They say that politics in Puerto Rico can be a bit like kindergarten. As much as the island's politicians aspire to a higher standard, they are just not ready for the big time. When politicians sling mud over Krispy Kreme donuts and sex toys, you know that it is a different world on the island colony. Now the fight has moved on to Twitter, where an adviser (and Chief of Staff) to Jenniffer González, Puerto Rico's Speaker of the House, has taken her opposition to the President to another level: just tweet out your racist opinions for the entire Internet to see.
Yesterday, El Nuevo Día reported that Heidi Wys Toro, one of González's top advisers and her Chief of Staff, sent the following tweet on July 26 as a response to a tweet sent out by the President's official Twitter account.
Granted it was not the first time Wys Toro has expressed her opinions about the President, as the following tweet from June 18 shows Wys Toro's birtherism bent:
The Twitter gaffe from July 26 has sparked a bit of a controversy on the island, with González, who represents the island's pro-statehood party, basically saying that nothing was wrong. In addition, González has distanced herself from the tweets and issued a statement on July 30. In a statement, González suggests that opinions such as the ones being discussed in Puerto Rico are "unacceptable," even though González did not specifically discuss Wys Toro in the statement.
Earlier this week, Governor Luis Fortuño was asked to comment and said that he wasn't even aware of the tweets, while other politicians have chimed in. Wys Toro's tweets did elicit reaction from Melissa Mark Viverito, a New York City Councilor from Manhattan. Mark Viverito is of Puerto Rican descent and El Barrio in East Harlem is one of the neighborhood she represents. This is what she said about Wys Toro's tweets:
“Heidi Wys’ comments against the President are vile and disgusting, and represent the height of ignorance I am sickened by the continued racist attacks from prominent political figures in Puerto Rico. Instead of setting a civil tone and engaging in a responsible debate, Ms. Wys has stuck by comments that are inflammatory, highly offensive and continue to demonstrate the deep-seated racism that abounds in Puerto Rican political and social discourse. I call on Ms. Wys to retract her comments and issue a real apology. If she continues to spew this kind of hateful and ignorant diatribe, she should be fired. I also call on all Puerto Rican elected officials to denounce these racist statements.”
Meanwhile, Wys Toro took to Twitter on July 30 to defend her tweets and the press' reaction to it. Here is what she tweeted:
5:30 pm: EST "To the journalists who want to take issue with my comments about Obama: IAmNotRacist. My most beloved nieces are dark-skinned! I am ANTI OBAMA! I will fight him!"
6:13 pm EST (in response to a story by NotiCel in Puerto Rico): "@noticel My most beloved nieces are dark-skinned! I fight Obama with all my heart and passion, as a descendant of Germans!"
This is not the first time this year that a member of Puerto Rico's pro-statehood movement has been criticized for racist remarks made via Twitter. In May, Zaida "Cucusa" Hernández, a former president of the Puerto Rican House of Representatives and an adviser to González, had to apologize for a tweet that compared Rafael Cox Alomar, the Popular Democratic Party's (PPD) candidate for Resident Commissioner, to Yeyo the chimpanzee, who had died in a Puerto Rican zoo.
Granted, we know that there are millions of people who don't agree with the President, but you would think that some people, especially those in political positions, would actually THINK before they TWEET. We tend to agree with Mark Viverito on this one. You can have disagreements with a President, but you gain very little when you take your opinions to ignorant and racist places.