SAN JUAN – After more than a month of delays, Puerto Rico’s elections commission certified on Wednesday that the Puerto Rican Independence Party is again eligible to field candidates, the PIP said in a statement.
“This triumph is due to the more than 100,000 Puerto Ricans who endorsed the re-registration of the PIP and to the party’s rank and file,” Secretary-General Juan Dalmau said.
The PIP had threatened to take legal action if the elections commission did not accept the signed petitions seeking the party’s reinstatement, which were submitted more than a month ago.
The pro-independence party was decertified after garnering only 2 percent of the vote in last November’s elections, short of the 3 percent threshold required to remain eligible under Puerto Rican electoral law.
Last week, the elections commission agreed to examine a challenge to the PIP’s re-certification bid filed by the main opposition Democratic Popular Party, or PPD, one of the two organizations that have long dominated Puerto Rican politics.
“The harvest of more than 100,000 signatures across the length and breadth of the country, from independentistas and non-independentistas, shows the enormous respect Puerto Ricans feel toward our party and is a resounding demand that the PIP continue having a voice and presence in the political debate,” Dalmau said Wednesday.
Puerto Rico was occupied by the United States after the 1898 Spanish-American War, and island residents were granted U.S. citizenship in 1917.
On July 25, 1952, Congress allowed Puerto Rico to establish a “permanent association with a federal union,” or commonwealth. The island became a self-governing, unincorporated territory of the United States, with broad internal autonomy but without the right to conduct its own foreign relations.
While the governing New Progressive Party, or PNP – which has links with the Republicans in the mainland United States – wants Puerto Rico to become the 51st U.S. state, the Democrat-allied PPD calls for an enhanced commonwealth status.
The PNP’s Luis Fortuño ousted incumbent PPD Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila in a landslide last November, thanks largely to the federal corruption charges filed against the governor in March 2008.
Acevedo Vila was acquitted on all counts in March. EFE