The Providence Journal of Rhode Island reported last Saturday that the remarks made by state House Minority Leader Robert A. Watson about Guatemalans has caused an uproar in local and national Guatemalan organizations. Social media has played a role in sharing this news with others, and plans of a protest are being made.
According to the ProJo, Watson made his comments last week during the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce’s annual lunch for legislators. When asked about legislative priorities, Watson said:
I guess that if you are a Guatemalan gay man who likes to gamble and smokes marijuana, you probably think we’re onto some good ideas here.
The article continues:
David A. Quiroa, president of the Guatemalan-American Alliance of Rhode Island, said Friday that he expects that out-of-state Guatemalan organizations will send representatives to a news conference, now being organized, about Watson’s remarks. He said protests are also possible.
Quiroa also told the newspaper the following:
At the end of the day, I don’t think his intention was to directly insult us, but he did. He needs to know — people in a position of power, they have to be careful … In this case, he did use Guatemalans as the main act in the circus, if you will. That’s what I take issue with. I can see that it wasn’t intentional, but it’s just like a car accident. We don’t mean to hit someone, but we do. So this can be a social accident if you will, but nevertheless there were injuries.”
Through our network, through Facebook and the Internet network — we already have the support of all the major Guatemalan organizations throughout the nation.
Watson made additional comments last week on a WPRO talk show with Matt Allen, where he said:
I reject the suggestion that it’s insulting.
I guess my point was — and I tried to use levity — and it was not the least bit insulting … I tried to offer the idea perhaps that if you were gay from Guatemala, liked to gamble and like to smoke pot, you’re probably liking what we’ve been doing because it seems like that’s all we’ve been doing.”
It was delivered hopefully with a bit of humor, and humor has a kernel of truth on occasion. The truth of this is, we are preoccupied with a number of issues, primarily social issues, at a time when financially, we are burning to the ground … I was fairly certain that to that room of business leaders throughout our state, that were assembled in that room, I felt that it was resonating as a message.