• The San Juan Daily Star

Governor rules out repealing statehood delegates/lobbyists law

By John McPhaul


Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia on Thursday completely ruled out repealing the law creating the delegates/lobbyists for statehood, as proposed by one of those delegates, Elizabeth Torres.

“There is no basis for complaining. Everyone has to do what the law requires,” Pierluisi said at a press conference. “Anyone who aspired to a congressional delegate position under that law must comply with that law. And it is not about complaining, it is about acting.”

The governor said he has not read the report submitted by Torres. He indicated that she will be evaluated to verify that she has fulfilled her functions.

“If not, we will go to all the forums that are necessary if we determine that there has been a violation of the law,” Pierluisi said.

On Wednesday, Torres sent the governor her first performance report, in which she asked the governor to dissolve the law that created the delegates/lobbyists for statehood.

In the case of the steps that former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares has taken in Washington, D.C. in favor of statehood, Pierluisi said “from what I have seen in the media there is no doubt that he has taken steps in favor of statehood.”

Earlier on Thursday, San Sebastián Mayor Javier Jiménez Pérez said the group of congressional delegates sent to Washington, D.C. to lobby for statehood should be eliminated because he believes that they lack the credibility to lobby in the United States Congress.

In this way, the mayor agreed with Torres, who in her performance report on Wednesday also ranted against the New Progressive Party (NPP) and called the pro-statehood delegation effort “an enchantment.”

The mayor said that in the special election in May in which six delegates were chosen to push for statehood on Capitol Hill, “the statehood people were not identified” and that those elected do not have the experience to appear before the United States Congress. The officials elected in May were Torres, former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares, Melinda Romero Donelly, Zoraida Buxó, Roberto Lefranc Fortuño, and former Ponce Mayor María “Mayita” Meléndez Altieri.

“The statehood people were not identified with these people so that they could raise their voices to advance statehood,” Jiménez said in an interview with NotiUno. “Through the legislative process that was carried out, which was to select two people for the Senate and four for Congress [the House of Representatives], it received the rejection of 86% of the people who voted for statehood in November 2020. They did not participate in that special election, since they did not feel identified with these people.”

The San Sebastián mayor criticized the architects of the congressional lobbying effort for not presenting a plan to be executed either.

“What was done was, [the delegation] was chosen and it was sent there,” he said. “Seeing the ex-governor [Rosselló Nevares] with a handwritten banner, what it produces is shame. Do you think that in this way any ideal or any change in status can be achieved? Of course not. And that is what it reflects, that there is no plan already prepared to be able to advance the statehood ideal. That group is not going anywhere.”

He argued that if the group of delegates is not efficient, it should be eliminated because it is plain to see that it will not have results as it is organized and because its members do not have political experience.

“Well, I would tell you that this group is not going to have any results, much less when there is no plan that has been drawn up,” the NPP leader said. “Someone was telling me that they hadn’t even entered Congress yet. imagine. Good for you to be in there, you have to have experience, but they are people who do not have the slightest experience in anything political. The same ex-governor, when he goes there, a congressman is going to say, ‘But weren’t you the one that the people threw out two years ago and who has been the only one who has resigned as governor of Puerto Rico?’”

Jiménez asserted that the NPP lost a great opportunity to advance the island’s political status due to “not doing what it had to do when this process to select these delegates began.”