Friday, January 27 2012
Edwin R. Jusino
The Republican primaries have reached Florida, the first State to have a significant Hispanic population. According to Politics365.com, Puerto Ricans comprise 32% of the Hispanic vote in Florida, second only to Cubans whom make 35% of the Hispanic population. Duringlast night’s CNN debate, the status of Puerto Rico was brought up, and Wolf Blitzer, CNN political anchor and moderator of the debate, only allowed Rick Santorum to answer.
Now, considering that Puerto Ricans in the States make an important voting bloc, specially the one that reside in the swing state of Florida, I thought about writing about the different stances of the candidates in regards to Puerto Rican statehood. Although Puerto Ricans in the island cannot vote in the general elections, we can vote in the primaries, and ours is set for March 18. In dispute, 23 delegates that could be decisive, if after Super Tuesday there is no clear winner.
With Governor Luis G. Fortuño’s endorsement, Mitt Romney already has 1 of those 23 delegate votes secured. This endorsement also came with an announcement from the Romney camp that he would support Statehood for the island if Puerto Ricans voted for the option this next November 6, when we will be consulted upon the matter. Originally, Romney had launched his committee in Puerto Rico stating he would favor the decision made by the resident of Puerto Rico. Romney’s campaign manager in Puerto Rico is Zoraida Fonalledas, a member of one of the most influential and wealthiest families in the island. Fonalledas is also a member of the Puerto Rican Republican party leadership, and could have been influential in making the candidate take a stronger stance in favor of Statehood. After all, by rule, all Republican Party members in Puerto Rico must favor Statehood for the island.
But Mitt Romney hasn’t always been a friend of Puerto Rico. In another tale of his famous flip-flops, Mitt Romney was recently signaled out by the New York Times as being in charge of the layoffs of 300 DuPont workers in Puerto Rico. Bad track record, considering Romney is using his Bain Capital record as a way to promote the creation of jobs and getting the national economy back into shape.
Even so, if Romney were to win the nomination, as he seems to be poised to do, and beats Barack Obama, he would be the 4th president to openly favor Statehood for the Island; the first three are Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George H. Bush.
Recently Carlos Méndez Martínez , the Puerto Rican Republican Party president and mayor of the town of Aguadilla, endorsed Newt Gingrich. Today The Hill is reporting that the same woman who asked the question on last night’s CNN debate, inquired of Gingrich if he would support Statehood for Puerto Rico. The Hill quotes Gingrich’s response as being: “I just said what I believe, and if you don't like it, I'm sorry we disagree. I believe the people of Puerto Rico should make the decision. It's not my place to decide for Puerto Ricans. But what I'm saying is that if the people of Puerto Rico decide they want to be a state, I will help.” Gingrich is arguably Romney’s biggest hurdle and competition for the GOP nomination. The candidate has expressed a more moderate stance on the issue of illegals in the federation. He has expressed that young kids that wish to gain citizenship, but where brought here illegally could do so by joining the military.
Both Romney and Gingrich have favored that the United States officially recognize English as the official language of government. Even though English is the predominant language, the United States is the 5th largest Spanish speaking nation in the world, and arguably would be practically impossible to impose, even if it where only for the federal government. Newt also got into hot waters on last night’s debate when he said he would work to make a lunar colony the 51st state of the United States.
For Santorum I’ll let him speak for himself, watch the video below:
The last remaining candidate is Ron Paul. Even though he has yet to declare his position on Statehood, Ron Paul was one of the few Republicans in the House that voted against pre-conditioning Statehood with an English Only amendment for the HR2499, and also cosponsored the bill.