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Greatest threat to Puerto Rico statehood may come from within

By   /   July 24, 2013  /   News  /   10 Comments

By Marianela Toledo | Florida Watchdog

MIAMI — Many Puerto Ricans were convinced the greatest opposition to statehood would come from U.S. congressmen.

They were wrong.

The New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico, a political party that advocates for Puerto Rico’s admission to the United States as the 51st state, recently filed a lawsuit against the territory’s governor, Alejandro García Padilla, for allegedly trying to dissuade U.S. lawmakers from recognizing its statehood.

The lawsuit claims that both Padilla and the executive director of Federal Affairs, Eugenio Hernandez Mayoral, “have been

LONG WAIT: Puerto Rico has been waiting to change its territorial status for more than 100 years.

LONG WAIT: Puerto Rico has been waiting to change its territorial status for more than 100 years.

performing government procedures with public funds, which go against the sovereign people.”

The smoking gun is a letter written on the governor’s letterhead dated May 29 and addressed to members of the U.S. House of Representatives. In it, Padilla wrote that statehood isn’t the way to go. He also references using public money to mount a campaign to sway the vote to his line of thinking.

Last November, Puerto Rican voters chose statehood by a slim margin, but it’s up to American lawmakers to decide that issue. Now controversy swirls around the content, language and design of the ballot questions.

According to the State Elections Commission, Puerto Rican voters were asked two questions: whether they wanted to continue Puerto Rico’s territorial status and to indicate the political status they preferred from three possibilities: statehood, independence, or a sovereign nation.  Fifty-four percent voted no on the first question. Those who answered the second question overwhelmingly chose statehood.

Maurice Ferre, a former Miami mayor and long time supporter of statehood, agreed the ayes in the first question were not convincing enough to motivate the U.S. government to put another star on its flag.

To some, the lack of an overwhelming majority, even a little ambiguity, shouldn’t be a license to spend public money.

PIERLUISI: Trying to gather support to make Puerto Rico the 51st U.S. state.

“In the November 2012 referendum, the people rejected the current status, so the government is prevented from using public funds to defend it,” explained Pedro Pierluisi, president of the NPP and the U.S. resident commissioner of Puerto Rico.

“The Constitution of Puerto Rico is clear. It requires that there is a public purpose for any spending of our government. Obviously there can’t be a legitimate aim to use public funds to go against the will of the people,” Pierluisi said.

The lawsuit demands that defendants be ordered to “cease and desist to disburse public funds for partisan political purposes.”

Pierluisi has been gathering support from members of both parties to support changing the island to a U.S. state and said that on Aug. 1 he will publicly roll out his proposal outlining strategies to make that happen.

In this video, produced by Estado51PRUSA, lawmakers from both political parties speak out for statehood.

[youtube a1j0IaXJTHg]

On July 17, the Committee on Appropriations of the U.S. House approved the allocation of $2.5 million to help fund another referendum that would include an educational campaign to help inform the voters.

Last June,  Padilla told CNN he doesn’t believe in independence or statehood because “Puerto Rico has a different tax status, because it is not a state. It would then lose this competitive advantage and would make Puerto Rico worse off.”

Contact Marianela Toledo at [email protected] twitter @mtoledoreporter


Marianela formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • Brenda

    It was a RIGGED plebiscite. Puerto Rico is not becoming a state.


    I do not think anyone seriously believes statehood won that plebiscite, maybe those living outside Puerto Rico could end up believing that because they do not have all the facts or are not knowledgeable of puerto rican politics. The results of the plebiscite were:

    25.7% blank ballots (boycott organized by one of the wings of the PPD, they protested saying it was a rigged plebiscite/ the electoral law of Puerto Rico allows blank ballots to be counted)
    24.5% Sovereign commonwealth (one of the sovereignty options backed by the pro sovereignty wing of the PPD)
    4.1% Independence (a second sovereignty option backed by the PIP)
    44.9% US Statehood (backed by the PNP, dropped 2 points from last plebiscite held in 1998).

  • Ferg

    This is great work, Marianela! Puerto Rico seems to receive so little
    coverage, my guess is most people in the United States do not even know
    it is a part of the nation, let alone that it has a sovereignty dilemma.

  • LuisArroyo

    Yeah,it was rigged…By only including statehood,Free Association (Falsely called Soveregn Commonwealth in Spanish/ELA Soberano) ,and Regular independence. The ONLY CONSTITUTIONAL OPTIONS.

    Whats the point of question one,if the Commonwealth had reappeared AGAIN on question 2? It would get DOUBLE VOTES!


    BTW. The slimy PPD only supported “Blanc ballots” AFTER word got out that ELA Soberano was Independence in Free Association! You see,while the PPD called it ELA Soberano, in English,it was called SOVEREIGN FREE ASSOCIATION! Bilingual Puerto Ricans in the states called home to warn their families on the island NOT to vote for it.

    The Seperatist wing of the PPD has taken over the party. Talk of Permanent union has been replaced with “permanent relations”
    Gov. Padilla(see commercial below),Mayor Carmen Yulin,Cox Alomar, Charlie Hernandez(see his smile commervial,where he lies to your face,saying “Free Ssociation is not independence “Dont let “them” confuse you”..,Ferrer, Anibal Acevedo Vila (see commercial below) are all seperatists.

  • LuisArroyo

    The only reason Blanc ballots are counted is because the seditious treasonous PPD is in charge! It adds to the Illusion that PR is a “nation” with its own laws.
    COUNTING BLANC BALLOTS ARE ILLEGAL AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL by ruling of the United States Supreme Court! Because its impossible to guess voter intent.
    Governor Padilla is violating Federal Law by counting Blanc Ballots in desperate attempts to negate Statehood.

  • Sandra Amador

    If it becomes a state, it should be like in all the other states. Paying taxes for everything. They have being taking to many advantages, without paying the price like the rest of us.


    They have a 25% unemployment rate they are in worser shape financially than Detroit sounds like a Demarcate stronghold.

  • Kenneth McClintock

    Two slight problems, Cuqui: First, Puerto Rico’s premier pro-statehood media outlet, WAPA Radio, also promoted blank ballots and it’s highly speculative to estimate how many blank ballots were supporters of the terrtorial status quo and how many were statehooders, and, second, Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court as well as the Supreme Court of the United States have long held that blank votes don’t count because it is impossible to interpret voter intent. Even “when you wish AGAINST a star”, you have to follow the law, Cooky!

  • Kenneth McClintock

    We aspire to no more, no less: full rights and obligations.

  • jon riatmon

    I thought that PR was already a state. Obozo said there were 57 states. Which states was he referring to…?