Posts Tagged ‘Wall Street Journal’

To be quite honest, we never thought that the Facebook page of LatinoRebels.com would ever achieve a similar spike in growth and engagement when we posted the now famous Thank You, Jesús meme in January, 2012.

But this week, it happened again for the Rebeldes, and it was a combination of many things. How did we get a 366% Facebook Level of Engagement (FLOE) rate?

It was a combination of several things. Here they are:

Damn Cat Pictures: This image, showing the history of art through depictions of cats, was shared with us by a fan. So we posted it. And we got over 5,000 shares in 4 days, proving once again that social media engagement is all about cats sometimes.

BanderaGate: The Daily News ‘oops’ moment of a Cuban flag instead of a Puerto Rican flag got us some attention this week. We were the first media outlet to break the story, and our piece was quoted and attributed by several major media outlets, including the New York Times, the HuffPost, and PrimeraHora.com from Puerto Rico.

The TIME cover: We were the first outlet on Facebook to share this week’s historic TIME cover (with credit back to TIME’s main site, but two hours before TIME’s own Facebook page posted the cover) and because of that, our post got more shares that TIME’s page (2,276 for the Rebeldes, compared to 1,725 shares for TIME). Being the first to report does have its advantages.

The Rebels’ FB post (credited to TIME) got more shares this week than TIME’s own post

The Facebook page of TIME posted the same cover two hours later around 9 am EST is about 500 shares less than the one posted by Latino Rebels (with credit) at 7:50 am EST on the same day.

#YoSoy132: We were one of the first media outlets in the United States to provide English-language social media coverage of what is being billed as the Mexican Spring. As a result, about 30% of all our Facebook engagement is coming from Mexico the last few week.

Finally, this increase in Facebook engagement has also directly influenced growth our on main website, LatinoRebels.com. According to our latest analytics, we are averaging 1,000 unique visitors a day, 1,600 pageviews a day, and 78& new visitors. Spread across the year, we have already achieved over a quarter of a million visits (269,831), over 200,000 unique visitors and 388,876 pageviews. We still believe we will be able to achieve 600,000 visits, 500,000 uniques, and about 750,000 pageviews. This is with no advertising and just through SEO and our social media networks. According to our internal traffic data and third-party sites like Alexa, we can say with certainty that LatinoRebels.com is one of the top independent Latino media sites in this world.

To put this week’s growth in perspective, the Facebook page of Latino Rebels is more engaging and more popular this week than the following media brands and pages on Facebook, even though all these pages have more fans, this week Latino Rebels is without question more engaging:

UPDATE, June 17, 2012: Our Facebook community surpassed the 1 million mark in total reach and our current FLOE is over 400%.

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First it was the Wall Street Journal, then it was a syndicated national columnist, and now it is a GOP strategist who has a blog site where you can’t even comment.

Yes, the Luis Fortuño for the VP nomination of the GOP Train is moving at a steady clip. Little by little, posts by GOP brokers are setting the stage to push the Republican and pro-statehooder Fortuño as a serious VP candidate, even though the governor has already said on record that although he is flattered, he would not run.

Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño

Nonetheless, the suggestions continue, as reflected by Roger Stone’s latest piece, entitled THE GOP’S HISPANIC SECRET WEAPON (And It’s Not Marco Rubio). Ignoring the fact that all of a sudden Senator Rubio is no longer the Anointed Latino of the GOP, it is sad to see how short-sighted and inaccurate people like Stone are when discussing the Fortuño administration.

Also, we won’t fault Stone for forgetting to add an “ñ” to Fortuño’s name. Since it just shows how shallow Stone’s sincerity in capturing more Latino voters to the GOP truly is. Let’s hope Stone doesn’t say FELIZ ANO NUEVO next week on Twitter.

The one point that no one is addressing (and it is a basic Constitutional principle) is that right now, Fortuño COULDN’T EVEN VOTE FOR HIMSELF, since Puerto Ricans living on the island cannot vote for President or Vice President (although they can participate in presidential primaries). So, like we have said ad nasuem on this site, for Fortuño to run, he would have to claim residency in the mainland United States, which we are absolutely sure won’t play well on the island, where the governor is facing a very tough re-election bid in 2012. We have listed other reasons as to why a Fortuño for VP media campaign is laughable, so we won’t repeat them here. But we will like to share a few facts with Stone and maybe even invite him to actually talk to the vast majority of Puerto Ricans on the island who can share some real stories about the so-called “Puerto Rican miracle?” To many in the financial community who actually understand economics and markets, Puerto Rico can be the next Greece.

Here is what Stone writes:

Meet Luis Fortuno, Governor of Puerto Rico. He is experienced in Washington as Puerto Rico’s non-voting member of Congress and leading a crusade to restore Puerto Rico – whose economy is suffering after years of bloated spending, high taxes and an expanding government sector under a line of previous Democratic Governors – to economic prosperity.

Governor Fortuno has been on the frontline of cutting spending, hacking back business-killing overregulation and taking on the public employee unions and their rich benefits and compensation in a commonwealth where six in ten people work for the government.

A few things that Stone seems to ignore. According to the US Department of Labor, the current percentage of Puerto Ricans working for the government is about 27% not 60% as his blog claims. As for economic prosperity, Stone also overlooked 2010 US Census statistics (ooops) that show that the island has gotten poorer and that there is a growing gap between rich and poor. Finally, Stone seems to overlook something very basic about Puerto Rico that shows a clear ignorance about the island: the economic culture created by those “Democratic governors” was a direct cause of (wait for it), a 113-year-old colonial relationship with the United States. The culture of dependence has thrived in Puerto Rico because of its the colonial relationship it has had with the United States ever since the US invaded the island in 1898 during the Spanish American War.

Stone continues and concludes:

Fortuno is tall, handsome and articulate. He has been active in the National Republican Party and is a member of the Puerto Rican Statehood Party. Puerto Ricans are the fastest growing segment of the Latino community and Hispanic Americans are the largest growing sector of the American electorate.

Hispanic Americans are increasingly dissatisfied with the Democrat Party. The GOP presidential nominee would be wise to consider a sitting Republican Governor who would bring charisma, star power and excitement to the campaign and launch a crusade to win Hispanic American votes based on shared conservative values on many issues. Luis Fortuno is that man.

Stone should come down to the island and ask residents how much “charisma” and “star power” Fortuño has. This year’s polls from the island’s largest TV network would tell a different story. And like the governor said, Puerto Rican “economic prosperity” is clear now that Victoria’s Secret and PF Chang’s are launching stores on the island.

But we will give Stone the benefit of the doubt. We understand that facts are silly things, but we will say that if you are going to craft the American public the myth of Luis Fortuño, you might want to actually do more research.

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You know it would was bound to happen. After being anointed by Fox News two years ago as an rising star in the Republican Party, Puerto Rican and Republican Governor Luis Fortuño is now being courted by the Wall Street Journal’s William McGurn as a possible Vice Presidential candidate for the 2012 Presidential race (Note: Fox Corp also owns the WSJ.)

Last week, Fortuño went on record to say he was committed to his job as Governor so the likelihood of a Fortuño running for VP is slight, but the fact remains: McGurn is well, clueless about the dynamic of Puerto Rican politics and its complex colonial relationship with the United States.

Puerto Rican Republican Governor Luis Fortuño

So in the interest of giving McGurn a crash course in the world of Puerto Rican politics and reality, we offer this analysis of his political fluff piece. (You can read the whole column here.)

Let’s begin with this excerpt:

Of course, a Fortuño vice presidential nomination is not without its possible downsides. For all the governor’s reforms, Puerto Rico’s economy continues to struggle. (Ronald Reagan and Mrs. Thatcher also had some grim years before their own economies picked up.)

In his third year as governor of Puerto Rico, the island’s latest unemployment rate as of October, 2011 is 16.1% (source, US Labor Department) When Fortuño began his first month as governor of Puerto Rico, the unemployment rate was 10.9%. So, if we have our math correct, that is a 5.2% increase in the island’s unemployment rate. For McGurn to suggest that Fortuño’s Puerto Rico is just facing some “grim years” like Ronald Reagan is beyond comprehension.

In addition, McGurn fails to even mention the exodus of Puerto Ricans from the island to the mainland. Here is what the 2010 US Census has to say about Puerto Rico’s population, which has declined over the last 10 years since 2000. In fact, Puerto Rico experienced its first population decrease since the 1970 Census. Here are the numbers from the US Census:

So, to summarize it for McGurn, his suggested choice for Vice President of the United States is governing a country with growing unemployment and a declining population. His administration, which McGurn applauds for its small government free market thinking, might have cut back the island’s public sector work force (in a way that would make Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker look like an AFL-CIO leader), but it has done very little or nothing to add any new jobs to fill the massive loss of jobs.

The reason is that Puerto Rico has no sustainable economic sector that could counter-balance the dramatic cuts in the public sector.

But let’s hone in a bit more on McGurn’s glowing praise for Fortuño’s toughness when it comes to government jobs.

Even as McGurn touts Fortuño’s actions to eliminate public sector jobs at the beginning of his administration, it should be noted that the largest sector (and largest growing percentage increase of jobs) on the island is still…. public sector jobs. Government jobs increased 3.2% in October, 2011, tying it for information jobs for the same month. The following chart from the US Labor Department reflects this:

A few other things to note about these statistics when it comes to public sector jobs:

  • In January, 2011, there were 262,600 government jobs in Puerto Rico. The figure for October, 2011 is 268,100.
  • In October, 2011, 1,071,100 people were employed in Puerto Rico. Of those total jobs, 268,100 jobs were government jobs, which is a 25% rate. So as much as Fortuño is seen as the private sector champion of the GOP by McGurn, 1 in 4 of all the jobs in Puerto Rico right now are still government jobs.

Grim years, indeed, Mr, McGurn. Government jobs being created while the country languishes at double-digit unemployment Are you saying this in 2012 Fortuño will pull a Puerto Rican miracle? We doubt it.

McGurn continues:

The murder rate is approaching record levels, largely because a crackdown on America’s southern border is pushing much of the deadly drug and weapons trade through the Caribbean.

All of a sudden, according to the Wall Street Journal, Puerto Rico has a drug and crime problem because there has been a push lately on the US Southern border, thus creating a scenario in Puerto Rico that will see its largest homicide rate on record. However, what McGurn fails to explore is this: Puerto Rico has had a drug problem since the 1970s, and the Fortuño administration has only paid lip service to improving the island’s crime rate (also convenient of McGurn to overlook the recent DOJ investigation of civil rights abuses by the Puerto Rican Police that Fortuño has tried to place political blame on others).

To be fair to Fortuño, his government is not solely responsible for the crime rate being so high these days, that is a product of decades of failed political leaders who have never truly solved what has become one of the island’s ugliest marks.

So where does this leave American voters as they begin to learn more about Fortuño? The reality is that 35% of the island thinks that the Fortuño government is doing a good job.

McGurn also seems to have forgotten the island’s credit downgrade this year. Add a publicly embarrassing student strike that made international headlines, and recent polls that show Fortuño losing to his main challenger, and McGurn must really think that Fortuño’s policies of high unemployment, drain of talent, a growing drug problem (can we say narco-state?), and you wonder what Puerto Rican utopia is McGurn describing?

Now, McGurn makes a point that Fortuño could indeed run for VP since he is an American citizen and that the Constitution doesn’t prohibit him. That is true, but what McGurn seems to forget is that if Fortuño were to maintain his residency in Puerto Rico, he would be able to vote for himself in a federal election since Puerto Ricans living on the island cannot vote in presidential elections.

So, in essence, if Fortuño were to get a VP nod, he would have to claim residency on the mainland, very likely in Virginia, where he used to live. We don’t think that those GOP voters who questioned the citizenship of President Obama would embrace with open arms a candidate from a US colony where Spanish is spoken?

McGurn goes on to bring out a few accomplishments of Fortuño, including the approval of the very controversial Gasoducto by the US Army Corps of Engineers, which has yet to reach complete approval. He fails to mention that this project, known as the Gasoducto, is facing strong and emotional opposition from groups on the island.

But perhaps the McGurn does his best with his closing:

Though there’s no constitutional prohibition against Mr. Fortuño’s serving as U.S. president or vice president—Puerto Ricans have been American citizens since 1917—perhaps the biggest issue is simply that the governor is not well known here. In our media-driven age, that means he would likely face a ferocious public vetting like the one directed at Sarah Palin when she was announced as John McCain’s running mate. In other words, some of the same things that are exciting about a Fortuño VP nomination could make it a distraction.

Then again, the payoff is potentially much higher than the risks. It is no dismissal of Marco Rubio (who has said he’s not interested in the VP slot) to observe that, as a Puerto Rican, Mr. Fortuño might enjoy greater appeal among the broad Latino community than a candidate from a traditional GOP constituency such as Cuban-Americans. In short, he might inspire a critical and fast-growing demographic to give the Republican Party another look.

Unfortunately, McGurn is getting some misguided advice by whoever in the GOP is trying to capture the essence of what it is to be Puerto Rican in 21st century America. McGurn fails miserably in putting Fortuño’s place within the political context of the island. The relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States ever since the island was invaded in 1898 and became territory is colonial.

The island nation of Puerto Rico has become dependent on an American political system that has converted it into a welfare state, living off federal money and handouts. Fortuño came in as the savior, the reformer, but his approach has been polarizing: instead of trying to work with parties (which is a trait that the vast majority of political leaders in Puerto Rico have been negligent), he plays the “politiquería” (same old politics) that pits Puerto Ricans against each other, both the ones who live on the island and the over 4 million people of Puerto Rican descent who live on the mainland.

Fortuño might be the smartest governor Puerto Rico has ever had, but he lacks the leadership qualities that have made Puerto Rican politicians a running joke for decades. If you think Americans don’t like the US Congress these days, visit San Juan and listen to what people have to say about their politicians.

Yes, Fortuño should be credited for understanding that this welfare system is no longer viable in a new world, but his idea is almost Napoloeanic: slash and burn and ask questions later. His policies have divided Puerto Rico more than ever, to the point that most Puerto Ricans concur that Fortuño’s legacy will go down as one of the saddest chapters in the Puerto Rican politics.

It is no wonder that as Fortuño faces a critical re-election bid where he currently trails in the polls, his tone is starting to shift to a more moderate one. Unfortunately, the damage has been done and unless the jobs (and the talent) come back to the island in the next 11 months, Puerto Rico will be clearly worse off than it was in 2008.

The Fortuño public relations campaign to redefine his image and change the conversation so that he is seen in a more positive political light has begun. Besides articles in the WSJ, he is starting to appears in tourism commercials on US TV touting the beauty of what the island offers, as if Puerto Rico right now is some escapist island paradise.

And they say on the island, Puerto Rico does it better, as in higher unemployment rates than any other state in the Union, higher murder rates, and higher social unrest.

But maybe McGurn is right. Maybe the GOP does want Fortuño as its VP choice.

Be careful what you wish for.

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Last week, the United States Department of Justice released a scathing report accusing the Puerto Rican police —the nation’s second largest police force— of serious abuse and civil rights violations. Now, the island’s federal woes continue, as The Wall Street Journal reported today about serious fraud charges and Social Security disability claims. As the article states:

[SSDI]© United Press International Inspector General Patrick O’Carroll

The inspector general, Patrick O’Carroll, told an audience at an Aug. 30 disability-examiners conference that the investigation was tied to a pharmaceutical plant that recently closed in Puerto Rico, with 300 employees losing their jobs.

Shortly after the layoff, 290 of the 300 former employees applied for Social Security disability benefits and they all used the same doctor, who lived far from the plant, Mr. O’Carroll told the audience. Mr. O’Carroll didn’t identify the doctor, whose identity couldn’t be learned.

Jonathan Lasher, an assistant inspector general at the agency, wouldn’t comment on the case, but said, “The office of the inspector general is continuing to pursue any number of fraud allegations in Puerto Rico related to the Social Security disability program.”

The investigation comes as part of a stepped-up presence in the U.S. commonwealth by the inspector general’s office following a March article in The Wall Street Journal that showed how much easier it is to win Social Security disability benefits on the Caribbean island compared with any of the 50 U.S. states.

In 2010, the Social Security Administration awarded benefits in 63.4% of its initial decisions in Puerto Rico, compared with much lower rates elsewhere. In Arizona, for example, benefits were awarded in initial applications in 35.6% of the cases. Nine of the 10 top U.S. zip codes for workers collecting Social Security disability benefits are in Puerto Rico, according to government data.

A spokesman for the Social Security Administration said in light of “statistical trends” in Puerto Rico it has asked the inspector general’s office to “make sure that these trends do not reflect an increase in fraud.”

The article continues:

Even though SSDI is a federal program funded by payroll taxes, initial decisions about whether someone qualifies are made by state officials because of the way the program is designed. Officials in the Puerto Rican government promised full cooperation with the probe.

“We strongly support the effort to investigate this case and any incident of abuse, and will partner with federal officials to eliminate fraud in not only the disability program, but in other federal health programs like Medicare and Medicaid,” Lorenzo Gonzalez, Puerto Rico’s secretary of health, said in a written statement. “As with any other federal investigation involving fraud with a federal program, if a physician is found to be performing unlawfully, we will move swiftly at the local level through the state licensing board to take whatever action is needed to halt the abuse.”

Mr. Gonzalez said these incidents “are not unique to Puerto Rico” and show the need for “standardized, clear cut guidelines” in determining how benefits are awarded.

Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate was 15.5% in July, higher than the 9.1% national average.

For those who have lived and worked on the island for decades, Puerto Rico has had an anecdotal history of abusing federal handouts and claims. The recent actions by the federal government confirm that the island’s economic relationship with the United States is being challenged and questioned, in light of the economic problems the federal government is facing.

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In an interview today with The Wall Street Journal, actress Zoe Saldana discussed the recent #ColombiaIsBeautiful campaign being waged to call attention to the movie COLOMBIANA. Por Colombia Nacional, an organization formed to educate people about Colombia’s history and culture, has appeared in several news stories about the campaign, and the WSJ now has Saldana on record discussing her thoughts about #ColombiaIsBeautiful. Saldana, who is Puerto Rican and Dominican, is a rising Latina Hollywood star.

WSJ: The nonprofit group PorColombia has launched a campaign against “Colombiana,” saying it portrays Latinos in a negative light. How do you respond?

ZS: Shame on them? I don’t know, I wish I knew how to address stupid unintelligent comments but I don’t, I’m not a stupid person. I’m sorry, I never like to get political but it’s just a shame that there are so many people out there that think so ignorantly. She could have been from Puerto Rico, she could have been from Goa, she could have been from China. But Luc Besson just wanted her to be from Colombia. Once you watch the movie, it has nothing to do with drugs, it has to do with violence. But violence lives in every city in every corner in every part of the world. So that said, PorColombia, are you kidding me? I’ve been trying to be diplomatic about it because I don’t want to be bitter. Why would you think that this was made in such a simple fashion?

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