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PDP Faction Warns Bernier about Status Issue

By on February 17, 2016

SAN JUAN – Various members of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) who advocate more sovereignty for Puerto Rico, warned their gubernatorial candidate, David Bernier, that if he doesn’t espouse their ideological vision, he cannot count on their votes.

Bernier recently clarified that he is not in favor of pushing for the progression of the island’s political status toward free association.

The party leader simply said, “I do not propose that,” referring to the development of the commonwealth toward free association.

Bernier acknowledged, however, that it is a status option defended by PDP leaders and members, and should therefore be part of discussions within the party when the U.S. Supreme Court decides the pending cases regarding the Constitution’s double-jeopardy clause on whether Puerto Rico has sufficient sovereignty to prosecute someone for the same offense they are prosecuted for federally and the case on whether a legislated Puerto Rican bankruptcy law may be utilized.

“If so, then he cannot count on our vote,” said former Sen. Marco A. Rigau, one of the vocal leaders of the free association movement in the PDP.

Bernier emphasized it is “prudent” to wait, as was decided in January by the PDP’s governing board, to see if the U.S. Supreme Court touches upon the nature of the current status.

“The decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, whichever it makes, will help give formality and seriousness to the status debate. If it validates the U.S. Justice [Department’s] change in position regarding the colonial nature of the commonwealth, we must move toward not being so [a colony]. If they reaffirm what they themselves postulated before the UN, then we must demand they stop treating us as a colony,” Bernier said.

Bernier added that a decision as to whether the PDP will appear in June before the UN’s Special Committee on Decolonization will be played by ear.

On what he would do specifically about the free-association proposal, Bernier responded, “I do not propose that, but there are some who have. When the U.S. Supreme Court reaches a decision and [we understand] what it implies, the PDP will sit down in an organized manner to propose to the people a path toward the future,” he said.

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