October 22, 1998

                  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 United
                  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.