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Serrano Files Status Plebiscite Bill; PDP Objects To It

April 13, 2000
Copyright © 2000 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — U.S. Congress Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) on Wednesday filed a bill, titled "Puerto Rico Decolonization Act," to enable a referendum for Puerto Ricans to choose between statehood and independence, leaving commonwealth out.

Popular Democratic Party members said the legislation was "dead in the water," because Congress would have no time or inclination to approve it.

House Minority Leader Anibal Acevedo Vila, who is the PDP’s candidate for resident commissioner, said Serrano knows his measure won’t be approved.

"I think the Puerto Rican people demand more seriousness in solving the issue of status," Acevedo Vila said. "This is another dead-in-the-water bill that pretends to revive statehood in Washington after the several hard knocks it has received in the past years."

Acevedo Vila said this was similar to the 1998 Young bill, which failed.

PDP Sen. Eudaldo Baez Galib said even Gov. Pedro Rossello has said there is no time for Congress to approve a status bill. He said Rossello and President Clinton were more focused on the financial allocation to Vieques, which has been postponed in the Senate.

Serrano, meanwhile, said those who support commonwealth, known as ELA by its Spanish acronym, would be able to vote for free association, which is included under the sovereignty option. "Within the free association option, they could negotiate whatever they wanted with the U.S., including permanence of U.S. citizenship," Serrano said.

Serrano’s bill also would allow Puerto Ricans living in the U.S. to vote in the proposed plebiscite.

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