Former Puerto Rico Governor Rafael Hernandez Colon is part of a group of Commonwealth Party leaders given the task of coming up with a definition of “enhanced commonwealth” that will be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice for inclusion on the ballot for the first Federally-sponsored plebiscite.
“Enhanced commonwealth” has been rejected repeatedly by the U.S. government, including a Senate subcommittee which described it as “not viable” in 2013 and cautioned the Governor of Puerto Rico to stop trying to advance it.
Hernandez Colon described his definition differently. He says it can be called “improved commonwealth,” “developed commonwealth,” or “perfected commonwealth.”
However, Hernandez Colon’s definition of this commonwealth includes local power over environment, communication, wages, marine transportation and a number of other matters currently under control of the U.S. government. It also calls for Puerto Rico to have some of the powers of an independent nation, as well as Federal support equal to that given to the States.
Hernandez Colon says he is certain that the U.S. Department of Justice, which must approve all the options for the plebiscite, will approve his “perfected commonwealth” plan. However, his plan as described is exactly the kind of “not viable” option that has already been rejected.
In 1998, the former Governor wrote that a vote favoring “commonwealth” would be the beginning of “negotiations toward the perfection of commonwealth.” The next plebiscite cannot include an undefined hope that Congress will someday agree to a plan they have been rejecting for decades. It must be a clearly-defined plan that is not in conflict with the U.S. Constitution.