The Miami Herald
September 3, 1998

Puerto Rican statehood backers sing new tune

             KARL ROSS
             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 Cup
             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 of
             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 in
             1993, the last time the island voted on its status.

             One local newspaper reported that the call for a plebiscite caught many supporters
             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 to fight
             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 Melvin
             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,'' he said.
             ``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 received a
             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, speaking
             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
             sell it.''

             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 song and
             Ricky Martin himself.''

            Macarena redux

             A former tennis star who has stayed in enviable shape despite the rigors of office,
             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 this time
             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, but he
             said his prized performer is strictly apolitical.

             ``It's like with the Macarena,'' he said. ``Music doesn't choose sides. It belongs to