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The San Juan Star

On Status: Who's Telling What To Whom?

Viewpoint Sunday

By JM Garcia Passalaqua

April 4, 1999
©Copyright 1999 The San Juan Star

Voters may want Sila Calderon and no status for 2000. But ... compare the following two statements, and learn:

  1. "Since 1952, Puerto Rico has exercised local self-government under the sovereignty of the United States and subject to the provisions of the Constitution of the United States and other Federal laws applicable to Puerto Rico."

  2. "The present commonwealth relationship was created in 1952... the unpopular colonial regime was replaced by a new form of government... that gave us sovereignty similar to that of a state, but with broader control over local affairs under the terms of a compact."

Which is true? Who is telling to whom? Read on.

The first statement was approved unanimously by the United States Senate in Senate Resolution 279 of the 105th Congress, 2nd Session, on Sept. 15, 1998. It was prompted by 11 senators: Murkowski, Dashle, Graham, Craig, D'Amato, Torricelli, Domenici, Hatch, Stevens, Lieberman, and Lautenberg. One tenth of the body.

The second statement was made, alone by San Juan Mayor Sila Calderon de Krantz in a speech before the Annual Conference of the Puerto Rico-Hispanic Task Force of the New York State Assembly on March 13. San Juan versus Washington... see?

This story began on Sunday, Feb. 21. The governing board of the Popular Democratic Party met on that day, and surrendered all power to Sila Calderon. The next day, Jose Hernandez Mayoral announced his availability for the post of resident commissioner in Washington, while party President Anibal Acevedo Vila was making calls to let it be known that Sila's candidate was Jose Ortiz Daliot. Behind it all were the opening salvos of a royal battle between "immobilists" and "activist" on the status issue. They may deny it, but that is all that it is.

Then came the speech in New York, two weeks later. It inaugurated what Bob Friedman has so aptly labeled the "Sila-Melo Doctrine" (Star, March 22) and what I prefer to call the ideology of the "happy colonials." It states, clearly and for the record, that our female denizens are more concerned about "status of Caimito" (Caimito being one of our rural barrios that is doing ok) than about the colonial status of Puerto Rico, so precisely defined by the United States Senate in September, 1998.

"Him or me" was the dramatic statement against Hernandez Mayoral on her behalf by Calderon's aide Victor Ricera (a young, former autonomist), made on March 18 (Star, March, 19) Besides, the tone of the statement presaged totalitarianism in the Popular Democratic Party under its new leader, less than a moth after her impromptu installation by the Governing Board.

However the mayor's finances "need objective analysis" (Star, March 21), Not considering what the business and ethical difficulties of the Calderon/Kranz couple may or may not be, Hernandez Mayoral told her publicly in no uncertain terms that the candidacies for Resident Commissioner will the picked "by the people" in an open primary, such as the one that launched her in the party three years ago (Star March 21)

Plus, autonomist Ponce Mayor Rafael Cordero Santiago told her publicly that "she is not" the party's president, and thus cannot act as such. Good for them both, while Acevedo Vila asked for "discipline" in the PDP ranks. What?

Why is this royal battle of candidacies so important?

Exit polls published after the plebiscite show only 29% of the voters want to "keep thing as they are" (Star March24). Those are the "happy colonials." Those are the Caimito lovers. Those are Sila's. The rest may be wary of status, but they do not have mentality of the "happy colonials." Understand that.

However, Calderon has transformed 29 percent into a majority, by displacing party president Anibal Acevedo Vila in Washington. In a week-long whirlwind tour, with daily press releases, the blitzkrieg of the happy colonials was complete. These were the exact headlines on March 12 and 13.

"Lots Discards Touching Status Now" (photo with a smiling Sila); "Sila and Lott Coincide;" "Hastert Sympathizes with Commonwealth Status" (photo of smiling Sila with Rep. Roger Wicker of Mississippi); "Sila in Action: Republicans Support Commonwealth Status," "Hastert Enchanted by Sila" (photos of both). It was so beautiful. But... US Senate is intent on getting an answer. On May 6, under a unanimous mandate of the hole, Sen. Murkowski will put Sila's speech on the record, and will discuss it.

Who is right? The United Sates Senate or the mayor of San Juan" How can any political party in Puerto Rico, with the millennium almost here, nominate such an anachronism for any position?

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