April 10, 2018; Politico
In a repositioning of sorts, and as NPQ wrote, Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rosselló announced last week that he’d shifted to defense mode when it comes to the rebuilding of Puerto Rico. But this week, he went into offense, announcing a new voter registration effort targeting Puerto Ricans in the US for the midterm elections.
Rosselló told Politico, “Puerto Rico has never had a structure like the one that we’re forming. It has never demonstrated to have the national wherewithal and political power that we hope to showcase in this election. And if we do that, I think it will start pressing on these issues. Of second-class citizenship, equality, and then what are the solutions for Puerto Rico.”
For Rosselló, this dovetails nicely with his own pro-statehood position. As Politico writes, “He expected to use his bully pulpit to push for Puerto Rican statehood. Instead, he’s been trying to get the island back to the basics of food, electricity and running water—though that, he argues, is about statehood, too.”
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Rosselló is right about one thing: “It’s all based on one thing: political power. We don’t have it.” With this initiative, he hopes to “reward the politicians who’ve helped and punish those who haven’t.”
Rosselló is relying on the experience of Cuban Americans, who organized two million people over 60 years to shape American foreign policy in Cuba. There are 5.6 million Puerto Ricans in the US and they are concentrated in a few states: Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, and Texas. It is here that he will focus the effort.
His father, former Puerto Rico governor Dr. Pedro Rosselló, quotes the conclusion of federal First Court of Appeals Judge Juan Torruella in an article from the same day at Alaska’s Juneau Empire: “In 2018, the starting point has to be the fact that we are dealing with a gross civil rights violation perpetrated for over a century against several million US citizens. They have been denied equality with the rest of the nation for the absurd reason that they reside in a different geographic area than the majority of their fellow citizens.”
Rosselló himself concludes, “What I’m trying to do is help facilitate the unfinished business of American democracy, where we finally eliminate colonialism.” However, he reluctantly acknowledges there is another option, even if he considers it “less desirable”—independence.—Cyndi Suarez