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Puerto Rico gov’s office alleges minority party leaders contradict themselves

By on June 14, 2017

SAN JUAN – While leaders from the Puerto Rican Independence (PIP) and Popular Democratic (PDP) parties insist that their boycott triumphed over the June 11 political-status referendum, La Fortaleza Public Affairs Secretary Ramón Rosario presented news clippings to contradict the politicians’ expressions.

The official said that PDP and PIP leaders have supported that the people express themselves by voting and demanded the ballots’ results be respected, regardless of electoral participation, but now refute Sunday’s vote.

Public Affairs Secretary Ramón Rosario called out the PDP and PIP for dismissing the results of Sunday’s political-status referendum. (Cindy Burgos/CB)

Rosario insisted that the results of the plebiscite, which had the lowest voter turnout in decades—23 percent of the electorate—and in which statehood triumphed with 97% of votes cast, are having an effect in the United States, prompting even state legislatures to back Puerto Rico’s admission as the 51st state of the Union.

“You have listened to claims from the opposition that are incorrect and that they know are incorrect regarding participation [in the plebiscite],” Rosario said during a press conference in La Fortaleza.

He went on to say that although former Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, of the PDP, said mere days ago that the referendum was a whim of the executive branch and emphasized the boycott’s triumph, in 2005 he said that “in a democracy, what counts are the votes and whoever wants to express themselves has to go out to vote,” in reference to the plebiscite for unicameralism. Back then, Acevedo Vilá was “satisfied” with the 2005 referendum’s voter turnout of  22.3 percent.

Rosario argued that PDP President Héctor Ferrer also contradicts himself by supporting the boycott to last Sunday’s referendum, when back in 2005, when he was a representative, he was willing to “obey the will of the people” on the unicameralism plebiscite.

Although the option for only one legislative chamber won, electoral results weren’t accepted by any of the Legislative Assemblies that have operated until the present day, because that referendum was tied to the presentation of an additional legislation and a second referendum that never took place.

PDP says White House not addressing Puerto Rico referendum results

The Public Affairs secretary said that Rubén Berríos and María de Lourdes Santiago, the PIP president and electoral commissioner, respectively, demanded that the results of the unicameralism vote be respected, but now maintain that the status referendum lacks validity.

The pro-independence leaders “have even expressed not only that the vote counts and that those who don’t go to the polls don’t count for democratic purposes, but that back in 2005 they were willing to go to court to defend the people’s mandate,” Rosario said.

Moreover, the official said that the Illinois House of Representatives issued a resolution to endorse “supporting statehood for Puerto Rico.” “It’s the first time a state legislature formally expresses itself on the problem of Puerto Rico’s status,” he said.

In Florida, Sen. Víctor Torres and Rep. John Cortés “will be backing and promoting support” for statehood for Puerto Rico.

Regarding turnout for the referendum, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said Sunday that it was affected because it wasn’t an election year and the population’s decline. Despite this, he insisted that the “votes are what will dictate the steps to follow; in this case, a significant majority determined we would reject the colony and favor statehood.”

The governor was flying Wednesday to Washington, D.C. to present the results before the White House and Congress.

Puerto Rico governor heads to DC to announce referendum results

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