PIP to Decide Tomorrow on Referendum Participation
SAN JUAN — The Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) convened a meeting for tomorrow between its national committee and governing board to determine whether or not they will participate in the status plebiscite ordered by the government for next June 11, in which voters will choose between statehood and independence/free association.
The meeting is cited at 10:00 a.m. in PIP headquarters in Puerto Nuevo, after which the party will inform its decision on the referendum and other related matters, explained Sen. Juan Dalmau.
Yesterday, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló signed the Law for the Immediate Decolonization of Puerto Rico, formerly Senate Bill 51, which authorizes the plebiscite and establishes the mechanism to implement its results.
Dalmau told Caribbean Business Saturday that Rosselló’s government could face problems in the U.S. Justice Department (JD), since the federal agency could include the territorial commonwealth option in the referendum, currently excluded because the act stands for non-colonial options.
“I have warned Governor Rosselló and legislative leaders on the potential problem of that referendum so they brace themselves if [Justice] includes territorial commonwealth [as an option in the plebiscite],” said Dalmau as he indicated that the New Progressive Party (NPP) may have to stand up to the JD because the approved measure advocates for decolonization, contrary to the territorial commonwealth.
For his part, the governor emphasized that the act officially begins the process to decolonize Puerto Rico, which he claimed must result in statehood.
The bill had been approved finally last Thursday in Senate, where it concurred with a series of amendments made in the House of Representatives in response to criticism from comminwealth and pro-independence advocates alike regarding the bill’s language, which they claimed favored statehood.
Dalmau said that, although the PIP opposed the bill’s approval, that didn’t imply it wouldn’t participate in the referendum.
Senate Bill 51 was approved in the House of Representatives with 34 votes from the NPP, while the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) delegation and PIP Rep. Denis Márquez voted against it. Likewise, the bill received overwhelming support in Senate from the NPP, while the PDP and PIP representatives opposed it.
Despite resistance from legislative minorities, both Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz, who authored the bill, and Rosselló reiterated its “historic importance.”
“With the approval of this bill and the referendum to the Puerto Rican people, our government is fulfilling another commitment it made to put an end to the political status problem… We are beginning an immediate decolonization process that Puerto Rico so desperately needs,” stated Rivera Schatz.
If statehood gathers the majority of votes, the government will create a Transition Committee with seven members, who in turn will draft a Transition Plan that must be approved by the governor to request annexation to the United States.
On the contrary, if sovereignty prevails, a second referendum would be held in October 8, in which voters will choose between independence or the commonwealth.