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Puerto Rico will hold a consultation without Washington’s endorsement to elect lobbyists to advocate for statehood


El Morro National Monument in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Photo: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

SAN JUAN – Puerto Ricans are summoned this Sunday to the polls to elect the representatives of the Commonwealth who want to change this status in relation to the United States to promote an unlikely annexation as the fifty-first state of the Union, something that the ruling New Party supports Progressive (PNP) but not shared by the opposition or the Government of Washington.

The electoral appointment in Puerto Rico is unusual, since in the last decades several consultations have been held with the population to ask about the full incorporation of the island into the United States, but never this modality, which it seeks through six “lobbyists” or lobbyists lobby in the federal capital to congressmen so that they favor annexation.

The PNP, whose main political objective throughout its history has been the full incorporation of the island into the United States, which is known locally as “statehood”, has promoted consultations among the population between 1967 and 2020 with that objective .

These consultations have always been non-binding and promoted by the PNP executives in power, without any support from Congress in Washington, which is the one that can decide on the political relationship between the United States and the Commonwealth, a territory with a high degree of autonomy with respect to the North American country that reserves vital areas such as borders, defense or currency, among others.

Regulation approval

This Sunday’s consultation will be possible thanks to the approval of Law 167-20.

This standard is only supported by the PNP, which makes Sunday’s consultation possible because the Fiscal Oversight Board – a federal entity imposed by Washington to manage the island’s multimillion dollar debt – did not grant the money for its purpose.

Governor Pierluisi directly assigned $ 1.8 million to the State Elections Commission (CEE) to make Sunday’s consultation a reality.

The consultation will be held between 9 am and 5 pm, and the voter must select from among four applicants for two seats for the Federal Senate and four out of six for the House of Representatives.

No machines for electronic counting

There will be no electronic scrutiny machines at this event as there is no funding for it.

The list of the four candidates who will aspire to two positions for the Senate is made up of Zoraida Buxó Santiago, Víctor Pérez Rentas, Roberto López and former legislator Melinda Romero Donnelly, all little-known people in the public life of the Caribbean island.

The four seats for the lower house will be chosen from among six candidates: the former mayor of Ponce María Meléndez, Roberto Lefranc Fortuño, Elizabeth Torres Rodríguez, Adriel Vélez Torres, Jorge Rodríguez Feliciano and Ricardo Marrero Passapera, also unknown to the general public.

Enter Ricardo Rosselló

The novelty of this election is that former Governor Ricardo Rosselló announced that he would accept the position of “lobbyist” if elected by direct nomination.

This modality is possible in this consultation, since the election of the “lobbyists” is open, in addition to the aforementioned candidates chosen by the PNP, to any Puerto Rican who publicly postulates for the position and is voted in this electoral appointment. .

Some analysts indicate that the unexpected entry of Rosselló after his convulsive exit from power in the summer of 2019 after a scandal caused by the revelation of a “chat” with his most intimate circle of collaborators, opens a new scenario on the electoral board, with Unclear repercussions that may open an alternative in the PNP, currently led by Governor Pedro Pierluisi.

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