Puerto Rico’s current governor, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, is not running for reelection, but there are about half a dozen candidates for the position. El Nuevo Dia recently shared the reactions of the candidates for governor to the decision in the Sanchez Valle case, decided earlier this month. In that case, the U.S. Supreme Court said quite clearly that Puerto Rico has no sovereignty of its own; all the power of Puerto Rico’s government has been delegated by – and therefore still ultimately belong to – Congress.
Ricky Rosselló, gubernatorial candidate for the New Progressive Party, which is also known as the statehood party, said, “The case of Valle Sanchez again demonstrates the fallacy of our current status and the perceived collapse pillars of the Commonwealth.”
He continued, “The federal Supreme claims that Puerto Rico remains a colony … It is time to unite to enforce the will of the people expressed at the polls and reach the only option that guarantees a status equal to other American citizens: statehood.” Rosello suggested specific actions, too: “Let’s take affirmative steps such as filing a Certificate of Admission in January 2017 and launch a Tennessee Plan to achieve once and for all the solution to the problem of status. Being a colony is the biggest obstacle to our development. It is time to put aside inequality and claim our rights.”
David Bernier, gubernatorial candidate for the Popular Democratic Party, or the “commonwealth” party, said, “The decision of the Supreme Federal Court in the case of Sanchez Valle alters the democratic anchor of the Commonwealth. While acknowledging an area of self-government, the decision forces us to an urgent review of the structure of the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States. The debate about the past is ended today by the Supreme Court of the United States.”
Rafael Bernabe, gubernatorial candidate for the PPT, said, “This decision confirms what many have always said, that the Commonwealth remains a colonial relationship, that Congress has plenary power over Puerto Rico; it raised the urgency of the decolonization of Puerto Rico. I think this poses a crisis for the Popular Party because it means that the ELA that party has defended historically has no legal reality.” The PPT is a smaller party, which just got back onto the ballot in the summer of 2012. While the three main political parties each has a status preference, the PPT has not taken a position on status.
Maria de Lourdes Santiago, the candidate for the Puerto Rican Independence Party, said, “It is no coincidence that the determination of the Supreme Court was issued just today, the day the United States House of Representatives will act on the draft board fiscal control, which is colonialism naked, the imposition of the dictatorship, disregarding the prerogatives of Puerto Rican citizens… It means that the ideas of a developed ALS [enhanced commonwealth] have no place in the constitutional order of the United States. Annexation is an impossibility because of our historical and idiosyncratic differences, and because in any case, it is nothing but the last stage of colonialism. The only dignified, morally and materially viable solution is the independence of Puerto Rico.”
Alexandra Lúgaro, an independent candidate for governor, said, “I think the decision was a correct interpretation of existing law. The federal Supreme Court was wary of how they touched the issue of sovereignty, and… did not go into a detailed analysis of traditional sovereignty or say if Puerto Rico was enjoying it or not.”
Manuel Cidre, another independent candidate, said, “No one should be surprised by the determination in the case of Valle Sanchez delivered today by the Supreme Court of the United States. This decision, together with the Board of Federal Fiscal Control clearly states that the power over Puerto Rico lies with the Federal Congress, which forces us to reflect on the next steps to address the issue of the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States. However, I propose that this matter be dealt with sensibly and not from the dreams and illusions of every partisan group. I hope that the leaders of political parties in Puerto Rico behave with seriousness and maturity merited by this historical juncture and avoid entering the typical behavior of using decontextualized expressions of the Branches of the Federal Government to belittle fractions who think differently and encourage fantasies in the minds of the followers of their particular party or ideological group. I urge all candidates for governor immediately to sit down at the same table to address the clear message that we are sending federal authorities.” He concluded that the message needs to be a “loud and clear” message saying, “We need to do things differently.”