Former “commonwealth” party Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila late last week reiterated his proposal that Puerto Rico become a sovereign nation in an association with the U.S. that either nation can end (“free association”).
Acevedo is one of four former presidents of the “commonwealth” party tasked with trying to reconcile different visions of a “commonwealth” political status within the party. The former governor from 2005 to 2009 is the strongest nationalist in the group.
The committee includes a governor he worked for, Rafael Hernandez Colon, governor from 1973 to 1977 and 1985 to 1993, who is the most ardent defender of the opposite end of the spectrum among the four, the current territory status.
The party is trying to settle on a “commonwealth” status proposal for a status plebiscite in the territory provided for by a Federal law enacted in January, although only U.S. statehood and nationhood would meet the requirement of the law that the plebiscite’s options be able to resolve the question of Puerto Rico’s status.
Acevedo, who was the territory’s representative to the Federal government from 2001 until 2005, explained that his status proposal would have the U.S. Government assume the debts of the Commonwealth government, which total some $73 billion, and otherwise provide the current level of Federal funding in the territory.
Now a lobbyist, Acevedo asserted that his proposal would appeal to the U.S. Government because it would provide certainty of what Puerto Rico will cost and eliminate increases in Federal assistance to Puerto Rico in future years.
He also contended that the U.S. Government could buy the Commonwealth’s debt for its “actual value,” which he put at close to $51 billion.
He, additionally, claimed that the U.S. Government could refinance the Commonwealth’s debt at lower interest rates because of its superior credit.
Without debt, he argued, Puerto Rico could invest its resources in economic development measures and lower taxes and fees for insular residents.