San Juan, Puerto Rico (January 4, 2017) The monitoring committee to the issues of status of the Popular Democratic Party announced today that in light of the annexationist strategy initiated by the government of Ricardo Rosselló, the PDP will act as an unifying agent of all the Puerto Rican and anti-statehood forces, so that in the United States and Puerto Rico, it will be known that there is no mandate for statehood and that this alternative is bad for Puerto Rico and bad for the United States.
“The people of Puerto Rico have never voted to ask for statehood. That was demonstrated in the 2012 plebiscite when statehood only received 44% of the votes cast in the polls and even Governor Rosselló said that the elections this past November were plebiscitary” said in a joint statement former governor Aníbal Acevedo Vila, senator and ex-president of the Senate Eduardo Bhatia; representative Luis Vega Ramos and José Alfredo Hernández Mayoral, Esq.
The members of the committee appointed by the governing board of the PDP to follow up on status issues in the United States and in Puerto Rico pointed out that the election of Rosselló with only 42% of the votes cast in the past general election is yet another clear indication that the new governor does not have a mandate from the majority of the people of Puerto Rico in favor of statehood.
“On the contrary, every time Puerto Ricans have expressed themselves at the polls, the majority has voted against statehood and we will let the congressman and senators know this,” the group added in their joint statement.
The statements from the PDP group are in responses to the announcements made by Governor Rosselló to implement through local legislation the so called Tennessee Plan, “designating” five congressmen and two senators “to represent the State of Puerto Rico”; and to the efforts from the Resident Commissioner in Washington, Jennifer Gonzalez to present federal legislation to hold a plebiscite of statehood versus independence for Puerto Rico to be admitted as the 51st state. They explained that Tennessee was admitted as a state in 1796 when George Washington was still president and the petition was made after residents approved statehood with more that 70% of votes. “The parallels between Tennessee in 1796 and Puerto Rico today are none”, they stated.
“The petition for admission as a state, and the “designation” of congressmen to go to the federal capital, are not only antidemocratic actions, but completely contrary to the economic development needs that Puerto Rico has. All the recent and serious economic studies, including the latest from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), conclude that statehood will impose a greater economic burden and a massive loss of jobs”, said the statement, adding that “asking for statehood during this time of economic crisis and without a real mandate, is an insane proposition.”
The members of the committee pointed out that at this time in the federal capital, Puerto Rico has to fight to obtain sufficient funds to avoid the collapse of the health care system and for new incentives for economic development, including the exclusion of the application of the law of cabotage, with the aggravating circumstance that such dealings must be done under an ultra-conservative republican congress and a new United States president –Donald Trump- who made no commitment to Puerto Rico during his campaign, much less with statehood.
On the Tennessee Plan, an antiquated mechanism used in the XVIII Century, the popular democratic leaders indicated that it’s “doubly anti-democratic”. Not only is there no mandate for this, they affirmed, but Governor Rosselló has said that he will “designate” the “congressmen” that will travel to Washington to “represent the State of Puerto Rico” when the United States constitution clearly states that congressmen are “chosen by the people”. “ To intend to designate them instead of electing them is another mockery from the new governor to all Puerto Ricans,” they warned.
“At this time when Governor Rosselló has said that there is no money for the payroll of public employees or for pensions to our retirees, he must speak with clarity about how much it will cost to implement this Tennessee Plan and about who and how they will pay for the trips and lodgings of these supposed congressmen,” they inquired.
The popular democratic group asserted that the most absurd and contradictory thing of the proposal of Governor Rosselló Nevares and the Resident Commissioner to push what appears to be a “Frenzy Plan”, is that at the same time that the new government is asking for Puerto Rico to be admitted as a state and intends to send seven people to Washington in order to achieve this, they are talking about another criollo plebiscite of statehood vs. independence to exclude those of us who advocate a relationship of dignified association with the United States”. “The statehood vs independence plebiscite is not part of the government plan of the PNP, so they lack an electoral mandate to carry it out,” they said.