Puerto Rico Leaders Agree on Need to Change Political Relations with US
SAN JUAN – In light of the recent opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court, which leaves no doubt about Puerto Rico’s territorial status, there is now consensus within the island’s political leadership on the need to address and make significant changes to the political and legal relations with the United States.
In the case of the People of Puerto Rico v. Sánchez Valle, the top court ruled this week that the commonwealth does not enjoy sufficient sovereignty with regard to the federal double-jeopardy provision, which does not allow for the prosecution of a person twice for the same offense.
For New Progressive Party gubernatorial candidate Ricardo Rosselló, the decision “again demonstrates the fallacy of our current status, and the perceived pillars of the commonwealth have collapsed…. It is once again shown that we live in a colony.”
“It is time to unite in calling for the validation of the people’s will, shown at the ballot box, and attain the only status option that guarantees the same treatment as other American citizens: Statehood. Along with my ticket companion, Jenniffer González, we will take affirmative steps such as filing an Admission Act in January 2017 and put into action a Tennessee Plan to once and for all achieve the definitive solution to the status problem,” Rosselló added.
David Bernier, the Popular Democratic Party’s (PDP) candidate for governor, said the decision alters his ideological anchor to the commonwealth status. “The decision requires an urgent review of the structure of the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States,” he said.
Meanwhile, the gubernatorial candidate of the Puerto Rican Independence Party, María de Lourdes Santiago, whose party has challenged the commonwealth status since its creation, said that having “the colony been laid bare, it is up to all us political leaders in Puerto Rico to do our part.”
“My invitation, therefore, to PDP candidate David Bernier, who was waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to give him permission to speak about the the status issue, is to assume his responsibility in addressing the colonial situation of Puerto Rico and join the genuine decolonization efforts that should guide the future of our country,” the pro-independence leader added.
“This decision confirms what many have always said, that the commonwealth remains a colonial relationship, that [the U.S. Congress] has plenary powers over Puerto Rico and what [the decision] does is increase urgency of the decolonization of Puerto Rico,” said gubernatorial candidate Rafael Bernabe, of the Working People’s Party, which is not usually driven by the status issue. “We will be promoting an informed and binding decolonization process as soon as possible,” he added.
Alexandra Lúgaro, an independent gubernatorial candidate for the Nov. 8 election, said many people in Puerto Rico will use the court’s decision as a “status red flag because it reaffirms our colonial situation.”
“However,” she added, “people should not be deluded by the issue of status and should understand that moving toward statehood or independence will not be viable until we develop our economy and strengthen education. That should be the priority.”
The other independent candidate for governor, Manuel Cidre, said: “This decision, together with the federal fiscal control board, clearly shows that the power over Puerto Rico lies with the federal congress, which forces us to reflect on the next steps to take to continue addressing the issue of the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States.
“It is urgent all of us candidates for governor sit down at the same table immediately to address the clear message the federal authorities are sending us. A loud and clear message we must discuss, and do things differently.”