Ex-CVM candidate rips major-party lawmakers for opting out on election challenge

By John McPhaul

Eva Prados Rodríguez, former Citizen Victory Movement (CVM) candidate for the San Juan District 3 seat in the island House of Representatives, charged Wednesday that the decision of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) caucus on Tuesday not to reconsider House Resolution 322, which addresses her request to challenge the certification of the election of Juan Oscar Morales for House District 3, was political and not based on the merits of the case.

Prados Rodríguez described the decision of a sector of the caucus as a “clear act of cowardice and abuse of undemocratic power” by a part of the leadership of the PDP delegation together with the New Progressive Party (NPP) delegation to avoid electoral transparency and similar challenges from legislators sworn in the future.

“As we announced to the country, we asked the speaker of the House of Representatives [Rafael Hernández Montañez] to reconsider the substance of our request to challenge the District 3 election due to the lack of a forum to address our complaint of electoral fraud. Judge Rebecca de León of the Superior Court dismissed our claim confirming that, by constitutional mandate, the only judge of that election was the House of Representatives,” said Prados Rodríguez, who is an attorney, in a written statement. “However, the PDP delegation, in a caucus meeting [on Tuesday], decided not to approve our request for reconsideration, leaving me without a forum, for the first time in the history of these types of processes, in violation of my constitutional rights as a candidate and turning their back on the thousands of residents of San Juan District 3 who doubt the results of that election.”

The former CVM candidate highlighted that not all of the PDP caucus refused to support her request to review the election minutes, a resolution that needed 26 votes in favor to be approved.

“We thank and recognize the 18 representatives of the PDP delegation who gave us their support in the last vote in the legislature and acted in accordance with their constitutional duty, in particular, Orlando Aponte Rosario, Luis Raúl Torres, Ángel Fourquet Cordero, Juan Santiago Nieves, Kebin Maldonado, among others, who have stood firm on the demand,” Prados Rodríguez said. “We cannot say the same of the eight members who have refused, in particular Héctor Ferrer, Ramón Luis Cruz, Roberto Rivera Ruiz de Porras and Edgardo Feliciano, who have refused to fulfill their duty for political-electoral reasons and have sent a clear message of tolerance for electoral fraud when it does not affect someone from their party.”

The human rights activist said “[t]his final decision of the PDP delegation, without giving us the opportunity to present our evidence on irregularities in the District 3 election that changed the result of that election, was not made after a fair analysis of the merits of our claim.”

“What prevailed here was the lack of commitment of leadership of the PDP caucus to electoral transparency and democracy, as has been the constant action of the NPP,” Prados Rodríguez said. “In the end they end up acting the same, defending each other to stay in power; they don’t know how to play fair. They conspire, not against me, but against the people, against the rights of the voters and against democracy itself. However, this does not end here. After this experience, I will continue to fight harder than ever for clean elections, to create spaces and forums where democracy and the will of the people are respected.”

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