There's only one candidate for Democrats in Puerto Rico

There's only one candidate for Democrats in Puerto Rico
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Of the remaining contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, Mike Bloomberg is the only one who openly favors statehood for Puerto Rico. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Energy: Oil giants meet with Trump at White House | Interior extends tenure of controversial land management chief | Oil prices tick up on hopes of Russia-Saudi deal Oil giants meet at White House amid talk of buying strategic reserves The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden struggles to stay in the spotlight MORE, Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden struggles to stay in the spotlight Is Texas learning to love ObamaCare? Romney warns Trump: Don't interfere with coronavirus relief oversight MORE, Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegButtigieg launches new PAC to aid down-ballot candidates HuffPost political reporter on why Bernie fell way behind Biden Economists fear slow pace of testing will prolong recession MORE, Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOvernight Health Care: CDC recommends face coverings in public | Resistance to social distancing sparks new worries | Controversy over change of national stockpile definition | McConnell signals fourth coronavirus bill Democratic senators want probe into change of national stockpile description Democrats ask EPA, Interior to pause rulemaking amid coronavirus MORE, Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharDemocrats fear coronavirus impact on November turnout Hillicon Valley: Zoom draws new scrutiny amid virus fallout | Dems step up push for mail-in voting | Google to lift ban on political ads referencing coronavirus Democrats press Trump, GOP for funding for mail-in ballots MORE and Tom SteyerTom SteyerProgressive advocates propose T 'green stimulus' plan Candidates want data privacy rules, except for their own campaigns Budowsky: Biden should pull together a 'dream team of rivals' MORE[1] have all hedged their position, claiming instead that the people of Puerto Rico should decide their political status.

Underlining the position held by the majority of the candidates is a calculated strategy, which aims to straddle the political factions that drive insular politics while avoiding any specific commitment concerning its status. It should be noted that of these candidates, Sanders, Biden, Warren and Klobuchar are, or have been, senators in Congress for many years — and have studiously ignored Puerto Rico’s status issues throughout their respective tenures.

It is well to remind these senators that it is Congress – not the presidency – that has plenary powers over the territories under Article IV, Section 3, of the Constitution. Any politician that claims to favor whatever the people of Puerto Rico decide, while failing to take specific actions to address the issue, is just kicking the can down the road.

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Even though Puerto Ricans are American citizens, they do not vote in presidential or congressional elections. This is the major constitutional consequence of being an unincorporated territory. We do participate, however, in the national party’s respective primaries. This limited participation in the democratic process has led to the inclusion in their respective platforms of language regarding the political future of Puerto Rico, which traditionally has been honored in the breach. Puerto Rico has 58 delegates to the Democratic convention, and 23 delegates to the Republican convention.

With regards to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump fires intelligence community inspector general who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint Trump organization has laid off over 1000 employees due to pandemic: report Trump invokes Defense Production Act to prevent export of surgical masks, gloves MORE and the Republican Party, nothing should be expected on the status issue. In its 2016 platform the GOP declared that it supported “the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state.” Contrary to this statement, the last four years under Trump and Republican congressional leadership has been, if anything, duplicitous and in opposition to statehood. It remains to been seen what language the Republican Party will include in its platform concerning Puerto Rico.      

Given the growing importance of the Hispanic vote and the identity politics that drives much of the current national debate, the Puerto Rican vote has a role to play. The past 2018 midterm election of Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) with the support of the Puerto Rican vote is an indication of its importance in the national stage. It is not accidental that Scott favors statehood for Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans who have settled in Florida in recent years need to take notice of their political weight, particularly in light of the importance of the Electoral College in the presidential election.

The Democratic Party, on the other hand, included in its 2016 platform the bromide that it believes “that the people of Puerto Rico should determine their ultimate political status from permanent options that do not conflict with the Constitution, laws, and policies of the United States.” Since the Democratic Party regained the House in 2018, the majority under the leadership of Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump says he opposes mail-in voting for November On The Money: Economy sheds 701K jobs in March | Why unemployment checks could take weeks | Confusion surrounds 9B in small-business loans The bipartisan neutering of the Congressional Budget Office MORE has deliberately stalled Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González’s efforts to move a statehood admission bill that would settle the status issue.     

It is well known that the political factions in Puerto Rico are driven by the issue of status. Notwithstanding the imploded administration of then Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, the Legislative Assembly is still controlled by the New Progressive Party (PNP), which favors statehood. Current Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garcéd is identified with the Republican Party, and though claims to favor statehood, does not appear to be too interested in promoting it. Former Resident Commissioner Pedro PierluisiPedro Rafael PierluisiThere's only one candidate for Democrats in Puerto Rico Trump reignites Puerto Rico feud amid Hurricane Dorian The Hill's Morning Report - Trump vows federal response to Ohio, Texas shootings MORE, a member of the Democratic Party who is now a PNP candidate for governor, endorses Mike Bloomberg for president. 

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Puerto Rico’s Legislative Assembly recently submitted legislation for holding a “Statehood: yes or no” plebiscite. Given the low electoral turnout in the June 2017 plebiscite — which statehood opponents in Washington have used as an argument to delegitimize its overwhelming results in favor of statehood — it is politically sound to schedule it on the same day as the general election. Although it is unlikely that the Department of Justice will endorse this plebiscite, as provided by Public Law 113-76, statehood leadership should submit the ballot for its approval. No stone should be left unturned.    

Given that Mike Bloomberg is the only candidate that favors statehood for Puerto Rico, it behooves pro-statehood Puerto Rican Democrats to vote in favor of his nomination.

Andrés L. Córdova is a law professor at Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, where he teaches contracts and property courses. He is also an occasional columnist on legal and political issues at the Spanish daily El Vocero de Puerto Rico.