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PDP Divided Between Territory and Free Association Options

Puerto Rico’s “Commonwealth” (Popular Democratic) Party (PDP) leadership reinforced its preference for Puerto Rico’s current status as a territory of the United States while a group of PDP members continued their break from the party leadership in favor of nationhood in free association with the U.S. at the May 18th meeting of Puerto Rico’s State Elections Commission.

Advocates of all of the possible alternatives to territory status — statehood, independence, and free association (Sovereign Associated Free State) — drew lots at the Commission session for ballot positions on the second of two questions in the plebiscite vote to be held Election Day, this November 6th. The two questions are 1) whether voters want the islands’ current territorial status to continue or not and 2) a choice among the three alternatives to the current status.

The drawing determined that the order of the options in the second question will be: statehood, independence, and nationhood in free association with the United States, which will be called “Sovereign Associated Free State”.

At the Elections Commission drawing, the PDP representative adhered to the party’s stated position urging votes for continuing the current territory status and, then, not voting at all on the second question.

The Alliance for Sovereign Free Association, which consists of members of the PDP party but not its leadership, represented the Sovereign Free Associated State ballot option. This option is most similar to the “Commonwealth” options on Puerto Rico’s previous plebiscites that were supported by PDP leaders and general membership in that they would have exempted Puerto Rico from Federal powers while still keeping the islands’ ties to the United States with greater economic benefits than apply at present.

Federal officials have said that such proposals are impossible for constitutional and basic U.S. policy reasons. The PDP leadership still stands for such a ‘new commonwealth status’ but supports the current territory status until U.S. government officials will accept their proposal.

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