Puerto Rican anti-statehood party denied campaign funds
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Puerto Rico's main anti-statehood party will be
denied public funds for its campaign for an upcoming vote on the island's relationship
with the United States, officials have decided.
The Popular Democratic Party said Thursday it would raise funds from donors.
"We will get the money, don't you worry," party president Anibal Acevedo
Vila told the San Juan Star newspaper.
The PDP has traditionally supported maintaining Puerto Rico's unusual
"commonwealth status" under which its 3.8 million people are U.S. citizens
but do not pay federal taxes and cannot vote for U.S. president or
However, because of a disagreement over how commonwealth is defined on
the ballot for the planned December 13 referendum, the party decided last
week to call on supporters to vote for "none of the above."
The State Elections Commissions decided Wednesday to uphold a
regulation that parties must support one of the options to qualify for
$500,000 in public funds. But it agreed to allow the PDP to station
observers at polling stations.
Party fears statehood will dilute Hispanic culture
Elections commission president Juan Melecio said the concession on the
observers was meant "to guarantee the transparency of the process, the
integrity of the (elections) commission and the legitimacy of the plebiscite."
A bill aimed at resolving Puerto Rico's tangled, century-old ties to the
States stalled in the U.S. Senate after passing the U.S. House of
Representatives by one vote.
In frustration, pro-statehood Gov. Pedro Rossello called for a non-binding
vote on the island. Rossello and his New Progressive party say making the
island the 51st U.S. state is the best way to end an essentially colonial
relationship and preserve the economic advantages Puerto Ricans have
The PDP fears statehood will dilute Puerto Rico's Hispanic culture and
impose the English language on its people.
The ballot will include statehood, full independence, independence with
undefined friendly ties to the United States, continued commonwealth or
"none of the above."
The PDP claims the definitions are slanted to favor statehood. They object
to wording saying Puerto Rico as a commonwealth is "subject to the
authority of Congress" and its people's U.S. citizenship is "statutory,"
meaning it can be revoked.
As part of the agreement Wednesday, the three elections commissioners --
one from each of Puerto Rico's main parties -- agreed not to file new court
cases challenging the vote.
But the PDP said it would continue with an existing lawsuit claiming the
ballot favors statehood.
Copyright 1998 The Associated Press.