Monday, July 30, 2007

Puerto Rico's Status: Enhanced Commonwealthers on the Ropers?

Puerto Rico's ruling party approved a resolution Sunday urging the United Nations to review the island's status, hoping international pressure can help it gain greater autonomy from the United States.

It was the first time Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila's Popular Democratic Party, which has favored the current commonwealth status, has called for such a change. The approval was announced by Vila, who last week said he will run for re-election next year.

Party officials say they want to maintain U.S. ties, but also to be able to negotiate trade pacts and import products carried on ships not registered in the U.S., among other powers.

More than 3,600 members attending the party's general assembly approved the resolution, which was aimed at giving the island greater economic flexibility to overcome a slump while maintaining its current political status.

The U.N. has no authority to change Puerto Rico's status, but party officials believe it can create dialog leading to partial autonomy.

As I noted before, there is a strong push right now in Congress to end Puerto Rico's status as an unincorporated territory of the United States of America. Frankly, this is long overdue, in my not so humble opinion. Either cut them loose or incorporate them as a state. Keeping them as a colonial possession is an embarrassment for our ideals. However, there are those that wish to keep - or semi-enhance - the status quo. One of those is the current governor of the Commonwealth. The one of the enhancements they would like to have would be to be able to set their own foreign policy and trade agreements while still keeping their citizenship in the US.

Repeatedly, multiple administrations - Republican and Democrat - have come back and said that this is incompatible with the US Constitution. I believe that one of the quotes that was addressed to the current governor was "What part of 'no' don't you understand?" wrt to his plans for his Commonwealth. With the bills [see here too] that are being processed in Congress, and the trends for public opinion in Puerto Rico, it seems as though the Enhanced Commonwealth crowd are getting a little nervous that they are going to loose out as the Independence Movement and Statehood forces are teamed up for this next, binding vote. The problem is that the vote is rigged in such a way that keeping the status quo is not going to happen (see the bill).

That they are appealing to the UN makes me think that they are in a losing battle and that they need outside help...which might not go over well and probably won't help either. As always, we shall see.

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