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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Statehood advocate says status vote is ill-advised

Gregorio Igartúa

By The Star Staff

Leading statehood advocate Gregorio Igartúa said Tuesday that the proposed status vote convened by Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia on election day in November will hurt Puerto Rico’s cause to become a state and may only serve to wake up opposition parties.

The governor, in an executive order issued on Monday afternoon, convened a status vote offering voters the opportunity to choose one of the three non-colonial and non-territorial alternatives that were included in the federal bill H.R. 8393, known as the “Puerto Rico Status Act,” which was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives in December 2022. The status alternatives are statehood, independence and sovereignty in free association with the United States.

Igartúa said that in 2012, then-Gov. Luis Fortuño considered holding a plebiscite on election day. The vote served to wake up the leadership of the pro-commonwealth Popular Democratic Party (PDP) and the governor lost the election.

“The truth is that several plebiscites have been held, all won by the statehood movement but without any results in Congress,” the attorney said. “We do not vote in federal elections. So it begs to ask, Why haven’t we moved toward statehood? There are several reasons. The viability of a plebiscite is questionable for statehooders.”

Igartúa said any status vote must start with the premise of what Puerto Rico is now. He said it is discriminatory to expose islanders to a status vote that contains the alternative of Puerto Rico becoming a republic.

“The free association alternative proposed by the PDP contains terms that are unknown and that the United States may not grant,” he said.

Igartúa believes Puerto Rico should focus on becoming an incorporated territory in transit to statehood.

The governor maintained that the executive order contains the authoritative text of the definitions of the three status options in three congressional bills so that they can be widely examined, studied and discussed prior to consultation. Likewise, the ballot will contain the same text, in Spanish and English, so that each voter can read it and choose an option on the day of the consultation.

“In this way, our rights as American citizens to demand our self-determination through direct voting and without intermediaries are asserted,” he said.

Pierluisi said the current colonial status, in which the U.S. Congress has almost absolute power over the island under the territorial clause of the U.S. Constitution, negatively impacts every Puerto Rican man and woman who lives in Puerto Rico.

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1 Comment

Peter Fonseca
Peter Fonseca
Jul 03

As the article states, Puerto Ricans have voted many times on the question of statehood. These repeated votes only serve to delay and complicate what should be the only viable change in status: statehood.

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