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Can the charades just stop about how amazing and awesome the Puerto Rican Wonder Boy, Governor Luis Fortuño, has been for the island of Puerto Rico? The latest news is that Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is now telling the Washington Post that it plans to showcase Governor Fortuño, a darling among GOPers who have no clue about how unpopular and divisive the governor is on his own island (psst, he is not even leading in current polls for his re-election bid), so that the Mitt Romney’s campaign can gain more of the US Latino vote.

Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño

Let’s just give Mr. Priebus the benefit of the doubt and share the following, since the 2012 campaign is all about jobs, right?

  • Also, let’s really stop to look at the actual stats about Fortuño’s push to make Puerto Rico leaner and meaner when it comes to public sector jobs. Just a few facts, from the same DOL stats: In September 2011, there were 265,000 public sector employees in Puerto Rico. In February 2012, there are now 269,000 public sector employees. Of the total jobs in all of Puerto Rico as of February 2012, roughly 25% of the jobs are classified as public sector jobs. Sure, Fortuño came in when it was a 33% but it is still at 25% and the number of public sector jobs is growing again.
  • When Fortuño took office in January 2008, the unemployment rate in Puerto Rico was at 10.7.%. As of February 2012 it is at 15%. Call us crazy, but that is progress? Romney and the RNC is praising a leader whose unemployment rate is worse that the overall US rate and this is the guy who want to showcase to US Latino voters? Also, does anyone who wants to look at actual statistics want to share the following information: the labor force in Puerto Rico is plummeting, young people are leaving the island for jobs in the US. Where is the Fortuño miracle?

Hey, but if the RNC wants to roll out Governor Fortuño as the new Latino star of the GOP, more power to them. In the end, Romney will be lucky to gain 15% of the US Latino vote, anyway. Bringing out Fortuño to prove that the GOP is listening to US Latino voters won’t really make a difference anyway.

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN LATINOREBELS.COM

There is reality and then there is Macondo, the fictional town of irrationality made so memorable by the writings of Gabriel García Márquez. Tonight, GOP nominee Mitt Romney is living in Macondo, after trouncing his opponents to gain 20 delegates in the Puerto Rico’s GOP primary.

Source: CNN Politics

Romney, who needed a victory and a resounding one, is clearly out of of touch if he considers that his Puerto Rico win is a feather in his elusive Don Quijote quest to win a serious share of the US Latino vote in the national presidential elections. (The former Massachusetts governor gained more than 80% of the island’s GOP vote, which totaled a bit over 100,000, a much lower expectation than the estimated 300,000 that was previously predicted, as if there are 300,000 active Republicans living in Puerto Rico.)

Yet, if you asked Romney tonight, he sounded decisive and confident. He would tell you that yes, he has found the key to gaining the US Latino vote and moving it into the GOP column. Listen to this one from The New York Times:

“Those people who think Latinos won’t vote for a Republican need to talk to the people of Puerto Rico,” Mr. Romney said, speaking at an evening rally [in Illinois]. “I intend to get Latino voters to vote Republican and take back the White House.”

Yes, Romney is living in Macondo.

Here is why:

  • This entire GOP primary was critical for pro-statehood and Republican governor Luis Fortuño to bring the issue of the island’s political status into the limelight. Fortuño had publicly endorsed Romney and unlike other mainland governors, Fortuño worked hard the last few days, so much so that even his social media sites were all Romney all the time. The Friday night rally for Romney was classic Puerto Rican politics, where such an event would be seen as over the top on the mainland. Did Fortuño, who is very unpopular on the island and is facing an extremely tough re-election bid, achieve his goal? Sure thing. He got Romney the 20 delegates. Luis came through for Mitt. What will Mitt do for Luis in return?
  • How can the Romney campaign seriously put the Puerto Rican victory within the context of gaining more of the US Latino vote? First, Puerto Rico, even though it holds primaries, cannot participate in a national election for president. Second, add Fortuño’s establishment muscle (even though the turnout was low), Romney’s pledge to honor the island’s political status plebiscite if he were to become President, and most importantly, Rick Santorum’s English Only fail, and no wonder Romney won easily. Yet, if the Romney campaign is going to make this their “proof” that he can increase the US Latino vote, none of these primary votes from Puerto Rico wouldn’t even count. The campaign is painting the US Latino vote with a brush that couldn’t even produce a painting even if it painted itself with a paint by numbers set. Hence, Romney is living in Macondo.
  • Romney’s logic is flawed. Isn’t it safe to say that almost EVERYONE in Puerto Rico is of Latino origin? Hell, Romney could proudly proclaim the same thing about winning the key Guamanian vote as well, since he also took the GOP primary in Guam last week. Seems like Romney could be president of all US colonial territories. He’s winning those votes.
  • Romney played the “I love Puerto Rico” card to win the primary (because Santorum’s English Only comments just were disastrous to Puerto Rican voters), but we find it hard to believe that Romney will now be changing his stances on immigration, stopping his association with Anti-Immigration King Kris Kobach, and dropping his opposition to the Dream Act (which is highly popular with US Latino voters). We also doubt that even though Romney was telling Puerto Rican voters that it’s cool by him that they speak as much Spanish as they want, official English (a position he supports) be damned, Romney will wake up and realize that the US Latino is complex, diverse (how would Romney play in California in a national election?), and quite frankly, generally pissed at the GOP’s rhetoric. Does Romney now think that a primary that gets him 20 delegates and 20 delegates only will prove to the world that he can begin to chip away at the GOP’s dismally low approval ratings amongst US Latino voters?

The fact is simple: Fortuño worked the primary hard because having Romney in the White House would give Fortuño a better chance of putting a 51st star on the US flag. But this is no slam dunk for Fortuño, who might not even win his own election in November as the incumbent, nor is it one for Romney, who has become so desperate in “proving” that he can gain more than 14% of the US Latino vote, he would campaign in Macondo, where reality is an illusion and illusions only go so far.

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What is going on here? Has the Luis Fortuño love for Mitt Romney gone sour?

Really, Luis? That is how you treat a friend?

Just last month, the pro-statehood and Republican governor Fortuño traveled to Florida during the height of the Sunshine State’s GOP primary to endorse Mitt Romney. This week, with Republicans now campaigning in Puerto Rico for a March 18 primary (yes, in Puerto Rico, you can vote in primaries but you can’t vote in the national November elections), Fortuño held a meeting with Santorum today. Huh?

This is what happened today in San Juan at La Fortaleza, according to El Nuevo Día (original report is in Spanish, and we have provided a rough translation of the quotes), after Santorum met with Fortuño (press access was limited):

  • Santorum assured that he would support statehood for Puerto Rico if the Puerto Rican people chose that option in November’s plebiscite and he is elected President. “It is the responsibility of a U.S. President to hear the voice of all Americans, including the territories,” Santorum said. “Puerto Rico is a very important part of the United States and I will take the responsibility to represent all Americans.”
  • Santorum also talked about how he is good friends with Fortuño, since they both attended the same church in the Washington DC area. Santorum said that he was a key player in bringing Medicare to the island and that he has a good relationship with the current Resident Commissioner, Pedro Pierluisi (a Democrat) as well as Pedro Roselló, an ex-governor of Puerto Rico and a pro-statehooder.
  • When he was questioned about Fortuño’s endorsement of Romney, Santorum said that said many other governor have done the same. Santorum will visit several churches on the island and also meet with other pro-statehood leaders, including Jennifer González and Thomas Rivera Schatz.
  • END also confirmed that Romney will visit the island later this week and that Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich are considering visits.

Maybe Romney will have some words for Fortuño. Like, hey, dude, why you dissing me?

As for Santorum, his position is clear: you want to be a state, Puerto Rico? English has to be the primary language. Sorry.

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2012 is a critical year for national politics, but it is also one for the island nation of Puerto Rico. The prize? A governorship and a non-binding vote to check in on the country’s preference for political status.

Most Americans on the mainland have no clue about the history of Puerto Rico, its relationship with the United States, the fact that Puerto Ricans are American citizens, and that Puerto Rico is going through a social and economic crisis that has resulted from decades of bad politicians and a passive electorate.

This Sunday, March 18, the Republican Party will hold its primary in Puerto Rico, which is ironic, since Puerto Ricans (although they are US citizens) can’t even vote in the November election. Mainstream media will gloss over the coverage, ignorantly making the whole Puerto Rican dilemma a one-issue situation (political identity) and “proving” that the GOP is seriously taking the US Latino vote into account.

That is the mainstream media’s view, and it is so far from the truth.

The reality is this: politics in Puerto Rico is a game, and a bad one at best, one that has reached high school levels. If you used reality shows to compare the US primary season with that of Puerto Rico, the US would be THE APPRENTICE while Puerto Rico would be JERSEY SHORE. You think Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are criticizing Mitt Romney, who by the way is being endorsing by pro-statehood and GOP Latino Darling Governor Luis Fortuño? Come down to Puerto Rico, where the fight has moved to social media. In one corner, Fortuño, the new GOP Latino IT Guy vs. Alejandro García Padilla, his opponent from the island’s Popular (pro-commonwealth) Party. Will these guys be doing viral videos of shooting laptops soon?

Example One: Fortuño’s Campaign Gets Into a Stupid Twitter War with Reuters:

So what does the PNP do? Post an image on Facebook and they go on Twitter to call Long an “activist of Occupy Wall Street.” So, when in doubt, personally attack a reporter. That won’t play well, will it?

Granted we could be snarky and ask the PNP to actually edit their spelling errors in Spanish (Espana, pais), but we won’t. However, we do find it laughable and sad that a 15.2% unemployment rate is being seen as “good news” for the island. In addition, the chart also confirms that Puerto Rico’s credit rating is pretty low as well. Finally, the chart does nothing to combat the original findings of the December report.

Example Two: Take Your Fight to Facebook and Look Like High School Girls In the Process:

Someone, anyone, who has a clue about political campaigns needs to send a memo to Fortuño and García Padilla: social media is NOT the place to attack your opponents, it is not the place to “celebrate” your popularity (look at all the LIKES we got), and it is definitely not the place to post pictures that can easily be downloaded and screen captured and shared worldwide. Are these guys STATESMEN or are they really 14-year-olds? Based on their social media silliness, we chose the latter. Here is just one visual from Fortuño’s Facebook page (over 55,00 likes):

Governor Fortuño and His Wife, bad cell phone pic and all.

Granted, we will give AGP some Facebook credit (also around 55K likes). At least the photos they post aren’t that bad. But then you get status updates like these from AGP (we have translated): “I present ideas, they respond with insults. And then they come after my family. I am not going to shut up. They only have 8 more months. Instead of insults, ideas.” (btw, that status update got over 1,073 likes).

Wait, maybe these two candidates understand social media, more so that others. Maybe they know that Puerto Rican voters LIVE on Facebook. And when you get stories about AGP being at a “strip club,” you know that this will only get uglier. (BTW, AGP said he spent 50 dollars in a Seattle sex shop in 2006 to buy a gift for his wife.)

And by the, García Padilla is no angel himself, since his party is slinging mud about $1,398 in Krispy Kreme donuts spent with campaign funds of pro-statehooder and House of Represenatives President Jennifer González.

But the fact remains, this is still so HIGH SCHOOL, it is sad. Puerto Rican politics has become one giant social media circus. Yet the sadder thing is that the electorate is responding. And somewhere in heaven, Albizu Campos is shaking his head. What have we become? Where are the real leaders? Will they ever show up? Do they even have a Twitter account?

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The National Coming Out Party of Republican and pro-statehood Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño continues. Next stop, Fox News Latino. Fortuño, who has been a Fox News media darling for the past few years, spoke with FNL about Election 2012, his endorsement of Mitt Romney (strange, since he should be thanking President Obama), and other issues pertaining to the his administration.

Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño

Here are just some of the comments he made to FNL:

ON THE GOP’S EFFORTS TO CAPTURE THE LATINO VOTE
The GOP can’t even envision winning the White House if we lose a significant percentage of the Hispanic vote.

ON THE GOP NOMINATING A LATINO VP CANDIDATE
That person can be a Puerto Rican or a Cuban, or whomever, but that person can bring that perspective and I believe commence to rebuild bridges that have been burned with the Hispanic community.

ON US LATINOS’ CONSERVATIVE VALUES
It is wrong to believe that Hispanics are Democrats. Hispanics are traditionally and historically conservative, not just socially conservative, but fiscally conservative.

ON US LATINOS’ CONSERVATIVE VALUES
It is wrong to believe that Hispanics are Democrats. Hispanics are traditionally and historically conservative, not just socially conservative, but fiscally conservative.

Education is extremely important to the Hispanic community, as well as faith, and certainly working hard,” he said. “I believe that whether it is this time around, or the next time around, whoever that nominee will be will look at different Hispanics with national stature such as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl), Gov. Brian Sandoval (R-NV) or Gov. Susana Martinez (R-NM) and others that have the credentials certainly to occupy that position.

ON WHETHER ROMNEY WILL CHOOSE FORTUÑO AS HIS VP NOMINEE
I don’t foresee that happening. Really, I don’t foresee Gov. Romney asking me to do that. I foresee Gov. Romney asking me to help him get elected, and I certainly would love to assist him to the extent that my campaign allows me.

Fortuño was also asked about Puerto Rico’s “economic turanround.” Which one is that, FNL? Since the current statistics still show the island in bad shape. Double-digit unemployment is not an economic turnaround. FNL also fails to ask the key question about Fortuño’s “miracle:” why are government jobs growing again in Puerto Rico?

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Puerto Rico’s unemployment decreased to 14.9% in December 2011, according to US Department of Labor. It is the lowest rate on the island since June 2009, when the rate was at 14.6%.

Since Republican and pro-statehood governor Luis Fortuño entered office in January 2009, Puerto Rico has fluctuated between an unemployment rate of 13.1% (the first month of Fortuño’s administration) and 17.3% (April 2010). This is the first time since 2010 where the rate has decreased for a least two months in a row.

A more detailed look at the December job figures confirm the following:

  • Public sector jobs continue to account for roughly 30% of all the jobs in Puerto Rico.
  • Public sector jobs are still one of the largest-growing sectors on the island.
  • Tourism jobs continue to decrease.
  • Although construction jobs increased, manufacturing jobs on the island continue decrease, more than any other sector on the island.

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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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