Puerto Rican statehood backers sing new tune
Special To The Herald
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Barely a couple of months after it became an
international hit as the unofficial anthem of the 1998 World Cup, the Cup of Life is
brimming with discord.
The song, performed by Puerto Rican icon Ricky Martin before the World
soccer final in France this summer, has been adopted by Gov. Pedro Rossello as a
theme tune for his party's drive to convert Puerto Rico into the 51st state of the
At a July 25 rally commemorating the 100th anniversary of the U.S. invasion
Puerto Rico, Rossello announced that the island would stage yet another plebiscite
vote in December, in which he is wagering that his statehood option will win
decisively and persuade the U.S. Congress to finally ``de-colonize'' Puerto Rico.
Statehood finished a close second to the present commonwealth arrangement
1993, the last time the island voted on its status.
One local newspaper reported that the call for a plebiscite caught many
by surprise and received only a ``lukewarm'' response from those in attendance.
But, according to the report, a bit of earnest flag waving and a few stanzas of La
Copa de la Vida infused some adrenaline among the tens of thousands of partisans
sweltering under a blazing sun.
Three of the song's four verses chime that, to beat your rival, ``you have
for a star,'' the 51st star of the U.S. flag being the ultimate prize for island
``Anybody would say this was a campaign jingle custom made for us,'' said
Gonzalez, spokesman for the governor's New Progressive Party (NPP).
Gonzalez conceded that the party's use of the song at the rally was unauthorized,
and blamed the sound truck operator for playing it on his own.
Creating a `mess'
``We're issuing a directive not to use the song to promote the plebiscite,''
``The people who drive the sound trucks, most of the time all they know how to
do is drive. They don't realize the mess they can get the party into'' by playing the
The ``mess'' has already begun to unfold: Rossello said Tuesday he has
letter from Warner-Chapell Music, which owns the rights to the music of La Copa
de la Vida, telling him to stop using the song without permission.
The governor hardly seemed contrite, however.
``They're operating under a mistaken premise,'' Rossello told reporters,
of the music company. ``Any of you who buy a record can play it anytime you
want. That's part of buying a record. If you don't want people to use a song, don't
Rossello's opponents see it differently.
``The governor is using that song at all political appearances, and even
at some of
his official events,'' said Jose Cruz, spokesman for the main opposition party,
which supports Puerto Rico's remaining a commonwealth. He said his party wasn't
concerned about Rossello attempting to capitalize on the popularity of the song, or
that of its performer.
``The people who should be concerned about this are the authors of the
Ricky Martin himself.''
A former tennis star who has stayed in enviable shape despite the rigors
Rossello propelled his party to a landslide victory in the 1996 election, making it
look as effortless as if he were leading a mambo line to the rhythm of La
Macarena, which he eagerly performed, in pelvis-thrusting fashion, at stops all
along the campaign trail.
``Now he's doing exactly the same thing he did with La Macarena, except
he's using Ricky Martin's song to captivate young people and maintain a festive
mood,'' said Cruz, the opposition spokesman.
Martin's manager, Angelo Medina, is known to be a statehood supporter,
said his prized performer is strictly apolitical.
``It's like with the Macarena,'' he said. ``Music doesn't choose sides.
It belongs to