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Fri Jan 29, 2021, 12:14 AM

Puerto Rico governor plan for a 'shadow delegation' draws criticism amid pandemic

MIAMI, SAN JUAN, AND WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A plan by Puerto Rico’s governor to fund elections for a new group of shadow representatives in Washington requires the elected officials to support statehood — and opponents are declaring the proposed election an unconstitutional waste of money amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Newly elected Gov. Pedro Pierluisi, a Democrat and president of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party, told reporters Tuesday that funding the special election for a mostly symbolic group of shadow representatives lobbying for statehood is “the best investment” of public funds because the island will receive much more federal funding if it were to become a U.S. state.

But Pierluisi’s party lost its majority in the Puerto Rican legislature after the 2020 election in November, and now his plan is drawing criticism from opponents who say it is “insensitive” to advance a political cause and spend an estimated $8.9 million on a special election amid the coronavirus pandemic. To guarantee the election could take place, Pierluisi’s New Progressive Party passed two laws three days before losing power in December to require the new delegates to speak both English and Spanish and swear under oath that they will defend statehood.

“This person has an obligation to believe in statehood. So if a person wins with the endorsement of the Puerto Rican people to be part of that committee and that person believes in independence, they will exclude that person,” said Puerto Rico House of Representatives President Rafael Hernández Montañez. “So there you have yet another element of illegality.”

Read more: https://www.mcclatchydc.com/article248799180.html

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