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Puerto Rico holds referendum on constitution

08-20-2012 15:51 BJT

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The island territory of Puerto Rico is part of the US commonwealth, but is largely in charge of its own affairs. Today it held an important referendum on its constitution.

It is a crucial day for democracy in the island of Puerto Rico. Today the islanders voted on two constitutional amendments: shrinking the legislature and restricting the right to post the bail.

This two-part referendum has sharply divided the US commonwealth.

Puerto Rico's Governor Luis Fortuno (R) show his ballot with his triplets Luis
Roberto, Maria Luisa and Guillermo at a polling center in San Juan August 19, 2012.
Voters in the U.S. territory went to the polls on Sunday to consider two
Constitutional amendments.

Dr. Ralph Perez, Puerto Rican voter, said, "I voted for both, First I think that government is too big."

Jenny Garcia, Puerto Rican voter, said, "I voted no and no. First of all, I don’t believe that changing the number of legislators it’s going to solve any problem because even if it’s a smaller group, they will have a high salary anyway."

The YES option would reduce the local legislature by 30 per cent as part of a cost-saving measure and grant judges the right to deny or limit bail in certain murder cases.

Puerto Rico's Popular Democratic Party governor candidate Alejandro Garcia Padilla
casts his votes before the media at a polling center in La Barra sector in Caguas
August 19, 2012. Voters in the U.S. territory went to the polls on Sunday to consider
two Constitutional amendments.

Vanessa Droz, Puerto Rican voter, said, "Denying bail does not solve crime, it is a subterfuge so the governor can get to the elections in November looking as if he has done something to solve the high crime that we face daily."

Rafael Nadal, Puerto Rican voter, said, "We have too many problems with the murders, that is one of the biggest reasons for this, we have to somehow stop the bad people."

Puerto Rico is currently the only nation in the Americas where everyone is entitled to bail regardless of the crime.

Nitza Soledad Perez said, "Will it change anything in your opinion?"

"It is probable that someone on bail will commit a crime, but it has to be an insignificant number. So fighting crime this way seems to be more of a political maneuver because there is an election in two and a half months. "

The arguments for both options are plenty: Limiting bail would prevent suspects from intimidating witnesses and killing again while out on bail and the legislators here are one of the best paid in the United States

Puerto Ricans agree that the high crime rate is the toughest problem they face as a society. The island has also been struggling economically since 2005, but the majority of voters believed that amending the constitution was not the solution. The tendencies favor the no option. Puerto Ricans seem not to want bureaucratic actions but tangible ones that would really address their challenges.


Editor:Zhang Dan |Source:

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