Puerto Rico is struggling, yet millions were wasted on a vote for statehood when the wording on the ballots was not approved.
The opposition denounces silence about the consultation
It was never revealed that a second review of the plebiscite definitions required postponing the event
Saturday, June 10, 2017 – 9:05 AM
New York – According to the political opposition, governor Ricardo Rosselló deceived the people by not revealing that since April he knew that the Department of Justice of the United States had ruled out a second revision of the status plebiscite, unless the consultation date, due tomorrow, was postponed.
For weeks, the government of the New Progressive Party (NPP) maintained that the approval of the ballot paper and the plebiscite educational campaign –that would have given them access to a federal allocation of $2.5 million-, was pending, even though they were aware of the requirements imposed by the Secretary of Justice of the United States, Jeff Sessions.
Since –at least- the meeting that Rosselló kept on April 25th with the then interim secretary, Jesse Panuccio, the federal Department of Justice informed him that there wouldn’t be a second review of the status definitions and the State Elections Commission campaign, unless the referendum was postponed, verified yesterday two sources in Washington.
Besides, since April 27th, it was no longer possible to comply with the language imposed by the federal law that was boosted by the then Resident Commissioner in Washington, Pedro Pierluisi, and the democratic congressman José Serrano, because the federal justice needed 45 days to disburse the $2.5 million, after certifying the ballot paper and the plebiscite campaign.
By May 10th, the government chief of staff, William Villafañe, had recognized to El Nuevo Día that they would not wait to know if the status options of the plebiscite amended law complied with the constitutional, legal and public policy rules of the federal government. They never specified that the review depended on the delay of the plebiscite.
“They have shamelessly lied to the Commonwealth and its statists troops, to whom they lead to vote under false information and expectations”, said the president of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), Héctor Ferrer.
Fernando Martín, executive president of the Puerto Rican Independence Party, considered it painful that, all things considered, the NPP “fooled itself”.
“Our administration identified that the inner conflicts of the federal Department of Justice may delay the resolution of the Puerto Rican status referendum even more, so the governor decided to maintain the original date of the plebiscite –June 11th- so that the people have the opportunity to decide their future and, in so doing, emerge from the crisis”, claimed yesterday the Public Affairs Secretary of La Fortaleza, Ramón Rosario.
Ferrer, ex-representative and former candidate to Resident commissioner, declared, after holding meetings in Washington, that Rosselló’s denial to seek the federal executive support can be explained by the interest in holding the referendum before the details of the next Puerto Rican budget’s “fiscal measures that sum up to $924 million” are known.
According to Martín, the Department of Justice of the United States looked for an excuse to “get out” of the commitment to approve the referendum. However, he considered that Rosselló and the leadership of the NPP have lost the opportunity to challenge the federal government in their statehood claim. With that in mind, he claimed that the “humiliation” of having to place the current territorial status in the referendum again, after it was rejected in the plebiscite of 2012, “was in exchange for nothing”.