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Puerto Rican leader squeaks in

By WITH ANALYSIS FROM MONITOR CORRESPONDENTS AROUND THE WORLD, EDITED BY RANDY SHIPP / November 17, 1980



It looks as it Puerto Rican Gov. Carlos Romero Barcelo will get a sec ond term after all, Monitor Latin America correspondent James Nelson Goodsell writes.

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With the vote count almost complete after a series of breakdowns in the island's electoral machinery and other delays, the governor has a thin 2,300 -vote margin over former Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon, who for much of the count had appeared the victor.

There remains the possibility that the Romero Barcelo win could be overturned during a recount that got under way Nov. 12 but will not be completed until mid-December at the earliest.

The general view in San Juan, the island capital, is that the embattled governor will remain in La Fortaleza, the island's Spanish colonial-style gubernatorial mansion, for another four years.

But Governor Romeo Barcelo does not command much of a mandate, and the contentious way he conducted his campaign left a poor impression among many Pueto Ricans, including some who voted for him.

The whole voting mechanism this year is going to be the subject of much discussion. Charges of fraud and irregularities are already circulating.Never before in Puerto Rican history has there been such a flurry of unhappiness over voting procedures.

This could prove an embarrassment for Governor Romero Barcelo. It is not overlooked that procedures used this year reflect changes the governor pushed through the legislature against heavy opposition.