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Zoraidita's Bomb

by Luis R. Dávila-Colón
News Analyst
"On Good Authority"

May 16, 1999
Copyright © 1999 EL MUNDO

LAST MAY 6TH, Zoraida Fonalledas appeared at the status hearings at the U.S. Senate and, on behalf of the New Progressive party, she filed an extraordinary, revealing and explosive position paper which, as is now the custom, went "unnoticed" by the press.

Attorney Fonalledas, aside from being a tireless supporter of statehood, is also the national co-delegate of the Puerto Rico Republican Party and one of the rising stars in the firmament of renovations of the NPP.

Together with Miriam Ramirez, both weigh and do more than all of the male republicans together. Brilliant and diplomatic, the co-delegate doesn't beat around the bush. When she expresses herself she is armed to the teeth with ideas, documents and promises of impeccable logic.

Precisely, that was the contribution of her position paper, which was filed with the Congress, duly documented by a survey held in Puerto Rico in April after the plebiscite and which puts an end to the mythology of the triumph of "none of the preceding."

Fonalledas' presentation emphasized that 99% of the country voted against the territorial Commonwealth of Puerto Rico defined by the Congress, and that, therefore, the USA now has the problem of possessing a colony of citizens without representation, without political power, and against the consent of those being governed.

Curiously, as with all radical statehooders, the Republican leader interprets the combined results of the 97% who voted against the separation formulas as an unmistakable and almost unanimous expression in favor of a permanent union and of irrevocable United States citizenship.

These two realities lead her to pose to Senator Murkoswki and company certain simple questions, but which serve as notice to the powers that be, which are: "Is Congress willing to offer permanent union and irrevocable citizenship?

"How can this be achieved according to the United States Constitution?" Zoraidita also challenges Congress to tell the country the truth about whether it has renounced the power of the Territorial Clause as the Popular Democratic Party peddles and proclaims.

Fonalledas asks: "Does a confederation exist between nation and nation? Immediately afterwards, she calls on Congress to end its silence with respect to these questions, "because Puerto Rico cannot send a clearer signal to Congress until Congress sweeps aside a century of confusion, lies, fears, and myths."

Contrary to what the Popular Democratic Party has stated, the survey presented by Zoraida tears to pieces the lie that a vote for the fifth column was a vote for the ELA (the Spanish acronym for the "Commonwealth of Puerto Rico") as it presently stands. Carried out in mid-April by Zogby International for the Puerto Rico Herald -a think tank which publishes on the Internet academic essays on the status- the poll revealed that 40% of those who voted for the fifth column did so as a means to reject the holding of the plebiscite during the Christmas season, immediately after the hurricane, or Governor Rosselló's styles.

Another 37% stated that their vote was aimed at supporting another definition of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico which was not on the ballot. An additional 16% voted for other reasons which had nothing to do with the status formulas. Which means that more than 63% of the votes for the fifth column were votes of protest or alien to the ELA.

To that we must add that, according to Zogby, 42% of the voters in the plebiscite, including 50% of the middle-aged voters, considered "that the options on the ballot were not clear." The poll also reveals that statehood found its weakest items with less than 37% support among middle-aged groups, people over 65, and in the large cities.

Meanwhile, the fifth column was stronger in the urban suburbs and among the affluent with income surpassing $50 thousand. It is interesting to note that in the rural areas and small towns, statehood was stronger than in the metropolitan suburbs and that this ideal has a growing force among the middle class, but has no basis among the wealthy.

More than a majority expressed confusion as to the options of the plebiscite in the demographic groups of middle age, large cities and middle class which traditionally were the bulwarks of Pedro Rosselló's electoral victories.

What is most surprising of Fonalledas' presentation is that the survey corroborated all of the post-electoral conclusions internally and separately made by the NPP and the PDP.

Curiouser still, Fonalledas' position paper came at the invitation of Pedro Rosselló-González who, in publishing this data which points to him as guilty of the statehood defeat, appears to have wanted to assume full responsibility for the results as a vote of repudiation of his strategies and styles.

Zogby's poll reveals several positive details for the NPP. Although the degree of antipathy of PRG has not declined and although Sila Calderón has a much more positive image, in matching them up for the Governorship, Rosselló comes out in front by two points in a virtual tie (43% to 41%).

Sila has her strengths in the urban suburbs and among the wealthy city-dwellers, while Rosselló shows more force and penetration among the middle class, in the small towns, and the rural areas. Among the protestant voters, Rosselló surpasses the support of 52% and Sila surpasses the support of 50% of the voters with income greater than $50 thousand.

On the other hand, for the first time in a long time a survey detects optimism among the electorate. Fifty-two percent believe that things in Puerto Rico are going in the right direction, and in a 3 to 1 proportion, more people say that financially they are better off today than 4 years ago.

This strange positive attitude coupled with the government's work, among a generally pessimistic electorate, could explain why Rosselló is rebounding and recovering opposite Sila.

Even worse for the Popular Democratic Party is the fact that, according to Zogby, more than 55% of the voters indicate that if they are given guarantees of economic improvement, preservation of our culture and language, and the creation of new jobs under statehood, they were be more inclined to favor it. This included 40% of the PDP followers, 70% of those espousing free association, and even 35% of those advocating independence.

What Zoraida Fonalledas left with Congress is a virtual bomb. Pedro Rosselló must be so pleased...

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