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'Disenfranchisement' Spells "Representative Democracy?"

April 12, 2000
Copyright © 2000 THE SAN JUAN STAR. All Rights Reserved.

Dear Editor:

Ronald Walker just doesn’t get it. (Viewpoint, April 2). Congress has never wavered from the position that under "Commonwealth Status" the relationship between the U.S. and Puerto Rico was anything but territorial in nature and that Congress retained authority and responsibility under the territorial clause of the US Constitution to determine the ultimate disposition of the political status of Puerto Rico. Muñoz recognized and accepted this when he testified at the time Congress was considering granting us a full measure of local self-government, when he said that Commonwealth status did not change the territorial status of Puerto Rico. This reality was most recently reaffirmed in the letter from the chairman of the four committees with direct jurisdiction over Puerto Rico dated April 5, 2000 when they stated that Puerto Rico remained "subject in all matters to the supremacy of Federal Laws promulgated by Congress in which they [the people of Puerto Rico] have no voting representation". It is precisely because we are subject to all laws adopted by a Congress where we have no voting participation that makes the relationship colonial in nature. It is this reality that is unacceptable and makes it necessary to end our territorial status, a status that was rejected overwhelmingly by the voters in the 1998 local plebiscite when it received less than 1,000 votes. There are only two paths out of this colonial relationship: statehood or independence/free association. There can be no dignity in a relationship that keeps us disenfranchised.

There are those, however, like Mr. Walker who evidently believe that window dressing can somehow cure or obscure this colonial relationship. If it took former Chief Justice José Trias Monge about 50 years to admit that this is the case, why should we be surprised that even former "senior staffers" turn a blind eye to this reality. It is not the Congress who has perpetrated a "monumental hoax" on the residents of Puerto Rico, but rather spin-doctors like Walker who over the years have tried to make us believe that "disenfranchisement" spells "representative democracy".


Herbert W. Brown III
Citizens’ Educational Foundation

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