The Macondo Effect: Why Mitt Romney’s Win in Puerto Rico Means Nothing

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.


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 around 150,000, 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. 

Today on ABC, Santorum Rambles On and On About His Puerto Rico “English Only” Position

This morning GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum made an appearance on "ABC This Week." Besides saying that his opponent Mitt Romney is more like President Obama than other GOP candidates and that he accepts an one-to-one debate with the former Massachusetts governor, Santorum tried to explain his position again about English Only mandates. In our opinion, he has no concept about Puerto Rico, its history, or its complex political dilemma. Although, he does make a point about Romney's Puerto Rico pandering, yet he seems to forget that this week he called himelf "Senador puertorriqueño."

Santorum said the following about his English Only comments (around 7:50 into the video clip below):

"There were [English Only] requirements put on other states when they came into the Union that English be the principal language and that it be taught and spoken universally in those states. There were several states, where as you know, there were other languages spoken in the Southwest, Oklahoma, Hawaii, and so it was a condition of admission to statehood and that's simply what I've said, only 15%, according to the Census, are fluent in English in Puerto Rico and what I've said is that obviously Puerto Rico is a Spanish-speaking country, a Spanish-speaking island, not a country, but Spanish-speaking island, they will continue to speak Spanish and that's their culture and they have every right to do so, but what I've said is that there should be fluency in English as well as Spanish and that, if they want to, and I think that it's just makes sense, just like here in this country, I mean, Governor Romney and I have both said that we would like English as the official language of this country yet when Governor Romney went to Puerto Rico he said, "Oh, no you don't have to speak English as a requirement to be a state," yet he wants English to be the official language of this country. This is the hypocrisy of Mitt Romney to go and pander for votes, knowing full well that there is no way that he would stand for that as Puerto Rico coming into statehood without having proficiency in English, yet to get 20 delegates, he is willing to say whatever he needs to say in order to get those votes, yet I'm hopeful that the people of Puerto Rico see through the charade of what Governor Romney will do to get votes."

Here is the entire interview.

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Luis Fortuño Pushes Puerto Rico’s GOP Primary and Mitt Romney on Facebook

Maybe the governor of Puerto Rico finally realized that he should take control of his official Facebook page and not let his admins run the page for him. Today, as Puerto Ricans go to the polls for the GOP presidential primary, Fortuño has been posting status updates on his site, urging his fans to go out and vote for Mitt Romney. It might have been all the Spanish spelling errors his admins were posting that could have spurned the pro-statehood and Republican governor to take over his page again.

Case in point: Earlier this week, Fortuño's page was displaying a Facebook banner that contained a very obvious typographical error in Spanish. Here is what the page used to display: a quote that was missing an accent on the "Tú," basically making his quote grammatically wrong.

Now the page shows the Fortuños with the Romneys. And without his Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, a Democrat who is also a member of the island's New Progressive Party (PNP), which supports a statehood solution for Puerto Rico. Pierluisi has been very public about his opposition to the GOP candidates, especially about their opinions about Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

In addition, after the following post was made earlier this morning (spelling errors and all), Fortuño took over his page and started posting with the initials LGF:

The last posts now show LGF being the king of his Facebook page:

The strange week in Puerto Rico's politics is coming to an end. It started with Fortuño having a private meeting with Rick Santorum, even though the governor had publicly endorsed Romney. Santorum also caused a ruckus with his English Only comments, and then the Romneys stepped in with Open Letters to Puerto Rico and making strange comments about how Puerto Ricans are all about "hugging and kissing." This is what the WSJ wrote about on Ann Romney's Puerto Rican experience on Thursday night:

“We have already warned them that people in Puerto Rico are very enthusiastic about politics, so I think they’re getting ready for hugging and kissing,” said Lucé Vela, Mr. Fortuño’s wife.

Mrs. Romney confirmed as much based on her meeting a night before with many of Puerto Rico’s delegates.“We had a very wonderful private dinner,” Mrs. Romney said. “Again, a lot of hugging and kissing.”

In the meantime, the mainland media got a dose of the crazy world of Puerto Rican politics:

Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Día reports that the American press seemed a bit surprised by the festivities surrounding the recent political campaign events in Puerto Rico. American journalists, who were in Puerto Rico this week covering Mitt Romney's campaign ahead of Sunday's primaries, described their experiences on Twitter and other social media sites with irony, and apparently found the experience "surreal," El Nuevo Día reports.

But El Nuevo Día notes that the campaign event where Romney spoke was "a typical party for a Puerto Rican campaign: music, fireworks and long speeches. All in Spanish. These speeches were surprising for journalists who are used to shorter, more restrained events."

RAP NEWS 12 “Yes We Kony?” Viral Video Breaks It Down

Here's one creative take on Kony 2012.

Very clever and it actually raises good questions.