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Archive for January, 2012


This is on.

Follow #PapaRebelde on Twitter.

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We get very excited when our dear friends have great news to share and in the case of Adrian Carrasquillo (@RealAdrianC on Twitter), today marks a time to celebrate a very cool accomplishment for him and @NBCLatino. They are going social, and we wish them all the best! We asked Adrian to share his thoughts about the essence of NBC Latino. Here they are:

“I’m happy to announce that we’ve launched the NBC Latino social media presence on Facebook and Twitter. Social is one of the pillars of our vision. We come nowhere near our mission unless we have the pulse of our community. But we wanted to do it right. Now that we’ve worked to hone our editorial voice we feel we are ready to launch social.

We want to appeal to Hispanics who feel that there has been something missing from Latino news. Our hope is that by immersing ourselves in the community and elevating what we all see as the Latino news conversation, we will better reflect the nuance, richness and depth of the U.S. Latino experience.

I subscribe to the theory that the most precious resource on the Internet is the time and attention of readers. You can’t survive in 2012 by expecting people to type in the URL to your website. Since 25 percent of all online trips in the U.S. end up on Facebook and Twitter and have become the online town square, I want us to tap into the vast Hispanic online community and present content that is fun, fresh, inspired and smart on the platforms where they already are.

I’ve come to know, respect and admire a lot of people in the Latino space in the last year and a half — from influencers and bloggers to amazing people furthering Hispanic initiatives through the social community. We want to continue to tell important stories and I want everyone who comes across our content to feel ownership of it. We want to represent them and we want them to keep us honest.

So I invite anyone to email me at adrian.carrasquillo@nbcuni.com or tweet to me @RealAdrianC if they have any questions, comments or concerns. Thanks to everyone who is joining us on this journey. I can speak for everyone at NBC Latino when I say that we’re honored to be in the position to make it with you.”

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A strange Puerto Rican political weekend culminated with a video of pro-statehood and Republican Governor Luis Fortuño showing his bromance GOP love to Mitt Romney in Florida. In case you haven’t seen the video, here it is:

This blog has written a lot about the weird GOP VP adoration with Fortuño, especially since this self-proclaimed lover of Ronaldo Reagan right now couldn’t even vote in a presidential election. And now that this Romney endorsement is making the rounds of the mainstream US media (one that is clueless about the island’s politics and issues), we will be very clear about it:

Luis Fortuño should be endorsing President Obama and not Romney, because without the policies of the Obama administration, Fortuño would have no political life in a tough re-election year for Puerto Rican governor.

Let’s look at the facts:

Fortuño on the Affordable Care Act (also known as OBAMACARE)

Fortuño on The Recovery Act (TARP, the Stimulus Bill)

  • For someone who is into free enterprise and against government funding of projects, Fortuño had no problem accepting federal stimulus dollars (source: Recovery.gov). According to official US government records, Puerto Rico under the Fortuño administration received close to $2.7 billion (yes, BILLION) between February 2009 and September 2011. ¡Gracias, Presidente Obama!

  • The Associated Press reported that Fortuño thanked Vice President Joe Biden for “ensuring that all Puerto Ricans benefit from the federal stimulus, and thanked him for the help from the federal government to put Puerto Rico on the path to economic recovery” Like with the health-care law, Fortuño’s rhetoric on the Recovery Act directly counters Romney’s current rhetoric (which is different from Romney’s own original support of it.)
  • Yet, when discussing the Puerto Rican “miracle” he has spearheaded, Fortuño makes no mention of what the Obama administration has done for Puerto Rico. In front of conservatives, he is the Small Government Guy, but when he needs money, he takes billions of dollars in stimulus money? What is the real story, Governor? It is clear that your public relations push is Fox-laced.
But maybe the Governor IS like Romney. Because, as Forbes magazine reports, Fortuño can’t decide what he is promising Puerto Rican taxpayers: tax cuts or tax increases? How do you say Flip Flop in Spanish? It is clear to us that the Fortuño endorsement of Romney is based on just one thing: a veiled fantasy of a Puerto Rico becoming the 51st state of the Union. Once again, status becomes the issue when in fact Fortuño should be thanking President Obama for saving his political future.

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The Miami Herald just reported the following statement from the Boston campaign office of GOP candidate Mitt Romney:

Puerto Rican Republican Governor Luis Fortuño

“It is an honor to have Governor Fortuño’s support,” said Mitt Romney.  “As president, I look forward to working with Governor Fortuño on the issues most pressing for the people of Puerto Rico – job creation, public safety and resolving the Island’s 113-year political status question.  Every job created on the Island is another American job added to our nation’s economic comeback.  Working together to continue Puerto Rico’s economic recovery will ensure Puerto Rico is part of the United States’ economic revitalization.  By implementing pro-growth policies that promote job creation, we can help Puerto Rico and the rest of the country.   We must also commit ourselves to stopping drug trafficking into Puerto Rico as a priority of the Federal Government and the required resources need to be assigned.  I will never neglect the U.S. Caribbean border and will continue to support strong trade and economic opportunity, and robust border security. In addition, I pledge to work with Congress to help the American citizens residing in Puerto Rico resolve their century-long status issue by choosing from the constitutionally-viable status options.  I look forward to working with Governor Fortuño on these issues as well as many other issues.”

“It is an honor to have Governor Fortuño’s support,” said Mitt Romney.  “As president, I look forward to working with Governor Fortuño on the issues most pressing for the people of Puerto Rico – job creation, public safety and resolving the Island’s 113-year political status question.  Every job created on the Island is another American job added to our nation’s economic comeback.  Working together to continue Puerto Rico’s economic recovery will ensure Puerto Rico is part of the United States’ economic revitalization.  By implementing pro-growth policies that promote job creation, we can help Puerto Rico and the rest of the country.   We must also commit ourselves to stopping drug trafficking into Puerto Rico as a priority of the Federal Government and the required resources need to be assigned.  I will never neglect the U.S. Caribbean border and will continue to support strong trade and economic opportunity, and robust border security. In addition, I pledge to work with Congress to help the American citizens residing in Puerto Rico resolve their century-long status issue by choosing from the constitutionally-viable status options.  I look forward to working with Governor Fortuño on these issues as well as many other issues.”

Announcing his support, Governor Fortuño said, “Mitt Romney is the one candidate who has the record, leadership, experience, and pro-growth plan to continue the course of private-sector job creation we’ve begun in Puerto Rico and provide economic stability for generations.  Mitt Romney has shown throughout his life that the principles learned in the private sector can be applied to all challenges, whether it was saving the 2002 Olympics or balancing the budget as Governor.”

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Never underestimate the power of an active Puerto Rican who is passionate about politics. Today at the Hispanic Leadership Network conference in Miami, the issue of the island’s political status and how poorly CNN handled it last night was front and center. A new post by Univision News presents a very detailed account of what both GOP candidates Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney had to say about the upcoming November plebiscite question.

Americans will never accept a flag with 51 stars in it?

Here is what was said and guess who was in the middle of it all? Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder, the CEO of the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce in Florida and an self-described Fortuñista. Here is an excerpt of what Unvision reported. It started with Gingrich bringing up the CNN question:

…Gingrich noted that the question was “one that unfortunately was not covered very well last night and I regret that Wolf Blitzer did not turn and ask the rest of us.”

“I have had a firm position on the right of the Puerto Rican people to have a referendum,” Gingrich said to applause. “I am not dictating the outcome of the referendum because there are several options and the Puerto Rican people have to make that decision.

“But I think they have every right and I support their right to have a referendum to decide on statehood or not and that is something which I would actively support as their right to have a referendum and then, as every other state has, to negotiate the process of accession if that’s what the people of Puerto Rico want to do,” he added.

Then it continues when Cuevas-Neander jumps in.

“Mr. Speaker, I am the lady of the question,” she said, standing up in the front of the audience. “Our Puerto Ricans have given more men and women to the United States Armed Forces than any other state in the union. We have four million Puerto Ricans in the United States who are voters. We have 52 percent of our children who are in poverty. The question is very simple – you want our vote, yes or no?”

“The question is do you believe that we are able to be a state or not? Simple.”

“I just said what I believe and if you don’t like it I am sorry we disagree,” replied Gingrich. “I believe the people of Puerto Rico should make the decision.”

“What I’m telling you is if the people of Puerto Rico make the decision that they want to be a state,” Gingrich continued to applause from the crowd, “I will work actively to help them negotiate the process of accession to the United States, but the people of Puerto Rico have to decide their future. I would welcome them if they make the decision, but I will not tell them what decision they should make.”

An hour later, according to Univision News, Mitt Romney talked about Puerto Rico. Romney supports statehood.

An hour later, Romney addressed the issue in his remarks at the conference, receiving a warmer response from the crowd, including from Cuevas-Neunder, who stood and applauded the former Massachusetts governor.

“I’m looking forward to the time when the people of Puerto Rico make their decision about becoming a state,” he said as the audience cheered. “Wow, we’ve got some friends here.”

“I think it’s in November you’re having a referendum and I expect the people of Puerto Rico will decide that they want to become a state and I can tell you that I will work with [Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño] to make sure that if that vote comes out in favor of statehood that we will go through the process in Washington to provide statehood to Puerto Rico.”

 

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As Puerto Rico enters another plebiscite question this November to check in on the island’s pulse regarding its 114-year-old colonial relationship with the United States, last night’s GOP Florida Debate on CNN included a question from Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder, the Republican president and CEO of the Puerto Rican Chamber of Florida, about the candidates’ position on statehood for Puerto Rico. (SIDENOTE: The fact that Cuevas-Neunder called Puerto Rican Republican Governor Luis Fortuño a “great governor” can be the subject of another post, but we won’t go there today.)

For a brief second, we got excited about the question. YES! CNN has FINALLY gotten it. Florida’s Puerto Rican vote is a growing bloc and the issue of the island’s political status is a critical topic, especially since it would have been huge for ALL the GOP candidates to weigh in on the issue and more importantly, express public support for the upcoming plebiscite to become a BINDING resolution and respect the will of Puerto Ricans, who in essence are American citizens but have lived a second-class life. (On that point, we agree with Fortuñista Cuevas-Neunder, who made this point on CNN.)

But, in the end, CNN failed. Horribly. They glossed over an issue that matters for Puerto Rican voters, and never had all the candidates weigh in on it. Instead, it was Rick Santorum who answered the question and he was rather non-committal. After talking about supporting Puerto Ricans’ right to self-determination, he was quick to give a shout out to Fortuño, whose is a friend of Santorum’s and whose family went to the same church as Santorum’s in the DC area, when Fortuño was the island’s Resident Commissioner.

Santorum also went on to say that he LOVES Puerto Rico and has visited the island several times (probably when he was earning lobbying money from pharmaceutical companies who do business there), and blah blah blah. It was obvious to us that CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer had no clue about the issue of Puerto Rican status, and just goes to show how out of touch the mainstream American media is when it comes to the island.

But don’t take our word for it. A report today from Fox News Latino (yes, Fox News Latino) asked other Puerto Ricans about CNN’s fail and we are glad they did.

Puerto Ricans, the second largest voter group among Hispanics in the US, are “outraged” and “insulted” at CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and the Republican candidates for their “disrespectful” handling of a question centered around the longstanding issue of Puerto Rico’s statehood and independence.

During the live broadcast of the Jacksonville debate, audience members attending the Hispanic Leadership Network Conference, a center right advocacy organization, in Miami were given a chance to ask questions to the candidates. That’s when Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder, the Republican president and CEO of the Puerto Rican Chamber of Florida, asked the GOP candidates where they stood on the issue of the island’s statehood.

The answer, or lack thereof, she received on national television sent her and a group of about five Puerto Ricans packing early as they stormed out of the CNN sponsored Watch Party mid-debate.

Here is what some Puerto Rican voters told FNL:

“It turns us off. The whole issue of Puerto Rico was just really insulting. They just blew it off. And of course no one takes a position,” Anthony Suárez, a veteran and lawyer, told Fox News Latino as he stormed off.

“You have got to understand not only is this an issue that is important to the four million American Puerto Ricans here -but there are four million Americans on that island who do not vote for president, who fight in wars, but have not had an opportunity to participate and that question is not even being debated – it’s not even being discussed.”

Colonel Dennis Freytes, USA Army Ret. Veteran and Chairman of the Hispanic Achievers Grant Council, was red mad specifically at Blitzer who moderated the event.

“I cannot understand the concept of Wolf Blitzer and CNN not even giving it the decency of having that question being asked of the other three candidates. It’s pretty disgusting,” he said.

Cuevas-Neunder, who had pinned the Puerto Rican flag on her outfit, was enraged after asking her question on national television.

“I felt as a second class citizen. As if we are not worth anything. Four million Puerto Rican voters, consumers, who have given more men and women to the United States armed forces then any other state in the union,” she said. “I am outraged. I think they need a little bit of education. I want to instruct them on who the Puerto Rican community is – they don’t know.”

José Fuentes, the former Puerto Rico Attorney General from 1997-1999, believes the flubbed debate moment which he called “shocking” will reverberate throughout the Puerto Rican community and will be felt as early as primary day on Tuesday in Florida.

“The impact is that there is going to be lower turnout of the I-4 corridor of the Puerto Rican community,” Fuentes told Fox News Latino specifically about this primary election.

Others reaffirmed the same belief that while CNN is at fault, it ultimately was a lose-lose for the Republican party.

“Even though it was an error on CNN they [the candidates] should have seized the moment. The other candidates should have said wait a second let me talk about Puerto Rican statehood. They spent more time talking about lunar statehood then Puerto Rican statehood,” said Alfonso Aguilar, of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles.

“Puerto Ricans are the decisive vote within the Latino electorate in Florida. This is a problem that CNN had. It was a big mistake. But to allow only Rick Santorum to answer the question was insulting.”

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