To Err is Human…

People make mistakes, of course. Even a respected news sources such as Reuters can make an error — and they did. In their “schedule of forthcoming world elections” they listed Puerto Rico’s plebiscite for August 12th.

As you can see in the close-up below, Reuters claimed that Puerto Rican voters would decide the first question — whether or not to make a change in the status of Puerto Rico — on August 12th.

Only if voters chose to make a change, they continued, would there be a November election on the second question.

We checked the facts with leaders in Puerto Rico, and we are assured that this is not the case. The election, including both the questions, which you can see on our homepage, will take place in November as planned. For details, you can read the text of Law 283 in PDF form.

We understand that people make mistakes. We’re surprised by this particular mistake, however.

For one thing, this is not a typo. It’s not someone hastily writing “August” when they meant “November.” This is a completely different plan for the election: two votes instead of one, divided by several months. It would mean that all discussion of potential statehood for Puerto Rico, or of independence, could safely be tabled till after that initial vote.

For another, Puerto Rico’s election is not just another “world election.” It is a vote taking place in a U.S. territory, a vote which could lead to the formation of the 51st state in the Union. It seems like something the news mavens at Reuters would have clearly enough in mind that they wouldn’t make such a striking mistake about the details.

Is it time for mainland media to take this issue more seriously? Perhaps we should be having serious national discussion on the potential effects of the various possible outcomes of the plebiscite. Perhaps we should be taking this particular vote, which could have far-reaching consequences for our nation as well as for Puerto Rico, with enough seriousness that major news sources would feel a need to check their facts.

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