PIP to Defend Independence in Status Referendum
SAN JUAN — The Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) announced Sunday its Central Committee’s determination to participate in the status referendum next June 11 to defend the independence option.
PIP President Rubén Berríos said that “for decades, the PIP’s strategic goal to advance independence has been to promote the supreme definition, anticipated since the thirties by Pedro Albizu Campos.”
The former senator explained that the legislated plebiscite isn’t the procedural option his party has boosted in the status assembly, but once turned into law, the PIP won’t stay behind.
“What is perfect can’t be the enemy of what is necessary,” maintained Berríos as he defended the party’s decision, flanked by Sen. Juan Dalmau, Rep. Denis Márquez, former gubernatorial candidate María de Lourdes Santiago, Fernando Martín, and Manuel Rodríguez Orellana.
The pro-independence leader affirmed that the plebiscite presents the opportunity for a political confrontation that must lead to the definitive definition of Puerto Rico’s political status. “Upon the [New Progressive Party (NPP)] annexationist offensive, the response of the forces that we believe in, Puerto Rican national sovereignty, must be decisive and without hesitation, defend the option of free association/independence against statehood,” he said.
After reiterating his stance that “statehood is a phantom,” Berríos stated that “the essential part in the process is that the colony is not an option in this plebiscite. Now it corresponds to patriotic forces to fight the option for statehood.”
He maintained that the Central Committee is conscious that the referendum creates the circumstances for an important confluence between commonwealth and pro-independence advocates, which is why it authorized the party’s leadership to contact other groups and individuals from both ideologies in order to tackle the option for statehood.
“A vote for free association (commonwealth) or independence is the vote that counts to fight Statehood, affirm Puerto Rican nationality, repudiate the [Fiscal Oversight and] Management Board, and demand sovereignty for our people. Crossing our arms, remaining in the benches, and not participating would be to allow the NPP and annexationists to dispatch alone with the big spoon, creating both in the United States and in an international level the false notion that there aren’t people in Puerto Rico who affirm the right of Puerto Ricans to govern in their own motherland,” he said.
Berríos mentioned that the collective understands that Puerto Rico’s decolonization supposes a political negotiation with Congress, although he noted that there is no reason to assume that the U.S. Justice Secretary is interested or committed to decolonize Puerto Rico.
“On the contrary, if colonialism in Puerto Rico has prevailed until the present is because it has been the will of the United States. Meanwhile, part of the Popular [Democratic] Party’s (PDP) leadership has anticipated that they will look to the federal Justice secretary to incorporate the territorial status option in the referendum, to incorporate the colony,” he warned.
Thus, the PIP leader observed that there is the possibility that the Justice Secretary may demand to include the territorial option under any of its potential names, be it the commonwealth, improved commonwealth, developed commonwealth, or any other.
“This possible opinion of the Justice Secretary, boosted by local colonialists, would be completely opposite to any process of decolonization and the will of our people in the 2012 plebiscite repudiating the current territorial status,” he said.
Upon this, the former senator challenged the NPP leadership to advance the plebiscite while excluding any territorial alternative, even if the Justice Secretary says otherwise. “You can’t sell our people’s dignity and will to decolonize […] We must stand up to decolonize our motherland.”
He denounced that “if the NPP leadership accepted such a humiliation from the federal Justice secretary, they would have transformed into the same colonialists they claim to fight against. Time and actions will tell.”
Last Friday Governor Ricardo Rosselló signed the Law for the Immediate Decolonization of Puerto Rico, formerly senate Bill 51, affirming it will set the path toward decolonization.
Meanwhile PDP leaders Rafael Hernández Colón and Aníbal Acevedo Vilá announced they will take their complaints to Washington, D.C. in order to include the commonwealth option in the status referendum.
During the legislative process, PDP legislators proposed the improved and sovereign commonwealth options, but they weren’t considered. However, despite Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz’s repeated requests, they didn’t present the definitions for their status proposals.