Puerto Rican independence supporters march against status referendum
SAN JUAN – A group of at least 10 organizations marched across Hato Rey’s financial sector in favor of Puerto Rico’s independence and in against Sunday’s political-status referendum.
Francisco “Paco” Torres, a representative of the Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario, said that roughly 300 people had gathered, but emphasized that more people have joined since then and predicted participation of up to 500 people.
“I believe we are more combative here, and there are a lot of people. On my way here from Barbosa Avenue, the two polling schools I passed through were empty. The same was true in Barrio Obrero,” Torres said as he compared the march’s numbers with voter turnout.
The referendum established under the Immediate Decolonization Act has been denounced by the island’s political minority parties, which allege the referendum has been “rigged” in favor of statehood over the other two status options, free association / independence and the current commonwealth status. It is the reason why leaders from the Popular Democratic Democratic (PDP) and Puerto Rican Independence (PIP) Parties urged people to boycott the plebiscite.
In light of that decision, the governing New Progressive Party (NPP), which advocates for Puerto Rico’s admission as the 51st U.S. state, stands practically on its own in supporting the referendum, in which voters–regardless of low turnout–are expected to favor statehood.
Moreover, Torres believes that regardless of the referendum’s results, statehood lacks support from the majority of Puerto Ricans.
“I think it has been proven that the people don’t want statehood. This has been ‘statehood, yes or no,’ and the vast majority of people reject statehood,” Torres assured.
The march for independence took off on the Ponce de León Avenue with reports of people wearing masks who spray-painted banks. From there, they will march to the State Elections Commission’s grounds, and then to the federal building on Chardón Avenue.