

U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli said in a friend-of-the-court brief that Puerto Rico has not stopped being a territory subject to the plenary powers of Congress after becoming a commonwealth in 1952.

Verrilli made the remarks in a brief filed in the Supreme Court case, Commonwealth v. Sánchez Valle, over whether Puerto Rico can prosecute people for crimes of which they have already been convicted in federal court.

The opinion reverses U.S. claims to the United Nations that it did not have to make reports about Puerto Rico because it had acquired governing powers.

In a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Gov. Alejandro García Padilla charged Washington was reversing a decades-old understanding that Puerto Rico, while a U.S. commonwealth, governs through its own Constitution.

“Under the Puerto Rico Constitution, the political power of the commonwealth emanates from the people and shall be exercised in accordance with their will,” García Padilla wrote.

By Eva Lloréns

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