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Latino Daily News

Thursday July 25, 2013

PUERTO RICO: Biggest Threat to Statehood Coming from Within

PUERTO RICO: Biggest Threat to Statehood Coming from Within

Photo: Puerto Rico Statehood

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Many Puerto Ricans were convinced the greatest opposition to statehood would come from U.S. congressmen.

They were wrong.

The New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico, a political party that advocates for Puerto Rico’s admission to the United States as the 51st state, recently filed a lawsuit against the territory’s governor, Alejandro García Padilla, for allegedly trying to dissuade U.S. lawmakers from recognizing its statehood.

The lawsuit claims that both Padilla and the executive director of Federal Affairs, Eugenio Hernandez Mayoral, “have been performing government procedures with public funds, which go against the sovereign people.”

The smoking gun is a letter written on the governor’s letterhead dated May 29 and addressed to members of the U.S. House of Representatives. In it, Padilla wrote that statehood isn’t the way to go. He also references using public money to mount a campaign to sway the vote to his line of thinking.

Last November, Puerto Rican voters chose statehood by a slim margin, but it’s up to American lawmakers to decide that issue. Now controversy swirls around the content, language and design of the ballot questions.

According to the State Elections Commission, Puerto Rican voters were asked two questions: whether they wanted to continue Puerto Rico’s territorial status and to indicate the political status they preferred from three possibilities: statehood, independence, or a sovereign nation.  Fifty-four percent voted no on the first question. Those who answered the second question overwhelmingly chose statehood.

Maurice Ferre, a former Miami mayor and long time supporter of statehood, agreed the ayes in the first question were not convincing enough to motivate the U.S. government to put another star on its flag.

To some, the lack of an overwhelming majority, even a little ambiguity, shouldn’t be a license to spend public money.