Civic groups in Florida devoted to registering voters. (semisquare-x3)
Civic groups in Florida devoted to registering voters. (GFR Media)

Washigton - Since October 2017, the US Democratic Party broke with its neutrality – before the Popular and New Progressive parties-, in the issue of the status and approved a resolution that proposes to turn the Island into the 51 state of the US.

Now that from Republican President Donald Trump has rejected statehood, the president of the US Democratic Party in Puerto Rico, Charlie Rodríguez, believes that Democrats should seize the opportunity and strongly promote among the Puerto Rican voters in Florida their support for the annexation of Puerto Rico as state 51, facing the legislative and state elections on November 6.

"It would help to motivate more people to vote," Rodríguez said, referring to Florida, where polls show that the majority of Puerto Rican voters support statehood.

In October 2017, the US Democratic National Committee (DNC) passed a resolution urging Congress "to respond to the damage and destruction caused by Hurricane María" and "the democratic will of the people of Puerto Rico by passing legislation on the admission of Puerto Rico as state 51 of the US."

DNC president, Tom Pérez, had given his support to the statehood one week after the plebiscite on June 11, 2017, in which the statehood obtained 97 percent of the votes, in the middle of the boycott of the opposition and with only 23 percent voter turnout. But, at that moment he did it for his part. 

Six days before the summer meeting of the US DNC, in Chicago, during a meeting of the executive committee through a telephone conference Perez-after listening to a delegate from Washington DC-alluded to the capital of US as state 51, "followed by Puerto Rico."

Although the DNC does not use the issue of statehood in its campaign in Florida, Rodríguez - linked to the New Progressive Party (PNP) -, said that Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, and congressmen Darren Soto and Stephanie Murphy promote the issue in their presentations

Andrew Gillum, the Democratic candidate for governor of Florida, who like Nelson and Soto has won the support of Democrats of the PNP and the Popular Democratic Party (PPD), has remained neutral and supported the concept of self-determination for Puerto Rico.

Civic groups in Florida devoted to registering voters said this week that the issue of status is not usually mentioned as an issue that motivates Puerto Ricans to vote.

For the DNC member John Verdejo, from North Carolina and of Puerto Rican descend, the official Democratic position on the status of Puerto Rico is not as clear as one might think.

Verdejo was the lead author of another resolution on Puerto Rico approved at the Chicago summer meeting - on August 25 - in which Congress was asked to "allow equal treatment related to health, education and other federal programs" and to end the territorial status of theisland.

The measure calls for the US tax system to treat Puerto Rico exclusively as a domestic jurisdiction, even in relation to the new tax on intangible products of Controlled Foreign Corporation (CFC) on the island.

Governor Ricardo Rosselló, however, still seeks to reduce the new tax on intangible products of the island's CFCs, whose federal tax benefits are based on doing business as foreign companies.

"I understand the differences (of status). My resolution focused on the issue of assistance," said Verdejo, who mentioned that in his communications regarding the campaign and Puerto Rican voters in the US, the DNC has not included anything related the island's status.

Senator José Nadal Power,  PPD, affirmed that although Democratic sectors see the status debate as a "civil rights issue," they will insist that the DNC frame it "as a debate from country to country." "Behind the scenes Democrats and Republicans say the same thing: while Puerto Rico is in economic and fiscal crisis, a change in status is not possible," added Nadal Power.

The possibility of a change of status in the short term must also overcome the imposition of the federal PROMESA law, which created a Financial Oversight and Management Board that controls the public finances of the Island and a bankruptcy system that can only exist under the current territorial status.

Nadal Power said that Populars - who lost within the DNC their attempt to nullify the election of Rodríguez and his executive committee, " are not going to hang up the gloves" and will demand to be opened to other status options in order for 2020.


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