From the Times: This island, it is safe to say, hates capital punishment. It has not had an execution since 1927. It outlawed the practice two years later and wrote this antipathy into its Constitution in 1952: "The death penalty shall not exist." That is why a federal trial here, in which the Justice Department is seeking the execution of two men accused of kidnapping and murder, has left many Puerto Ricans baffled and angry. Local politicians, members of the legal establishment, scholars and ordinary residents have denounced the trial, now in its second week. They call it a betrayal of the island's autonomy, culture and law, in particular its Constitution, which Congress approved in 1952 as part of the compact that created Puerto Rico's unusual and frequently uneasy association with the United States mainland. Not even relentless daily testimony about the gory crime - the kidnapped man was shot and dismembered - has softened the outrage voiced by many here. . . "If the people of Puerto Rico decide that capital punishment cannot be used, even in federal prosecutions, it is against the Compact of 1952," Mr.Dávila Toro said. "How can I explain that my Constitution is not respected by the nation that teaches us how to live in a democracy?" Wouldn't want to let the colonies make the rest of us look bad, now would we?


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