Former Colonial Governor Hernandez-Colon’s ‘Quicksand’ Argument

In Citizenship Equality, Commentary and Analysis, Enemies of Equality, H.R. 2499, Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico Democracy Act, Self-Determination, Tennessee Plan, The Big Lie: The PPD's "Commonwealth" on July 8, 2010 at 11:44 PM
The Spaniard’s Puffery in Support of a Constitutional Convention on Status


Former Governor Rafael Hernández-Colón’s last two columns on CaribbeanBusinessPR.com (see Part I; see Part II) show that the Spaniard has shifted his focus beyond H.R. 2499 because it is obvious that the colonial status party, the PPD Commonwealthers, have succeeded once again in derailing the process towards self-determination by attacking the possibility of statehood and refusing to define what their sovereign solution for Puerto Rico is.

Hernández-Colón’s two-part column begins by highlighting two questions on a CaribbeanBusiness-Gaither poll:

1. How important is it to resolve Puerto Rico’s territorial status?

2. What is Puerto Rico’s principal problem?

On the first question, the poll shows that 70 percent say it is important or very important to resolve the status issue. The governor also points to the 60 percent who think it is “urgent,” while simultaneously saying these figures have not changed in the past five years. Further, on the second question, the poll shows that less than 1 in 10 persons believe the status issue is “a principal problem,” bested by homicides, healthcare, and the economy. Now, there are natural questions that arise in view of these paradoxically tantalizing poll answers, and the former governor has his.

Hernández-Colón uses these ostensibly opposed answers to validate his belief that Puerto Ricans do not wake up in the morning “fearing or feeling oppression from the chains of colonialism as the ideological status junkies would have us believe.”

His conclusion is that “Puerto Ricans are not upset at the functionality of the (territorial) Commonwealth” but at the “ongoing conflict between varied aspirations of the Puerto Rican people as to the ultimate political destiny of the island,” which the governor qualifies as a “governing problem.” (All emphasis added)

The one thing the former governor has right is that Puerto Rico’s current territorial status is NOT the pinnacle of Puerto Rican sovereignty he and his party have sold to Puerto Ricans for almost 60 years.  It is the very “functionality” (or lack thereof) of the territorial structure known as the “Commonwealth” that the people of Puerto Rico do feel everyday of their lives and the consequences of such an uncertain, impotent mechanism.

As for the “ongoing conflict between varied aspirations,” let us not kid ourselves, governor, we all know that in Puerto Rico the real “fight” for status is between those who believe Puerto Rico should be sovereign through statehood and those of you who believe the current territorial, unequal “Commonwealth” status is just fine. Only less than 5 percent of Puerto Ricans want sovereignty for Puerto Rico through independence, but at least they have a real, constitutional option out there for the Puerto Rican people and they can vote for it if they so wish.

But Hernández-Colón and the PPD do not care about ending the current territorial status–they want to “enhance” it. Lipstick for that pig, anybody?

The “lipstick” in this case is a Constitutional Convention on Status. The foundation for his argument is that “status resolution devolves through a fatal political quicksand that requires more than a one-shot deal plebiscite expression to bring the matter to fruition” because (as he shockingly admits) “the losing parties will mount an all-out campaign–to them a matter of political life or death–to defeat the will of the people.”

This last comment on “losing parties” is not some sort of premonition or academic conclusion, as the governor attempts to portray it, but, instead, it is a page out of the PPD’s dirty playbook. The latest occasion for its deployment being the assault on Res. Comm. Pedro Pierluisi’s H.R. 2499, which sought to end the current unequal and subservient status of Puerto Rico. And it worked! It worked so well that it “defeated the will of the people” before they had a chance to express it. Brilliant! (see Foxx Amendment)

So, to recapitulate the governor’s stand, 1) direct democratic plebiscites are the wrong way to go; 2) losing parties will defeat the will of the people; 3) there is nothing wrong with unequal democratic and civil rights; and 4) we should enhance the very structure that supports the unequal status, even though this idea does not have the support of a majority of Puerto Ricans. Mix well, look up, look down, clap once, propose a Constitutional Convention on Status and Presto!

Rafael Hernández-Colón erroneously concludes that because past plebiscites have not worked to produce a clear choice from the Puerto Rican electorate it is time to move beyond the direct will of the people and on to a yet-to-be-described big “C” convention. Hernández-Colón has already told us that past and future plebiscites will not work because those who stand to lose will do anything to subvert the will of the people. When it comes to past plebiscites–the same plebiscites the enemies of equality claim are repudiations of statehood–what the former governor fails to mention is that all have been riddled with innocuous obstacles placed there by the party that stands to lose the most: Mr. Hernández-Colón’s PPD.

“In status politics,” Rafael Hernández-Colón believes, “anything goes.”

And he means it!


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