Para ver este documento en español, oprima aquí.


White House: "None Of The Above" Win Not A Clear Status Choice

Vote Said To Give Little Guidance On Ultimate Outcome

by Robert Friedman

February 21, 1999
©Copyright 1999 The San Juan Star

Washington -- The White House indicated Saturday that the "none of the above" winning vote in the Dec. 13 island plebiscite has little or no meaning for the ultimate outcome of Puerto Rico's political future.

"'None of the above' is not an affirmative statement on status that helps move the process forward," said Fred Du Val, deputy assistant to the president. "It doesn't give us guidance" for the island's status choice.

Du Val said that while the Puerto Rico run plebiscite was a "valid" election, the none of the above choice was "not a status option" and its majority vote left the island's status wishes unclear.

The White House and Gov. Rossello were in sync Saturday on the confusion wrought by the Dec. 13 plebiscite results.

Rossello threw the status ball into Washington's court, asserting that it was now up to Congress and the president to find a way to help Puerto Rico further decide its political future. Congress, Rossello said, has the responsibility to "actively take part" moving the process along.

The governor said he will present the plebiscite results Monday to President Clinton. He will meet privately with the president after he, and others governors attending the National Governors Association meeting here, visit Clinton at the white House.

Rossello would not specify what, exactly, he would tell Clinton regarding the result of the Dec. 13 vote. "You'll know after I've told the president," he said.

The governor and Du Val spoke separately to reporters Saturday at a Democratic Governors Association meeting.

Rossello acknowledged that "in retrospect" putting the none of the above choice on the ballot "caused a lot of confusion, because it was a vote against, but not in favor of anything."

Still, according to the governor, who will also present the status vote results to Congress, the plebiscite did show that "99 percent of Puerto Rico is in favor of a status change."

While none of the above drew a majority 50.3 percent of the status vote, 46.5 percent vote for statehood, while less than 1 percent chose the current commonwealth option. But that was because the Popular Democratic Party urged its followers to cast ballots in the none of the above column.

The PPD strongly objected to the way commonwealth was defined in the Young bill, which was used as a model for the island plebiscite in December. The "populares" insisted the bill denigrated the current US-Puerto Rico relationship by maintaining that commonwealth changed nothing in the island's territorial standing, which gives Congress full powers over Puerto Rico affairs.

Du Val acknowledged that the island status legislation introduced last year by Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska and approved by the House before it died in the Senate, might need to be "updated" before a new measure is introduced into Congress. The Young Bill was a "good starting point," but the Clinton administration was now "open" to changes in the legislation that could result in a greater consensus, the presidential assistant said.

"We'll certainly entertain" the possibility of a new legislation, said Du Val, who is also deputy director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.

"What must be present is honest, realistic choices," he said, adding: "The administration is open to instructions on how the bill should be updated."

Rossello, meanwhile, said that Congress must "step in and recognize its responsibility" because "local politics distorts the discussion and decision on status. We have to make sure that Congress responds" with clear status choices for island voters, the governor said.

The governor will participate in an NGA workshop today in the role of fathers in curbing drug use in the family.

Self-Determination Legislation | Puerto Rico Herald Home
Newsstand | Puerto Rico | U.S. Government | Archives
Search | Mailing List | Contact Us | Feedback