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PDP Leader: Puerto Rico Must Reassess Political Relationship with the United States

By on June 9, 2016

SAN JUAN—Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate David Bernier said the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Sánchez Valle case, which dealt a blow Thursday to Puerto Rico’s claims of sovereignty, forces the government to revise the structure of the island’s political relationship with the United States.

David Bernier

David Bernier

The Supreme Court ruled that Puerto Rico cannot prosecute individuals for the same crimes for which they were convicted by a federal court because it does not have a separate sovereignty. Six justices found that the “ultimate source” of the island’s legal power is the U.S. Congress, even though Puerto Rico has had its own constitution and elected government since the 1950s.

The PDP has traditionally held that the current commonwealth status has a degree of sovereignty that is separate from the United States. The Supreme Court virtually held that Puerto Rico is under the control of Congress.

Bernier said the Supreme Court’s decision in the Sánchez Valle case alters the democratic anchor of the Commonwealth. While it recognizes some self-government, the decision requires a revision of the current relationship with the United States.

“The past debate has been adjudicated by the U.S. Supreme Court. Now it is up to me to head the PDP to the future [as we acknowledge] that reality. I will convene the Governing Board of the party and, just as we had anticipated in a past resolution on the subject, we will be taking the necessary decisions,” he said.

New Progressive Party gubernatorial candidate Ricardo Rosselló said the Supreme Court has ruled that Puerto Rico continues to be a colony. He said it was time for Puerto Ricans to force the validation of the claims made in the 2012 referendum ballot to change Puerto Rico’s political status in favor of statehood.

“Together with my ballot companion, Jennifer González, we are going to take decisive steps to file an admission request on 2017 and execute the Tennessee Plan to achieve a definite solution to the status problem once and for all. The colony is the worst obstacle to our development,” he said.

Former Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz said the PDP must now speak with clarity as to where do they want the PDP to go. “They have been talking about a new alternative that they have not announced, even though they all recognize that the commonwealth is a colonial farce that has taken Puerto Rico to bankruptcy,” he said, adding that the court’s ruling throws out of the window the idea that the commonwealth is not colonial or territorial.

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