Let All Voices Be Heard?

Aníbal Acevedo-Vilá was governor of Puerto Rico from 2005-2009 and  Resident Commissioner from 2001-2005. He is opposed to statehood for Puerto Rico, and instead favors the “enhanced commonwealth.”

Enhanced Commonwealth Explained

So we can assume that he is a good spokesperson for the anti-statehood faction. Does he make a good argument for his preferred status?

In an opinion piece he wrote earlier this year in the Miami Herald, Acevedo-Vilá must have done his best, but his article does not contain a single argument in favor of “enhanced commonwealth.”

Attempts to discredit the plebiscite

Before the November plebiscite, the commonwealth party had every opportunity to explain what they had to offer the people of Puerto Rico. As the video above shows, the party can’t do that. They can’t agree on a definition of “enhanced commonwealth” (or “perfected commonwealth” or “culminated commonwealth” or any of the other terms that are sometimes used).

Instead, the party waits until statehood wins the plebiscites and then tries to discredit the vote.

Acevedo-Vila tried this tactic. He dismissed the majority vote in November. The Democratic mayoral primary was just won by 1%. No one is questioning the outcome; a majority is a majority.

Acevedo-Vila also reported a poll he commissioned. “The results were extremely accurate ,” he wrote. “The Hart Research poll had annexation [statehood] winning by a close margin, 48 percent to 45 percent, in early August, which was almost exactly the final outcome in November”.

It is not accurate to call statehood “annexation,” since the United States already owns Puerto Rico. However, an outcome of 48 to 45 shows a majority favoring statehood.

“When all the options are given,” the article continues, “support for annexation — or statehood — goes down to 41 percent; commonwealth gets 38 percent, free association gets 8 percent; and Independence 6 percent — with 7 percent undecided.”

Acevedo-Vila doesn’t tell us what option got the 45% he initially mentioned, but 41% is higher than 38%, and certainly much higher than 8% or 6%. In any election, statehood would be the winner. And in fact statehood has won every time the vote has been conducted in this century, even with all the viable options listed on the ballot.

“When all viable options are included…” he goes on.

He is pretending that “commonwealth” is a viable option. This is only true if by “commonwealth” he means the current territorial status. If he means the fantasy island plan his party has been supporting for decades, he is being dishonest. The federal government has been saying over and over that the only viable options are statehood, territory, and independence.

Beer & Barbecue Option

 Statehood will win again

If Puerto Rico must continue to have further plebiscites, statehood will continue to win. A constitutional convention followed by another referendum will delay statehood while Puerto Rico continues to struggle with the problems of being an unincorporated territory.

The supporters of “enhanced commonwealth” like to claim — as Acevedo-Vila did in his recent article — that offering a ballot without the “enhanced commonwealth” concept as an option is disenfranchising the people who want to vote for that option. The federal government has said repeatedly that “enhanced commonwealth” is not a viable option. If in fact this fantasy option did win a referendum, Congress would reject it, as they have in the past.

These voices have been heard. They have nothing new to say.

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