Carlos Romero-Barcelo was identified incorrectly yesterday. He is the governor of Puerto Rico.
A political party, pledged to sideline indefinitely the problem of Puerto Rican political status, was created today in this southern coastal city.
San Juan Mayor Hernan Padilla, 45, speaking before 15,000 persons, urged members of his new Puerto Rican Renewal Party to focus on economic and political reforms before tackling the "final decision" on political status.
Like most of his audience, Padilla favors statehood for the island. But he said that decision should not be rushed and "must be resolved by reason, not by force."
Traditionally, Puerto Rican political parties are created to promote statehood, autonomy or independence. Padilla told the crowd that the PRP "wants to liberate the people from that ideological prison."
Besides promising to save the political-status issue for a referendum at an unspecified date, Padilla pledged to combat unemployment, now raging at a 25 percent rate. He also called for a two-term limit on the governorship.
Former governor Carlos Romero's decision last November to seek a third term triggered the conflict leading to creation of the PRP.
Immediately after that, a reform movement began within the New Progressive Party to demand primary elections. Romero, whose delegates suspended party regulations at an assembly last November and proclaimed him a candidate for a third term, agreed. But Padilla, claiming the governor's grip on party machinery made a fair primary impossible, bolted the NPP to create his new party.
Observers say the split greatly improves chances for a return to power by the pro-autonomy Popular Democratic Party, which dominated island government for almost 30 years until the 1968 elections. It has held power for one four-year term since then.
Padilla, a physician, is also Republican national committeeman for Puerto Rico and is slated to preside over the National Conference of Mayors in 1984.