[JPRT 106-A]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]


106th  Congress,                                             Serial No.
                             COMMITTEE PRINT                  
1st Session                                                       106-A
_______________________________________________________________________

                                     

                                     

                                     
 
             THE RESULTS OF THE 1998 PUERTO RICO PLEBISCITE

                               __________

                                 REPORT

                                   by

                         CHAIRMAN DON YOUNG AND

                        SENIOR DEMOCRATIC MEMBER

                             GEORGE MILLER

                              TO MEMBERS,

                         COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES

                                     
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                           November 19, 1999.



                     U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
61-203 cc                    WASHINGTON : 1999



                         COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES

                      DON YOUNG, Alaska, Chairman
W.J. (BILLY) TAUZIN, Louisiana       GEORGE MILLER, California
JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah                NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey               BRUCE F. VENTO, Minnesota
ELTON GALLEGLY, California           DALE E. KILDEE, Michigan
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee       PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
JOEL HEFLEY, Colorado                ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American 
JOHN T. DOOLITTLE, California            Samoa
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland         NEIL ABERCROMBIE, Hawaii
KEN CALVERT, California              SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas
RICHARD W. POMBO, California         OWEN B. PICKETT, Virginia
BARBARA CUBIN, Wyoming               FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey
HELEN CHENOWETH-HAGE, Idaho          CALVIN M. DOOLEY, California
GEORGE P. RADANOVICH, California     CARLOS A. ROMERO-BARCELO, Puerto 
WALTER B. JONES, Jr., North              Rico
    Carolina                         ROBERT A. UNDERWOOD, Guam
WILLIAM M. (MAC) THORNBERRY, Texas   PATRICK J. KENNEDY, Rhode Island
CHRIS CANNON, Utah                   ADAM SMITH, Washington
KEVIN BRADY, Texas                   CHRIS JOHN, Louisiana
JOHN PETERSON, Pennsylvania          DONNA MC CHRISTENSEN, Virgin 
RICK HILL, Montana                       Islands
BOB SCHAFFER, Colorado               RON KIND, Wisconsin
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada                  JAY INSLEE, Washington
MARK E. SOUDER, Indiana              GRACE F. NAPOLITANO, California
GREG WALDEN, Oregon                  TOM UDALL, New Mexico
DON SHERWOOD, Pennsylvania           MARK UDALL, Colorado
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina          JOSEPH CROWLEY, New York
MIKE SIMPSON, Idaho                  RUSH D. HOLT, New Jersey
THOMAS G. TANCREDO, Colorado



                            C O N T E N T S

                              ----------                              
                                                                   Page

Summary..........................................................     5
Background.......................................................     5
Plebiscite History...............................................     6
Conclusion.......................................................     6
    Appendix A...................................................     8
    Appendix B...................................................     9
    Appendix C...................................................    11
    Appendix D...................................................    41
           ``The Results of the 1998 Puerto Rico Plebiscite''

Summary

    On December 13, 1998, the government of Puerto Rico 
conducted a political status plebiscite under local election 
laws. The 1998 vote was an important effort by the local 
government to advance a process of self-determination leading 
to resolution of the political status of Puerto Rico. However, 
the plebiscite was inconclusive because the results do not 
constitute a clear expression of the will of the United States 
citizens of Puerto Rico regarding their ultimate political 
status. Congress should establish by federal statute a 
structured process of self-determination through which the 
ultimate political status of Puerto Rico can be resolved based 
on the constitutionally valid status options that Congress is 
willing to consider.

Background

    On December 14, 1994, and again on January 23, 1997, Puerto 
Rico's Legislative Assembly formally petitioned Congress to 
sponsor a referendum on the future political status of Puerto 
Rico. Puerto Rico's petitions to Congress requested that the 
referendum be based on status definitions Congress judges to be 
compatible with the U.S. Constitution and federal law. See, H. 
Rept. 104-713, Part 1, pp. 50 & 51 and H. Rept. 105-13 1, Part 
1, pp. 68 & 69.
    The House responded to Puerto Rico's petitions on March 4, 
1998, by approving H.R. 856, the United States-Puerto Rico 
Political Status Act, legislation to sponsor a status 
referendum on constitutionally valid options defined by federal 
law. On September 17, 1998, the United States Senate approved 
Resolution 279, supporting self-determination for Puerto Rico 
and confirming the authority of Congress to determine the 
ultimate status of Puerto Rico. While the approval of these 
measures demonstrated bipartisan support for self-determination 
and status resolution, the 105th Congress adjourned without 
approving final legislation authorizing a federally recognized 
self-determination process for Puerto Rico.
    On August 17, 1998, while deliberations in Congress on the 
measures described above were on-going, the Legislative 
Assembly of Puerto Rico approved Public Law 249, authorizing a 
plebiscite under local law to be administered consistent with 
any measure Congress might adopt. Specifically, this local 
statute provided for a ballot presenting any status definitions 
approved by Congress prior to the vote, or, in lieu thereof if 
Congress failed to act, definitions prescribed by the 
Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico based on the House passed 
bill (H.R. 856) and applicable U.S. Supreme Court rulings.
    Because Congress did not sponsor a status vote before 
adjourning, by operation of the local plebiscite statute a 
status vote was held in Puerto Rico under local election laws 
on December 13, 1998. The definitions of status options on the 
plebiscite ballot were those prescribed by the local law and 
appear in Appendix A.
    On February 22, 1999, the results of the vote held on 
December 13, 1998, were certified by the Governor of Puerto 
Rico, and appear at Appendix B. Thereafter, in a letter dated 
April 16, 1999, the Chairman of the Committee on Resources 
invited the three principal local political parties to present 
their views on the 1998 status vote for consideration by the 
Committee. In addition, an organization in Puerto Rico that was 
certified by the local election commission to advocate its 
interpretation of free association requested to submit its 
views on the 1998 vote to the Committee. The requesting letters 
and the materials submitted by these local political entities 
appear at Appendix C.
    The record before the Committee indicates that this 
plebiscite was yet another impressive demonstration of the 
vitality and orderliness of the local constitutional and 
democratic process in Puerto Rico, with more than 71 percent of 
eligible voters participating in a lawfully conducted voting 
process. All three major parties, the New Progressive Party 
(NPP), the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) and the Puerto Rico 
Independence Party (PEP), as well as other organizations and 
individuals with a wide range of differing views, campaigned 
vigorously, freely and openly.
    Although there were legal challenges to the plebiscite law 
in the courts, these were resolved without judicial 
intervention in the process. There were no reported incidents 
of fraud or abuse that call into question the legitimacy of the 
process.

Plebiscite History

    The local plebiscite law governing the 1998 vote did not 
employ the same nomenclature for the status options on the 
ballot that had been used in previous status votes conducted 
under local law in 1967 and 1993. Instead of the traditional 
``statehood'', ``commonwealth'' and ``independence'' 
terminology, the options were numbered 1 through 4. An 
additional ``None of the Above'' option was also added. Results 
of the 1998 vote in comparison to the 1967 and 1993 votes are 
displayed in Appendix D.
    The December 13, 1998, ballot options for Statehood, 
Independence, and Free Association were supported respectively 
by the New Progressive Party, the Puerto Rico Independence 
Party, and PROELA, the parties certified by the Puerto Rico 
State Electoral Commission as advocates of their status. 
However, the Popular Democratic Party, which has been the long-
standing advocate of commonwealth, did not support the 
Commonwealth ballot definition. Instead, the PDP officially 
adopted and advocated an alternative commonwealth definition 
that did not appear on the ballot and contained principles 
rejected on a bipartisan basis by the Committee on Resources 
during consideration of H.R. 856.

Conclusion

    The actual meaning of the 1998 results may only be truly 
understood retrospectively after final resolution of Puerto 
Rico's status. Given the history of previous status votes, as 
well as the speculative nature of any interpretation of the 
``None of the Above'' vote in 1998, the Committee concludes 
that the true will of the voters in Puerto Rico regarding their 
ultimate political status can only be ascertained through 
further self-determination in the future.
    Both the 1993 vote which led to Puerto Rico's petition for 
Congressional sponsorship of a status referendum in 1994, as 
well as the 1998 vote, confirm the validity and soundness of 
the Committee on Resources' recommendation in 1996, and again 
in 1997, that Congress by federal statute enable Puerto Rico to 
implement a structured process of self-determination based on 
constitutionally valid options Congress is willing to consider. 
Such a structured process of self-determination will enable 
Congress and the voters in Puerto Rico to make informed 
decisions with respect to status resolution.
    Congress retains the plenary authority under article IV, 
section 3, clause 2 of the United States Constitution to 
determine the ultimate disposition of the political status of 
Puerto Rico and the United States citizens residing therein. 
Congress must fulfill its moral and legal responsibility toward 
self-determination and authorize a structured process of status 
resolution for Puerto Rico.



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