Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares - intent on the idea of promoting statehood for the island and asking the U.S. government for clear expressions on its political relationship with Puerto Rico - announced yesterday that he seeks reelection in 2020.
Before New Progressive Party (PNP) supporters, Rosselló Nevares announced that he will promote a referendum with or without Congress endorsement and that he will demand that anyone running for a congressional seat defines whether or not they support statehood for the island.
In making the announcement about his political future, the Governor also anticipated that he will file a bill to advance the date of the Democratic presidential primary elections in Puerto Rico.
"I want to tell you not only about the agenda we have carried out, but about what we are going to be doing. I want to speak to you very clearly about what I will do as governor of Puerto Rico in 2019 and 2020. But also what I will do as governor of Puerto Rico in 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024," the PNP leader shouted.
However, he did not reveal who will part of his campaign committee, and said that it will "be established along the way."
As he did last week, Rosselló Nevares said he will introduce a legislation for a second status referendum under his tenure on or before 2020. "The time has come to fight, to have full equality and eradicate colonialism", he asserted.
He pointed out that he intends to work with Congress and the federal Department of Justice to define the process. The plebiscite held in June 2017 did not have the approval of the federal government.
Although Rosselló Nevares did not specify the cost of the new referendum or where the funds would come from, as leaders of the Popular Democratic Party (PPD) have requested, he did stress that it will be a statehood yes-or-no referendum.
And he said that people do not like to be put in boxes. “I am sure that there will be independents who will say 'this is the opportunity to reject the colony' and that they will vote. We do not have to generalize," he added.
"If I could solve the status problem, I would do it today. Let´s goa head! We understand that the people have to express themselves, "said Rosselló Nevares, who alternated English and Spanish during his message.
He also seized the opportunity to announce that he will file legislation so that Democratic presidential primary elections are held on March 8 instead of June as it has always been during electoral years.
"Let's put the star"
“I invite you to think about all the steps we have to take together so as not to be treated as second class citizens, unequally, but to be treated equally as American citizens. That is only achieved by putting the 51st star on the American flag. "
The governor turned the word "Vamos" (Let´s go) into the motto of the event held in the Ball Room on the third floor at the Convention Center in Miramar that was crowded with thousands of PNP supporters.
"Let´s go, let's put the star. Let's do it. We are going to do it," he shouted to his supporters, while some of them were leaving the Ball Room in the middle of his speech.
In a possible re-election scenario, the governor promised to grant property titles to Puerto Ricans, to have a "virtual power plant across the island by 2023" and 40 percent renewable energy by that year as well.
Rosselló Nevares warned that those goals "can only be extended and can only be increased, if we have a first class citizenship".
According to Jorge Pérez, general manager at the Convention Center, the Ball Room has capacity for up to 6,000.
"According to the layout, there were 4,000 people in the Ball Room," said Pérez.
The place had a wide platform, an area at the back for cameras and chairs for everyone. The doors remained open so that the people who were left outside could listen.
According to the official website of the Convention Center, the 39,5000 square feet room is divided into two rooms (A and B). It is a smaller than the exhibition hall on the first level, which is 152,700 square feet.
There were many supporters of mayors, representatives and senators as well as public employees, as identified by the slogans on their shirts.
Before Rosselló Nevares spoke, the mayors of Naguabo, Noé Marcano; Naranjito, Orlando Ortiz, and Adjuntas, Jaime Barlucea, among others, had messages for the PNP supporters. However, the mayors of Ponce María "Mayita" Meléndez; San Sebastián, Javier Jiménez, and Fajardo, Aníbal Meléndez did not attend the event.
The mayors praised the Rosselló Nevare administration despite the fact that they have publicly complained about feeling abandoned by the State on many occasions.
Full vote for the PNP
The mayor of Adjuntas stressed to the PNPs that, facing the 2020 general elections, it was imperative to give Rosselló Nevares the complete team and asked people to vote not only for Rosselló Nevares, but also for Carlos "Johnny" Méndez and Thomas Rivera Schatz to lead the Legislative Assembly, and Jenniffer González for a new term as Resident Commissioner in Washington D.C.
Barlucea, who - like other mayors on the mountain area - has denounced that his people were forgotten after Hurricane María, said that Puerto Rico needs the whole team. And that they will remain in power in 2020.
After that, legislative leaders made their entrance to the rhythm of reggaeton. The first was Méndez along with the majority representatives.
Minutes later, around 11:45 a.m., RiveraSchatz, who received the largest ovation, arrived. Although the legislative leader supported the governor, they did not meet either on stage or at the press conference held at the end of the event.
When Rivera Schatz was already on the stage after walking among the public, the PNP electoral commissioner Norma Burgos -with whom he had strong disagreements - was announced.
Meanwhile, Jenniffer González offered an extensive message, alluding to her achievements. Shortly before, she danced reggaeton. "I'm the commissioner who has obtained the most federal funds for Puerto Rico," she said and added that she will continue to advocate for statehood for the island, and even seemed to refer to her possible contender, the mayor of San Juan Carmen Yulín Cruz, who will define her political future on March 22.
"I see so many ideological problems in the Popular Party… they want to support an Independent candidate," González said.
González was the one who introduced the governor, who used lights, fireworks and multiple screens to address his followers.
Rosselló Nevares presented what he considered his achievements in two years. Among other things, he mentioned equal pay for women, new roads with an allocation of $ 652 million; efforts in Congress to access $ 19.9 billion for the island´s reconstruction -although only a portion has been disbursed-; the education reform; reduction in crime rates and the lowest levels of unemployment "in the history of Puerto Rico".
In an aside with the press, the governor acknowledged that the perception among citizens is that there is insecurity and no jobs.
"I recognize that feeling. And, for that reason, we are not going to give up the fight against drug dealers or criminals, but facts are facts, and both murders and crime (against people) rates have dropped. In terms of unemployment, there have been six consecutive months with the lowest levels in the history of Puerto Rico," he said.
The governor assured that, before the end of his tenure, he will create between two and four charter schools, which this administration baptized as Alliance public charter schools. He also announced the delivery of school vouchers and the second phase of the Single Employer Act.