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Opinion

Puerto Rico Law Enforcement Funding Included in Legislation

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation to fund the Federal government from March 28th through September 30, the rest of Federal Fiscal Year 2013.

A separate bill has been introduced in the Senate and a compromise is expected to be reached, although there are differences between the House bill written by the House’s Republican majority and the Senate bill, authored on a bipartisan basis in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The Senate committee leadership used the legislation to urge the Obama Administration to increase its efforts to fight illegal drug-trafficking related crime in and around Puerto Rico. Read More »Puerto Rico Law Enforcement Funding Included in Legislation

Smaller States See Power Grow, But All States Have More Clout Than Puerto Rico

An extensive New York Times analysis yesterday found that the political power of States with small populations was growing relative to States with large populations.

States with small populations have always had a relatively greater share in Federal decision-making but the article pointed out that the relative influence has been expanding due to population shifts.Read More »Smaller States See Power Grow, But All States Have More Clout Than Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Statehood Featured on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Last night, the Daily Show with Jon Stewart took on the issue of statehood for Puerto Rico.   The mock report featured “journalist” Al Madrigal attempting to convince demonstrators pushing for Puerto Rican statehood in a rally on Saturday, March 2nd that they would be better off without it.

Madrigal’s efforts – while humorous – were not successful.  The people who attended the rally in front of the White House were committed to pushing for Puerto Rico’s entry as a new state of the United States.Read More »Puerto Rico Statehood Featured on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart

‘Commonwealth’ party congressional candidate: ‘Commonwealth’ “System Has Collapsed”

The 2012 congressional candidate of Puerto Rico’s ‘commonwealth’ party said February 22nd that the current governing “system of the island has collapsed” and that it needs a complete “reinvention,” according to El Nuevo Dia.

“Our model simply failed,” said Rafael Cox Alomar, who was Governor Garcia Padilla’s unsuccessful running mate for Puerto Rico’s lone seat in Congress with a vote only in committees of the U.S. House.Read More »‘Commonwealth’ party congressional candidate: ‘Commonwealth’ “System Has Collapsed”

Why Does the Death Penalty Exist in Puerto Rico?

Contrary to the claims of Commonwealth proponents, there is no “compact” between the U.S. and Puerto Rico that grants Puerto Rico power equal to that of the federal government.  The United States can – and does – unilaterally override Puerto Rican policy and preferences.

The death penalty was abolished in Puerto Rico in 1929, two years after the last local execution was held. Puerto Rico’s constitution, written in 1952, explicitly outlaws the death penalty, saying simply “the death penalty shall not exist.”

In 2000, U.S. District Judge Salvador Casellas ruled that the federal death penalty should not be applied in Puerto Rico because Puerto Rican residents have no voting representation in Congress, which reinstated the federal death penalty in 1994 as part of drug-related legislation. “It shocks the conscience to impose the ultimate penalty, death, upon American citizens who are denied the right to participate directly or indirectly in the government that enacts and authorizes the imposition of such punishment,” Casellas wrote.Read More »Why Does the Death Penalty Exist in Puerto Rico?

Immigration Reform and Puerto Rico Self-Determination: What it Means to be a U.S. Citizen

As immigration reform moves forward, what will happen to the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico?

By Howard L. Hills*

I.   Redeeming the promise of equality in America

As our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico enter the twelfth decade of a quest for self-determination, a new potential setback has emerged, the irony of which would be almost as cruel as Puerto Rican soldiers fighting overseas for democratic rights that they are denied back home as residents of a U.S. possession.

It could be regarded as profoundly unfair and demoralizing if 11 million people who entered the U.S. unlawfully are given a path to full enfranchisement and equal citizenship rights, while the 4 million U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico remain disenfranchised in a less than equal citizenship status. How would Puerto Ricans explain that to their children?  How would any other American do the same?Read More »Immigration Reform and Puerto Rico Self-Determination: What it Means to be a U.S. Citizen