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Author Topic: Puerto Rico- moving towards statehood?  (Read 7628 times)
RG Fritz
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« on: November 06, 2004, 10:39:21 am »
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Not sure where this should be posted....

It appears the New Progressive Party in Puerto Rico, which favors statehood for the commmonwealth, has made some major gains in the last election.  The party has gained control of both houses of the legislature, as well as the commonwealth's nonvoting respresentative in congress.  The NPP appears to have narrowly lost the gubernatorial election, although the election is close enough to mandate a recount.

A Challenged Election & Uncertain Future for Puerto Rico
 November 5, 2004- Copyright © 2004 PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.

For the last several days, Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for Governor of Puerto Rico -- and preliminarily certified winner of the office for the term beginning in January of 2005 -- has been taking on the role of an unambiguously victorious candidate, even though it is possible that his razor-thin winning plurality of votes could be changed after an official recount is finished. It is to begin on Monday and could take a month to conclude.

Meanwhile, Acevedo Vilá’s rival -- NPP ex-Governor Pedro Rosselló and, so far, losing candidate for a term to replace PDP outgoing Governor Sila Calderón – disputes the fact that he actually is behind in the voting. In a press conference held yesterday, he cited the some 14,000 regular votes which, as of Wednesday afternoon had yet to be counted and the some 6000 votes that were cast but protested for one reason or another. By the NPP’s calculation, a sufficient number of these ballots are likely to go for Rosselló, resulting in a total that could exceed that of Acevedo Vilá, even before the official recount is begun.

His spokesperson and campaign director, Frances Rodríguez, was highly critical of Acevedo Vilá for speaking about a "transition" before the official recount is complete. One NPP official, former senator Charlie Rodríguez, accused him of attempting a "democratic coup d’etat."

At a San Juan press conference on Wednesday, Acevedo announced that he is ready to assume the duties of the island’s Chief Executive and that he is trying to reach out to newly elected members of the rival New Progressive Party (NPP), asking them to accept a "patriotic union" across party lines for the good of the island.

The results of Tuesday’s voting established both houses of Puerto Rico’s next legislature in the firm control of the NPP. The Party won 18 seats in the 27-member Senate and 34 in the 51-member House, according to the Elections Commission’s count. A majority of island municipalities remained with or changed hands to NPP candidates. Also in control of the NPP is the post of Resident Commissioner, the island’s non-voting representative in the U.S. House of Representatives. In spite of the recount, PDP candidate Roberto Pratts on Wednesday conceded victory to his NPP rival Luis Fortuño, saying that he did not wish any longer to "keep the island in suspense."

At his press conference, Acevedo Vilá proclaimed that "the people have given the mandate (of governor) to me." He also said that he had spoken by telephone with the NPP winning candidate for the post of Resident Commissioner, Luis Fortuño, with whom he would serve as one of the two top elected officials of Puerto Rico, should his narrow lead in the vote count (0.2%) be sustained by the new vote count. He reported that he had asked the Resident Commissioner Elect for cooperation in the transition phase leading up to the assumption of powers for the newly elected officials, now just two months away.

In spite of the Rosselló campaign protests, the Provisional Governor-Elect has already begun to form a transition team.

The recount is required by law should the voting margin between candidates be less than 0.5%. As the count stood when the Elections Commission declared Acevedo Vilá the provisional winner, he had 953,459 (48.38%) votes island-wide and Pedro Rosselló 949,579 (48.18%). The Puerto Rico Independence Party (PIP) candidate for Governor, Ruben Berríos, polled only 52,660 (2.67%) votes, or less than the 3% minimum number of votes required for a political party to remain official in Puerto Rico.

The interim policy of both candidates seems clear. While Acevedo Vilá is rushing to appear confident and "executive," Pedro Rosselló is putting a "responsible" face on the situation presently existing in Island politics. Through his spokespeople he is saying that Acevedo’s posture is "imprudent" and not in keeping with the very serious crisis that could result from a split government in Puerto Rico.

The implications of such a governing arrangement could have unintended consequences as Puerto Rico seeks solutions for the many issues facing the island and for the territory’s relations with the federal government. With a majority – and perhaps "veto proof" – opposition in the Puerto Rico House and Senate, a PDP governor would have trouble getting legislation passed and appointments confirmed. Likewise, the legislature could see its budgetary priorities ignored.

In Washington, with a political rival sitting in the U.S. Congress, the Governor’s federal agenda could be sabotaged at every turn. Conversely, any initiative of the Resident Commissioner could be blocked by the Government’s Washington lobbyists and by the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFFA), the huge mainland bureaucracy controlled by La Fortaleza.

Shortly after the election, Provisional Governor Elect Aníbal Acevedo Vilá proclaimed that "the people said with their vote that they want a shared government.''


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« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2004, 11:55:29 am »
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Don't want them.
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frenger
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« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2004, 01:13:44 pm »
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God help us all.
Fortunately, the feds have to accept them, which I trust they won't.
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RG Fritz
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« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2004, 02:19:09 pm »
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God help us all.
Fortunately, the feds have to accept them, which I trust they won't.

On what grounds would the federal government deny statehood to Puerto Rico?

If the people there want in, they will get in.
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« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2004, 02:33:03 pm »
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The same grounds on which we would deny Canada statehood, I suppose. Smiley

A better idea would be to give Puerto Rico their independence.
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RG Fritz
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« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2004, 02:37:48 pm »
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Canada is not, and never has been, American territory.  Its residents are not US citizens, and it does not have its sons and daughters serving in the US Military in Iraq and elsewhere, as Puerto Rico does.
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« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2004, 02:42:02 pm »
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It's the culture divide that will keep them out.

Serving in the US Military, while noble, isn't really grounds for admitting a 51st state into the Union. I suspect that you want them to join to help the Democratic party.
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RG Fritz
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« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2004, 02:47:19 pm »
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I asked on what grounds they could be denied statehood, if they applied for it.  Denying statehood to a territory strictly on the basis of "cultural divide" smacks of racism.  And I do think that serving in the military is grounds for granting them statehood, if they want it.  They are US citizens and have been for over half a century.  There is no valid reason for keeping them out, if they want in.
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« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2004, 02:53:57 pm »
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We don't want another culture influencing our politics. By your absurd definition of racism, we'd have to let China enter the Union if they asked.

We'd turn them down, on the basis of a cultural divide, just as we would for Puerto Rico. We have enough Americans who have forgotten the value of freedom as it is.
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RG Fritz
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« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2004, 03:01:19 pm »
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Again- China IS NOT US territory, so the example doesn't apply.  But if we had occupied China for over 100 years, and granted US citizenship to all its residents, and had them in our military, and used the territory for our own military purposes, then I do think we should grant statehood to China if they wanted it.  China, however, would not want it, precisely because of the cultural divide of which you speak.

The "cultural divide" between Puerto Rico and the US is not huge.  Someone who has actually been there may wish to correct or clarify this, but I do think the culture in Puerto Rico more closely resembles that of the US than that of, say, Mexico.  Yes, Puerto Ricans speak Spanish, but they also speak English, and both languages are official on the island.
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« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2004, 03:40:12 pm »
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You said it was racist to not accept them because of a cultural divide. That's the reason we wouldn't accept China. It's the exact same reason.

China is not a US territory, so what? The fact that Puerto Rico is does not change the fact that it's a completely different culture that you just want added to get some more Democrat voters - which is the last thing we need.
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RG Fritz
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« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2004, 03:51:14 pm »
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Like I said, the culture is not "completely different."  I believe the only significant difference is language, and even that is not a big deal since they all speak English, too.

I don't just want them to add Democratic votes.  I'm not sure they would be a solidly Democratic state- they would probably be fairly competitive politically.  As you can see from the article I posted, they are verey competitive in their own party system.  The NPP (Statehood party) would probably become the Republican Party, while the PDP (non-Statehood party) would become the Democratic Party, for the most part.

Whether or not they add votes to one party or another is not and should not be an issue in granting statehood to a territory that applies for it.  I want them in because its the right thing to do.  They are subject to US law and deserve a voice in US Government.  I also think that statehood would provide economic benefits both to the island and to the United States.
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« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2004, 04:28:13 pm »
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you just want added to get some more Democrat voters

not exactly, but that would definately be the case with DC statehood.

Does Peurto Rico even pay taxes?
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Bleeding heart conservative, HTMLdon
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« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2004, 04:29:11 pm »
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Sulfur,

I sympathize with your concern (especially as I am the #1 opponent of DC statehood without Guam statehood Smiley)  but Puerto Rico would probably just add a battleground state, not necessarily a Democratic state.

In fact, Puerto Rico is responsible for adding a new Republican to Congress - if results hold up, Luis Fortuno (PNP) will be the resident commissioner for Puerto Rico and he will certainly join the Republican caucus.  (He's the former Republican national committeeman for Puerto Rico)  He can't cast a vote, but he can debate and stuff.

http://www.luisfortuno.net/
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« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2004, 06:25:35 pm »
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I'd suspect that Puerto Rico would end up as a slightly Democratic-leaning battleground state. I haven't really heard any major arguments against this idea. They're U.S. citizens and I'm pretty sure that they will get in if they want in.

"Cultural influence"? Psh. They'd have, what, six house seats? That's hardly going to vastly change the political landscape.
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« Reply #15 on: November 06, 2004, 06:34:51 pm »
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I just don't know. I'm not necessarily flat out against it... but, I just don't know how "Americanized" Puerto Rico is.
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« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2004, 08:08:12 pm »
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It's hard to say what Puerto Rican politics would look like after statehood.  If the PPD and PNP remain intact, then you would end up with a battleground State with the PNP probably becoming a moderate Republican party.  However, if they don't, then Puerto Rico would become overwhelmingly Democratic.
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« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2004, 10:49:50 pm »
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If the GOP supported statehood for PR and actively got behind it, more than likely the entire PNP would join the GOP.  If we didn't, then only a bare majority of the party would and PR would have a permanent Democratic tilt.
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« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2004, 11:00:25 pm »
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And what could be more American than a results map on their election commission web site!

http://196.42.5.2/principal.aspx?Cargo=GOB&Nivel=MAPA&L2=DS
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« Reply #19 on: November 07, 2004, 10:22:11 pm »
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I just don't know. I'm not necessarily flat out against it... but, I just don't know how "Americanized" Puerto Rico is.

As someone who has been there, I can say it's pretty Americanized. I was only in San Juan, which I assume would be the most Americanized portion of it, but I was certainly able to get around just fine even though I don't speak very much Spanish.
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« Reply #20 on: November 09, 2004, 04:35:59 pm »
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God help us all.
Fortunately, the feds have to accept them, which I trust they won't.
Us?

Hey come on! You're from Portugal. I don't think that the statehood of Puerto Rico would hurt your country very much.

« Last Edit: November 09, 2004, 04:37:38 pm by Huckleberry Finn »Logged

I live in Finland. I vote Conservatives (National Coalition Party) in Finnish elections, but consider myself as moderate Democrat in the USA.

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« Reply #21 on: November 13, 2004, 01:55:29 am »
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If the GOP supported statehood for PR and actively got behind it, more than likely the entire PNP would join the GOP.  If we didn't, then only a bare majority of the party would and PR would have a permanent Democratic tilt.

No need for a GOP/PNP merger. There is a GOP in PR. See http://www.goppr.org/ .
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RG Fritz
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« Reply #22 on: November 13, 2004, 08:06:45 am »
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Here's the latest news on the Governor's race in PR.  This could get interesting!!!!

The Case For An Immediate Recount

by John Marino

November 12, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.

. What seemed like the stupidest idea of post-Election Day Puerto Rico has suddenly become its brightest. Three days into "completing the vote count" from the Election Day governor’s race, it has become increasingly clear that a full vote recount is in order.
When the State Elections Commission preliminarily certified the vote count in the gubernatorial election on Nov. 3, with just over 98 percent of the vote counted, the Popular Democratic Party’s Aníbal Acevedo Vilá had a 3,880 vote lead over New Progressive Party La Fortaleza hopeful Pedro Rosselló.

There were some 30,000 votes, half disputed, left to count, more than an opportunity for the lead to change. It seemed imminently sensible to complete the count and add up the score, before going into a complete recount.

But ever since Election Day, it has been clear that a complete recount would likely take place. That’s because any candidate has the opportunity to ask for one if the margin in the race is 0.5 percent or less of the overall vote, which in this case is 9,000 or 10,000 votes. Given the cards on the table, nobody expects either candidate to win by more than the amount that would grant either of them a recount upon request under local election law.

That’s why the SEC originally announced that it would undertake a recount and a final accounting of Election Day votes at the same time. It seemed absurd at the time, but that was before the current process underway had begun.

Although all three parties had agreed to the plan, the PDP filed a complaint over the weekend citing local election law in arguing that a completion of Election Day returns should be finalized before undertaking a recount. SEC President Aurelio Gracia said he preferred the original plan, but he acceded to the PDP request, saying its arguments were based in law, and he agreed to complete the Election Day count before completing the recount.

Only a handful of precincts in San Juan have been counted since the process recommenced on Monday. That’s because not only are the additional 30,000 ballots being counted, but also polling station tally sheets are being rechecked as part of the process. Since they are apparently rife with mathematical errors, in many cases, ballot boxes are being reopened and recounted. The average rate of voter box recounts ranges from 20 percent to 60 percent of all votes at the polling stations checked so far.

In essence, a partial recount is occurring along with a completion of the Election Day count. About half of those 30,000 ballots are hand-added ballots, and each one has to be verified to ensure that the voter was properly registered and hadn’t voted elsewhere, which is also dragging out the process.

Current estimates put the length of the current process in about three weeks. That means that a complete recount could not begin until late November or early December. While the SEC still believes it will finish the recount before Christmas, it will nonetheless add an extra month to the uncertainty surrounding the current election. Instead of Thanksgiving, Puerto Ricans now likely won’t know who their next governor is until Christmas.

While the PDP has the letter of the law on its side, any moral ground supporting its argument is disintegrating rapidly under its feet.

PDP officials first argued for completing the count on the grounds that Acevedo Vilá’s lead would widen by a sufficient margin that a recount might be unnecessary. They now say that the lead might change day by day, but won’t change by more than a couple hundred votes at the end the tally sheet review. Current trends bear that out (Rosselló had cut into Acevedo Vilá’s lead by about 80 votes after three days of counting.)

Now the PDP mantra is that a recount does not have to take place. It’s not automatic. It has to be requested under the law. And Rosselló does not have to ask for one, PDP officials say. The current tally sheet check is enough. It’s a reliable process.

"Why does the NPP have to push for a recount when this is a much faster and trustworthy process," PDP Electoral Commissioner Gerardo Cruz told reporters. "Now we have opened about 20 percent of the boxes, but a recount would imply opening all of them and re-counting every single vote."

When asked whether the PDP would opt not to ask for a recount should it lose the lead during the tally sheet review, Cruz said: "It's something Acevedo Vila would need to decide."

The NPP has made clear since the night of the election it wants a recount. It’s the party’s right under the law, and it could even be seen as acting negligently to its supporters if it declined to seek one.

All this week, party leaders have been attacking Gracia for his acceptance of the PDP plan to separate the two processes. And they have been threatening to file a federal lawsuit against the SEC in order to halt the review, and get a complete recount started immediately.

The NPP finally filed its suit Thursday, which seeks a halt to the tally sheet review and the transition committee meetings between the Calderón administration and the Acevedo Vilá team. It argues, rightly, a full recount of votes is needed to determine who will be the next governor.

Now the NPP should stop some of its officials, such as electoral commissioner Thomas Rivera Schatz, from launching some of the more vitriolic verbal attacks against Gracia.

It's a political style that about half Puerto Rico, give or take a few, rejected at the polls when they voted against Rosselló. And it's a big part of the reason the NPP has, so far, come up short in the gubernatorial race.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


John Marino, Managing Editor of The San Juan Star, writes the weekly Puerto Rico Report column for the Puerto Rico Herald. He can be reached directly at: Marino@coqui.net
 
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muon2
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« Reply #23 on: November 13, 2004, 09:58:12 am »
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And what could be more American than a results map on their election commission web site!

http://196.42.5.2/principal.aspx?Cargo=GOB&Nivel=MAPA&L2=DS
And the PDP is red and PNP is blue, just like we'd expect on the Atlas. Smiley
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« Reply #24 on: November 13, 2004, 12:56:59 pm »
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No need for a GOP/PNP merger. There is a GOP in PR. See http://www.goppr.org/ .

About all the current GOP organization in PR does is send meaningless delegates to the GOP conventions and funnel contributions to the national party.  If the GOP does not arrange a merger with the PNP, then after statehood the PR House delegation is pretty much guarenteed to align with the Dems since the PDP members will all vote with the Dems and the PNP members would split between the Dems and the GOP.
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My November ballot:
Ervin(I) Gov.
Sellers(D) Lt. Gov.
Hammond(R) Sec. of State
Diggs(D) Att. Gen.
Herbert(D) Comptroller Gen.
Spearman(R) Supt. of Education
DeFelice(American) Commissioner of Agriculture
Hutto(D) US Sen (full)
Scott(R) US Sen (special)
Geddings(Labor) US House SC-2
Quinn(R) SC House District 69
Yes: Amendment 1 (Gen. Assembly may allow and regulate charity raffles)
No: Amendment 2 (end election of the Adjutant General)
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