By José A. Thin / email@example.com
WASHINGTON - The White House has proposed "to update" its findings regarding Puerto Rico's Political Status with politicians of Puerto Rico.
Therefore , the White House Task Force on Puerto Rico Status created by President George W. Bush called yesterday for two meetings with Puerto Rican political leaders scheduled for this month, officials from Puerto Rico confirmed.
The Presidential Task Force which recommended in December 2005 to direct Puerto Rico toward statehood or its political sovereignty, is to carry out said meetings on October 9th and October 23rd, 2007 at the Department of Jutice , in Washington.
Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá (D) , Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño (R) and the President of the Puerto Rico Senate Kenneth McClintock (D), confirmed their assistance yesterday to said meetings.
The puerto rican Pro-independence Party (PIP) has not received invitation, according to its secretary for North America Affairs, Manuel Rodriguez Orellana.
McClintock indicated that he has selected the date of October 23 to meet with the Task Force. The Governor's mansion officials reported that the Governor had just received the invitation. Fortuño expressed that his office is currently coordinating the date in which he will meet with the White House .
"The intention of the Task Force is to have independent encounters with Puerto Rican Political Leaders," indicated Fortuño. He added that he does not expect a review "of the content" of the previous report, but perhaps " recommendations or other steps that comply with the objectives of the first report".
"According to executive order 13183, the Task Force on Puerto Rico Status should present reports to the President every other year, in its effort in providing options for the future status of Puerto Rico and its relation with the Government of the U.S. This report will present an up to date report with the findings of the Task Force and recent events related to Puerto Rico's status", expressed the 'task force' co chairmen, Maggie Grant and Steven Engel.
Grant substituted Ruben Barrales in January as Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs . As of today, not one Public Hearing has been held in Puerto Rico and the Task Force's contact with Political leaders has been kept to a minimum.
Engel, an official from the Office of the Legal Counselor of the Department of Justice, has had very little time as a part of the Task Force. He substituted Kevin Marshall, in the same position, who last spring testified before the House of Representatives in regards to the Presidential Task Force Report.
Last April , Marshall notified the House of Representatives -after some hesitations- that the Bush administration supports HR 900, collects the recommendations of the Task Force and pursues to finish with the current status of the Island.
Now, besides the other Bill in favor of a Constitutional Assembly , the Task Force would have to pass judgment on Bill 1936 of democratic senator Ken Salazar, that suggests a plebiscite among statehood, independence, free association or the current commonwealth status.