Two Weeks After Conceding Puerto Rican Election, Luis Fortuño Asks for an Official Recount

This afternoon Puerto Rican governor Luis Fortuño formally requested a recount of the election he conceded two weeks ago to governor-elect Alejandro García Padilla.

Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño

According to a breaking news report by Puerto Rico's El Nuevo Día, the electoral head of island's pro-statehood New Progressive Party (PNP), Edwin Mundo, said that the initial preliminary certification by the island's official election commission (CEE) was not accurate and that the margin of García Padilla's victory will now be smaller, enough to ask for a recount. 

With 100% of all precincts reporting, the CEE's main site shows the following tally.

Fortuño trails by García Padilla, the pro-commonwealth candidate, by 12,971 votes. The current tally falls outside the .5% margin that would trigger an automatic recount (the current margin is 69%). The voter spread is much more than the 100 vote spread that would also force a recount. The official letter from Mundo, according to END's piece, requests that once the .5% is reached, a manual recount should be made. However, according the END, the head of the CEE admitted that there are now about 20,000 votes that still need to be counted, and that the .5% could now be reached.

Luis Fortuño Loses… And Puerto Rico Wins

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT JULIORVARELA.COM

Last night the island of Puerto Rico experienced a historic election. Not only did Puerto Ricans go to the polls to vote for Governor, Resident Commissioner, and other legislative positions, they also voted in yet another non-binding plebiscite that tried to determine whether Puerto Ricans favored its current commonwealth relationship with the United States, and if not, whether it favored statehood, independence, or associated free state.

The biggest news of the night was that Republican pro-statehood incumbent governor Luis Fortuño of the island's New Progressive Party (PNP) lost his re-election bid to Alejandro García Padilla, the Democratic pro-commonwealth challenger of the island's Popular Democratic Party (PPD). The independence candidate, Juan Dalmau, as well as the other third-party candidates, didn't even play a role in the tally, which is still being counted. The following screen shot showed the latest results as of this morning, with over 96% of the precincts reporting. The Fortuño loss confirmed what many Puerto Ricans had said all along: his policies and personality were too polarizing. While he was being praised by FOX News for being a new Latino conservative, Fortuño could not break away from his critics and detractors. Double-digit unemployment and a consensus that Puerto Rico was heading in the wrong direction, a Gasoducto project gone bad, and the Ley 7 protests gave García Padilla the little boost he needed.

Of course, it wasn't a landslide and with pro-statehood Democrat PNPer Pedro Pierluisi winning his re-election bid for Resident Commissioner, the Fortuño loss is not a clear mandate for García Padilla. He is going to have to work with the PNP since the role of Resident Commissioner (the island's non-voting member in Congress) is seen as the island's second-in-command. Pierluisi is Puerto Rico's Washington voice and the uneasy alliance between the PPD and PNP will be interesting to watch, to say the least.

Yet I will argue that this is all a good thing for Puerto Rico, since no matter what García Padilla or the PPD are saying today, the island's formal Washington-San Juan relationship is now a bipartisan status  issue (it doesn't hurt that both García Padilla and Pierluisi are Democrats). And given the results of the plebiscite, that is a good thing. A really good thing. Which brings us to the status questions, and why in the end, Puerto Rico wins. Here are the latest results. Question 1 basically asked if Puerto Ricans prefer to keep the status quo (commonwealth) or reject. The status quo was rejected. (FYI, there were over 64,000 blank votes, more to come on that.)

García Padilla, Puerto Rico's governor-elect, favored a YES vote. He lost. When it came to what options Puerto Ricans favored (statehood, independence, free associated state), here are the latest results:

Statehood was what Fortuño favored, and so did Pierluisi. So in essence, Fortuño won this one. However, it gets complicated when one takes into account that over 468,000 votes (so far) were blank for this category, which is the strategy García Padilla declared. Because a blank vote meant that you were voting for the status quo, which by the way was already rejected in Question 1. Therefore if you take into the account the blank votes, here is where it stands:

Let's face it, García Padilla made a strategic mistake on his part, and that is actually great thing for Puerto Rico. Here is why: Question 1 basically said NO to the status quo, which is what García Padilla favored. Question 2, which only listed three options (BLANK was not an option), made statehood the winner. As uncomfortable as that makes García Padilla today, the reality is that political games that telling people not to vote backfired.

Voting BLANK doesn't count. It doesn't mean anything. It just means BLANK. It means you didn't want to vote or even provide an honest choice, especially since Question 1 already rejected the status quo or the BLANK people were trying to defend in Question 2.

If the PPD were smart and savvy about Question 2 and if they wanted to have statehood lose the vote, they should have pushed for either independence or associated free state, or they would have initiated a real write-in campaign for the status quo. But they didn't, and this morning they are left defending a political system that around 1 million Puerto Ricans don't want and a status option the PPD can't support. Already, García Padilla has lost control of the status agenda. He will be forced to resolve it by engaging those who favor other options.

So governor-elect García Padilla needs to be careful right now. He cannot start his administration by refuting and ignoring the results of the plebiscite. He will be making a huge mistake in putting the political history of the PPD ahead of a vote that clearly says that the status quo must change. I am not suggesting that García Padilla should all of a sudden push for statehood, but what he SHOULD do his first day in office in tell Pierluisi to demand that Congress move the process on resolving Puerto Rico's political status. Staying stuck in the past will keep the island in neutral and eventually going backwards, instead of doing the right thing and putting the people over one political party's stubborn preference.

Many Puerto Ricans will criticize Fortuño, and those criticisms have merit, but Fortuño should be commended for establishing a plebiscite process that rejected the status quo and initiated a real tangible dialogue about where Puerto Rico goes next. García Padilla, if he is smart enough, could actually go down as the Governor who finally moved the needle on the island's status and resolved it. He can also thank Fortuño for that because that is why leaders do: sacrifice politics for the greater good, even if it means losing your own election. 

Now for a different take on this, read what my dear friend Gil the Genius has to say about it. This time around, we follow different paths about yesterday's results and come to the same conclusions: we need more "adults" in Puerto Rican politics. The PPD leadership missed a huge opportunity to be "adults" and to clarify the plebiscite question by actually fully participating in it, instead of trying to be clever about it. Being clever is the old way. Being honest about where Puerto Rico goes next is the new way. Here is to the new way. It will win.

***

Julio (Julito) Ricardo Varela (@julito77 on Twitter) founded LatinoRebels.com (part of Latino Rebels, LLC) in May, 2011 and proceeded to open it up to about 20 like-minded Rebeldes. His personal blog, juliorvarela.com, has been active since 2008 and is widely read in Puerto Rico and beyond. He pens columns on LR regularly. This year, Julito represented the Rebeldes on CBS' Face the NationNPR,  UnivisionForbesand The New York Times.

VIDEO: What Americans Really Think of Puerto Rico

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT JULIORVARELA.COM

So, this interview from Fox Business' Varney and Co. with Puerto Rico Secretary of Commerce José Pérez-Riera is quite telling. The level of ignorance from the American media is sad. Let's get this straight: you can disagree with Pérez-Riera, but the interviewers should at least respect the guy. When will Puerto Ricans wake up and demand that the US media be more respectful to Puerto Ricans? This has gone beyond politics, this should now be about Puerto Ricans banding together and saying that they will no longer be treated like the little colony that the US media has portrayed them to be.

Now, people laughed at me when I wrote the following piece last year called Why Puerto Rico Will Never Become the 51st State. My main argument is that there are many Americans (especially those in the conservative media) who have no clue about Puerto Rico and actually don't want Puerto Rico to become a state.

Americans will never accept a flag with 51 stars in it

Americans will never accept a flag with 51 stars in it Well, this latest clip from Fox News Business just confirms my original thesis. Wake up, Puerto Rico, the United States media does not care about the status question. And Pérez-Riera is a pro-statehooder whose leader is a Republican governor. It is bizarre, but it does not surprise me any more.

By the way, the news has been spreading around the island.

 

***

Julio (Julito) Ricardo Varela (@julito77 on Twitter) founded LatinoRebels.com (part of Latino Rebels, LLC) in May, 2011 and proceeded to open it up to about 20 like-minded Rebeldes. His personal blog, juliorvarela.com, has been active since 2008 and is widely read in Puerto Rico and beyond. He pens columns on LR regularly. This year, Julito represented the Rebeldes on CBS' Face the NationNPR,  UnivisionForbesand The New York Times.

What I Learned (and Didn’t Learn) From Tonight’s Debate on Puerto Rico’s Status

Originally Published at JulioRVarela.com

Tonight, Puerto Rico's Noticias 24/7 broadcast a debate to discuss the island's upcoming November 6 political status plebiscite. The moderated forum featured pro-statehood Governor Luis Fortuño, pro-independence candidate for governor Juan Dalmau, and  Luis Delgado, who supports a freely associated sovereign state.

I could get into the details and try to encapsulate decades of political status history into this post, but that would only complicate matters. All you need to know is this: Puerto Rico has been a commonwealth (some would say "colony") of the United States since 1952 and a US territory (some would say "colony) since American troops landed (some would say "invaded") on the island in 1898. In 1917, Puerto Ricans became (some would say "forced to become") US citizens. On the island, Puerto Ricans do not have the same political rights as American citizens who live on the mainland. To some, this only proves how colonial Puerto Rico is. To others, this confirms that Puerto Ricans on the island are just second-class American citizens stuck in status limbo. Add to the fact that Puerto Ricans on the island fight for the United States, receive federal benefits and entitlements from the US, but then represent Puerto Rico in the Olympics, cry when Miss Puerto Rico is named Miss Universe, have immense pride in their boricua-nessand are still a people with a strong national identity, and you can see how complicated this issue really is.

In addition, let's mention that some Americans would rather cut off Puerto Rico from the federal rolls even though generations of Puerto Ricans have defended Americans' rights and freedoms, and it gets really complicated. Wait a minute, there is a Spanish-speaking island that is part of the United States? When did that happen and why are we allowing it to happen? You get the idea. (For more on this anti-Puerto Rican sentiment in the United States, you can read a column I wrote over a year ago.)

Finally, since the plebiscite is non-binding, and in essence nothing could ever happen until the US Congress decides to reopen the status process for Puerto Rico, Puerto Ricans are literally voting for an issue they have no control over. Congress owns you, Puerto Rico. At least for now.

The whole status question is… complicated. Like really complicated.

At tonight's debate it got even more complicated because not everyone's position was represented. You see, the first part of the two-question plebiscite asks Puerto Ricans if they would like to maintain the current territorial relationship with the United States. The three debate participants who accepted Noticias 24/7's invitation all agreed that NO is the only option for Puerto Ricans. The one person favoring a YES vote, the Popular Party's Alejandro García Padilla, Fortuño's main challenger in the gubernatorial election (also on November 6), didn't even show up at the debate. You would think that García Padilla knew about a poll where 51% of Puerto Ricans actually favor a YES vote to the first question, and you would also think that if this were his position, he would have had the political courage to get up in front of a televised debate and defend his position. Especially when the guy you want to defeat in a few weeks is also debating. García Padilla didn't, and it was a costly mistake. I actually think Fortuño will win the governor's race now.

And I also think that García Padilla's absence hurt the entire YES position as well. While Fortuño, Dalmau, and Delgado could all agree on a NO vote even though they would disagree on the second part of the plebiscite—which asks voters to choose either statehood, independence or freely associated sovereign state—tonight's debate proved to me that a NO vote is now the only option for Puerto Ricans. Why? Because in the end, even though Congress doesn't have to do anything, a public vote that would reject the island's current status will get attention. Voting NO gives Puerto Ricans a chance that Congress would maybe revisit the status question. Voting YES would keep the status quo and last time I checked, this commonwealth ride needs to end. Fortuño, Dalmau, and Delgado would concur. Puerto Rico really hasn't improved at all and the "colonially entitled society" is still reality. Now I could have been convinced that a YES vote would actually still be possible, but the guy who supports the YES vote wasn't at the debate. Fail.

As for Delgado and his position on a "freely associated sovereign state?" Let's just start with the term. It's way too long. However, in theory, this status option is the best of both worlds: it allows for Puerto Rico to have a more flexible arrangement with the United States without having Puerto Ricans lose their US citizenship (at least that is what Delgado and others hope). Less dependence on the US economy could occur, since it would give Puerto Rico the ability to negotiate with the US on issues pertaining to the island. For example, Puerto Rican ports could be open to ships from others countries, allowing for more economic opportunities. This arrangement would also maintain many of the things that make Puerto Rico unique, both linguistically and culturally. 

Now there is theory and then there is the selling of that theory. I thought that Delgado didn't do a great job selling this option to Puerto Ricans. It felt muddied and too complex. I can't recall if Delgado really presented a concrete example or an explanation that basically tried to answer the question that always hounds this option: how is this different from the current setup? Delgado was correct in saying that a NO vote is the way to go for the first part of the plebiscite, but in his push to promote his option, his biggest point was that Puerto Rico would work with the United States to determine its destiny. Couldn't we just do that now? What is to stop us from just determining our own destiny and then letting the US know our intentions? We really need a vote for that?

Fortuño, quite frankly, gave the most coherent argument, even though it was an argument that, at times, felt like a politician overpromising the world. Fortuño—who is facing a very tough re-election campaign (we will see after tonight's gaffe by García Padilla) and a Puerto Rican economy that is still stuck—basically used the promise of statehood as the cure-all for Puerto Rico's problems. Need jobs? Let's become a state. Want more federal money? Let's become a state. Let's lower the crime rate? Statehood is the only option.

I thought Fortuño did give the best line of the night when he shared his thoughts about the status quo: "I believe Puerto Ricans will reject what holds us back." I believe that, too. Most Puerto Ricans I know feel that change must indeed happen, and with García Padilla not attending the debate, his absence only solidified that need for change.

The governor's strongest argument for statehood should have been the only one he should have used: equal rights and political representation. In essence, that is the biggest prize—Puerto Rico could get six-seven members of the House of Representatives, two Senators, and also the right to vote for President. No one can question that, even though Fortuño won't let Puerto Ricans know that many Americans aren't really gung-ho about a predominantly Spanish-speaking state of the Union.

Furthermore, Fortuño was savvy enough to know that many Puerto Ricans living on the mainland (particularly those in Florida) were watching the debate, so he made it a point to remind people (twice) that Mitt Romney has already promised that if Puerto Ricans vote NO on part 1 and STATEHOOD on part 2 and if Romney got elected President, a new President Romney would begin the statehood process. That sure are a lot of "ifs."

And Fortuño really stretched the statehood hard sell by saying that not only will Puerto Ricans get more federal aid (more than 2 billion dollars), they won't really need to pay federal taxes, since most Puerto Ricans don't earn enough to pay federal taxes. Yes, this is coming from a Republican governor, and the last time I checked, Republicans in general don't like the fact that 47% of Americans aren't paying taxes right now. Weird, huh? Welcome to Puerto Rico, where down is up and up is down.

Which brings me to Dalmau, the standard-bearer for Puerto Rico's Independence Party. Dalmau is sharp and I have to say that his points about Puerto Rico's highly dependent economic relationship with the United States and how Puerto Rico is seen by many as just another playground of US corporations are good ones. Has Puerto Rico's progress been snuffed because we are still a US colony? Many would agree, and it would be hard to argue against that. In addition, Dalmau's distinction between citizenship and nationalism and how they are not the same also resonated. He was also quick to point out the island's long and vibrant history, as well as the legacy many of its independence leaders have formed.

Yet Dalmau missed one very important point: how will Puerto Rico succeed once it becomes independent? Why didn't he talk more about that? In the end, Dalmau didn't give many specifics and that is the one issue that still troubles many when it comes to independence. It still feels like unchartered territory.

 

Finally, Dalmau's critique of Puerto Rico being the world's "last colony" will always speak to the hearts of many Puerto Ricans. But how effective is this call to elevate the colony to a new status when in the end Dalmau is just as passive as everybody else? Has the repression of the independence movement in Puerto Rico really succeeded? It appears so, since Dalmau would rather participate in a plebiscite that is still dependent on the United States instead of taking control of the plebiscite and demanding that the will of Puerto Ricans be heard.

And that is the biggest problem with tonight's debate. All three speakers (and the guy who wasn't there) were never active with their comments and remarks. It was all about pushing for a non-binding vote that may or may not send a message to the United States. The debate and the politics surrounding it still assume that the United States is the Big Daddy and Puerto Ricans are just kids asking for the car keys. What if Daddy gets angry? What do we do then?

True political courage and leadership occur when people step away from the same talking points that got them to where they are and begin to literally alter the discourse. I would have had more respect for all the speakers tonight if they stood there and announced that the plebiscite would be binding and it would lead to real self-determination. I would have had more respect if the speakers told people that they should have their family members living on the mainland begin to pressure elected officials in Congress and called for a binding vote. I would have had more respect if the speakers tonight took control of their destiny. Now. Like right now. What would have been more powerful—a televised debate that didn't reveal anything new or a rally among all of the island's political parties live streaming into Washington DC saying that Puerto Ricans' voices must be heard?

Instead, the island of Puerto Rico is still playing games and the biggest charade is the question of political status. No one is truly taking this seriously because it is all part of a system that has been central to the island's politics for decades. Just dangle illusions of status and maybe just maybe the United States will listen to us.

Tonight, the people of Puerto Rico could have screamed in unison: ¡BASTA YA! Our destiny is in our hands and no one else's. However, all I heard were the same old tired whimpers. I am done listening to the arguments of the past. Are you? And if so, what are you going to do about it?

***

Julio (Julito) Ricardo Varela (@julito77 on Twitter) founded LatinoRebels.com (part of Latino Rebels, LLC) in May, 2011 and proceeded to open it up to about 20 like-minded Rebeldes. His personal blog, juliorvarela.com, has been active since 2008 and is widely read in Puerto Rico and beyond. He will pen a weekly column on LR each week. Recently, Julito represented the Rebeldes on CBS' Face the NationNPR, and The New York Times.

After Letting LuisFortuno.Com Expire, Pro-Statehood Leaders Now Cry “Cybersquatting”

Like we said a few days ago, imagine if BarackObama.com were taken over by Republicans or if MittRomney.com was now controlled by Democrats. In essence, that is what happened to Puerto Rican governor Luis Fortuño (a pro-statehood Republican) whose 2008 campaign site LuisFortuno.com was never renewed by his campaign and has recently become the property of Fortuño's main opposition, the island's Popular Democratic Party (PPD).

As a result, the PPD is running a very effective anti-Fortuño ad under the the governor's own name. The ad has gotten close to 20,000 views this week on YouTube.

Now, a leader of Fortuño's party, the New Progressive Party (PNP), is saying that the PPD is guilty of "cybersquatting." Here is what one outlet is reporting (translation is ours):

Sen. Melinda Romero has denounced the criminal acts of "Cybersquatting" by the Popular Democratic Party (PPD), its president Alejandro Garcia Padilla and his campaign manager Irving Faccio for the alleged theft of the Fortuño's domain name for his site.
 
Romero said that that there are many cases where a cease and desist has been ordered to stop using a stolen name.
 
"This case has no controversy because the populares have admitted to stealing the name with the intention of harming the person who owns the name," Romero said in a statement.
 
On Tuesday it was reported that Fortuño did not pay to renew the web domain luisfortuno.com so the populares bought and began posting messages against him.
 
On the other hand, Romero said that the important thing is not the use of the name but that "we are going to show how these people like to steal, lie and commit fraud. Today we are formalizing our petition to send a communication to the PPD to cease this fraud. That will be the first step before going to the ICANN (ICANN is the nonprofit organization that oversees the system of domain name registration), and then file a complaint in federal court. With this action we will demonstrate the serious consequences that of cybersquatting, if it is left unchecked. "
The PPD senator also said that she has contacted US firms that specialize in fighting cases of cybersquatting. 

"As a matter of fact [these firms] have won multiple cases claiming stolen domains. Cybersquatting is the bad faith of someone to use the domain name or trademark of another person, with the intent to harm or extort money from the owner."

Although Romero's statement is clearly trying to paint the PPD as liars and cheaters (welcome to politics), the fact remains: this problem would have never existed if Fortuño paid the money to retain the rights to his domain. We're talking less than 20 bucks a year? And granted, the PPD has admitted that it does indeed own the domain name, and even if Romero sues the PPD, cases like these take time. We doubt that the site would be taken down before the November elections. Welcome to Politics 101. It's ugly out there.

Maybe Romero and her PPD colleagues should do a little more homework. Cybersquatting is annoying and it is a problem, but since the current LuisFortuno.com site is not asking for money, it will be a stretch. A quick Google search about how to avoid cybersquatting reveals some additional information. Here is just one example:

Can [cybersquatting] really happen? Is this legal?

Yes, it can and does happen everyday.

Is it legal?

Depending on the situation, site owners may have legal recourse (e.g. trademark infringement lawsuits or arbitration). However, even when a cybersquatter is breaking the law, it can be time-consuming and expensive for a site owner to win a legal judgment, especially if the cybersquatter is located in a different country. In some circumstances, it is possible to reclaim names through domain arbitration, however this can cost thousands and can take many months. Full-blown domain-related lawsuits can take years and cost tens of thousands of dollars. The easiest (and cheapest) way to prevent most cybersquatting is to register a few basic variations of your company name before the damage is done. 

Meanwhile, the PPD continues to rub it in. For example, the PPD's official Twitter account shared the following receipt that shows how much it cost them to renew LuisFortuno.com:

Even if Fortuño and the PPD initiate a cease and desist order on the site, it appears that it might take some time. And with less than 50 days left until the election, by the time Fortuño get his domain name back, it might be too late.

One Website of Governor Luis Fortuño Expires and Opponents Take It Over

Yesterday, the website LuisFortuno.com, which used to be the official website of Puerto Rican governor Luis Fortuño's campaign in 2008, appears to have a new owner: Fortuño's major political opponent, the Popular Democratic Party (PPD). The election for governor is this November, and the PPD is pulling no punches. Here is a screen grab of LuisFortuno.com, which shows that the page is now being sponsored by the PPD:

The following video is playing at LuisFortuno.com right now:

It appears from the history of the site that the Fortuño campaign allowed for the domain name to expire. Here is a screenshot of the site from this past May:

Here are screen shots from 2008 and 2007 when Fortuño was running for governor and used LuisFortuno.com as his campaign's main site:

Fortuño's official 2012 site is PorPuertoRico2012.com, but you would think that his campaign could have paid the little money you need to maintain the ownership of your actual name's URL. It's as if BarackObama.com or MittRomney.com expired and the opposing party was now controlling the content from the new site. Politics truly has become a digital battle. Now more than ever.

Is Luis Fortuño Working for the Democrats?: A Guest Rebelde Post by Raúl Colón

A Guest Post by Raúl Colón (@rj_c) of RaulColon.net

In history we have seen how an agent provocateur can cause the masses to create more chaos.

Last night I realized how much I had underestimated Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño. He might be working for the Democrats after all. 

Being a great spy is about keeping your real objectives private. In the past it should have been easier for Mata Hari, Nathan Hale, and other famous spies to keep their real identities a secret. Now with so many open platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google +, we're all part of a transparent world, and for some reason Fortuño always seems to fly below the radar.

After his colleague Zoraida Fonalledas was inundated by loud chants of  “USA, USA” the day before, Fortuño took the stage at the Republican National Convention, and the audio team made sure they drowned out any boos from the crowd.

After analyzing all the events, I realized that it was all staged to have all the racists Republicans blow of their steam with the Scapegoat, I mean Zoraida Fonalledas, so they could all join in a roaring applause when Fortuño took the podium the next day. Who would have thought that the same people who speak of harsh immigration laws would applaud an immigrant himself, a person who has some U.S. citizen rights, except the one that eludes him: the right to vote for President.

Thanks to CNN and its live feed, I saw Governor of Puerto Rico (whom I have always thought of as a Republican Hispanic Puppet) appear on the stage. And that is when it hit me: Fortuño must be working for the Democrats.

During his speech, I came up with the five reasons why:

1. He did not prepare for his speech.

I have seen Fortuño speak on many occasions. I know he is not the most talented speaker, but last night he definitely did not prepare for his speech. The last thing you want to do is walk into a Republican convention and say hello to Puerto Rico before you even say hello to the USA. It might be ok for a Reggeaton star to get up on stage and say, “Hello, Puerto Rico!” when he is not actually on the island but this might not fly well with Republicans who the day before where chanting “USA, USA, USA” in Hacksaw Jim Dugan style. If he wanted to unite the 10 Puerto Rican Republicans who live on the Island with the rest of the GOP, this is not the way to start.

2. His 2008 Campaign Slogan Was a Copy of Obama’s Slogan

In 2008 Fortuño took Obama's slogan of “Change” and used it for his campaign. I have to say he did bring change: he left tens of thousands of government employees without a job while lacking structure to have those people get jobs in the private sector. The crime rates in Puerto Rico have risen, and small business owners are struggling to keep their businesses afloat operating at a loss the last 4 years, and in my case losing my home to foreclosure.

3. His Fake War Stories

Fortuño has made up a series of stories on how he supposedly helped a soldier at Walter Reed when he was the Court Jester in the House of Representatives in Washington (also known as Washington's Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico). The part I don't get is that I hear so many terrible stories from veterans that are not getting the right services locally on the island. As a territory, Puerto Rico takes care of more service members than many other states with bigger populations. Apparently Fortuño visited one veteran out of the thousands that needed help, especially those who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Republicans are big fans of their military; Fortuño could really care less. By contradicting what Republicans clearly stand for once again we can see how Fortuño puts the image of the Democrats above his own party.

4. Lack of Influence

I thought it was irresponsible for Fortuño to represent Latinos in the United States because of his lack of influence as the Governor of Puerto Rico for those he holds office for. Lack of influence will hurt the Republican Party more than it can help. Low approval ratings and being a spokesperson to gain Latino votes is a Republican recipe for disaster.

5. He Endorses the Losing Candidate

In 2008 Fortuño stood up and endorsed McCain during the election. His speech was not as sloppy as last night’s and still McCain lost the election. In this case supporting Romney put the scale in favor for Obama to win.

I have analyzed Fortuño for the last eight years and I realized that he continues to fly under the radar while giving Republicans a bad name.

I asked myself: why he doesn’t he employ his stealth tactics and intelligence to improve the well-being of Island residents? But then I quickly remind myself his clear objective is making Republicans look bad on the Island and on the mainland.

If Fortuño had improved the well-being of the Island, I would like to see the results from his actions instead of the words he repeats in every interview he makes.  

If Republicans would accept the reality of Fortuño being a failure for his Island, they would think twice before making him go around and try to gather the Latino vote.

Any other reasons you might think Fortuño is a true Democrat? 

***

Raúl Colón (@rj_c) is one of the top social media rockstars in Puerto Rico. He is known for his ability to connect authentically with many people online, and his blog RaulColon.net is known for its superior insight into social media as well as issues regarding Puerto Rico.

Latino Rebels welcomes guest posts for publication. That is how we roll. And if you don't agree with what the author says, feel free to submit your post and we will consider running it. 

The Puerto Rican Olympic Hypocrisy: Pro-Statehood Governor Now Pushing Olympic Pride for Politics

Leave it to pro-statehood and GOP darling Luis Fortuño to conveniently stop being a pro-US-statehooder during the London Olympics. The last few days, Fortuño, who is facing a tough re-election this November, has suddenly become one proud boricua during Puerto Rico's Olympic efforts. Never mind the fact that as someone who fervently supports Puerto Rico becoming the 51st state of the Union, Fortuño knows that in a tough election year, you got to wrap yourself around the Puerto Rican flag and overlook your political principles.

We will got out on a limb and say that if Puerto Rico were to become the 51st state of the United States, it would no longer be an Olympic country ;(there is a federal law that trumps the notion that Puerto Rico's Olympic Committee can still survive under statehood), but what does that matter less than 100 days before an election? The irony of a passionate pro-statehooder like Fortuño now sounding like the other pro-commonwealth and pro-independence candidates he has criticized for exploiting Puerto Rico's unique boricuaness is quite telling. ;

But don't tell that to Fortuño and his campaign, since they have become Facebook addicts the last few days. Here are just a few of the posts from the official Fortuño51 page (yes he even has a 51 in his Facebook URL):

First off, change your Facebook Page cover image to exploit a picture of you and the family of bronze medal winner Javier Culson. Umm, the little girl to the right of Fortuño looks absolutely thrilled to be next to the governor.

Then start posting photos of different athletes and pushing Puerto Rico's unique pride and love for the Olympics. Here are just a few samples of what Fortuño and his campaign posted yesterday. ;First off, send everyone a personal Facebook post:

Then post your first Culson pic.

Post another Culson pic an hour later. Go viral.

Then an hour later, raise the city flag of Ponce (Culson's hometown) over La Fortaleza, the governor's mansion.

The Olympic Facebook blitz began on Fortuño's page over the weekend. Here are a few more screen shots of what the page posted:

Here is the hypocrisy: Fortuño is head of a statehood party (the New Progressive Party, or PNP) that wants to become a state of the Union, no ifs, ands, or buts. However, if Puerto Rico were to become a state, there is no more Olympic team for Puerto Rico. This hasn't stopped ;Fortuño and his campaign from pushing Olympic pride the last few days. Talk about being inconsistent in your messaging.

In addition, many PNPers who have commented on these Fortuño posts and the posts of the PNP think that if Puerto Rico were to become a state, the Puerto Rican Olympic team would still continue because there is an Olympic charter. Yeah, right. Memo to the PNPers: the United States trumps you on your desires to keep the Puerto Rican Olympic team intact.

All this boricua pride and flag waving would go away. Puerto Ricans would become part of the US team, and give or take a Culson or a few boxers, the chances to make the bigger team would be slim.

If Fortuño were truly the pro-statehooder that he was, he would be pushing the US team's feats to his followers. But that would not make any political sense, since it is clear that even Fortuño will admit that when it comes to being politically convenient, it is best to push the boricuaness to the masses instead of staying true to his statehood message. But, hey, fuzziness is all part of Puerto Rico's politics. We do find it amazing that many on the island buy it because it is coming from Fortuño.

A little advice to the PNPers: If you want to become a state, put away the Puerto Rican flags and start chanting "USA USA USA!"

Are you ready to do that? Are you?

Julio (Julito) Ricardo Varela (@julito77 on Twitter) founded LatinoRebels.com (part of Latino Rebels, LLC) in May, 2011 and proceeded to open it up to about 20 like-minded Rebeldes. His personal blog, juliorvarela.com, has been active since 2008 and is widely read in Puerto Rico and beyond. He will pen a weekly column on LR each week. Recently, Julito represented the Rebeldes on CBS' Face the Nation, NPR, and The New York Times.

Fortuño Appears on FOX’s STOSSEL and Presents a Bizarro Puerto Rico Full of Public Relations Fluff

Originally published in JulioRVarela.com

There is journalism and then there is fluff. FOX's "STOSSEL" show is fluff. One-sided agenda journalism at its worst.

Republican and pro-statehood Puerto Rican governor Luis Fortuño, the incumbent who is trailing in polls to an opponent who has his own issues, is trying to put a spin on an economic situation on the island as he runs for re-election.

Strategy #1: Get on a show where you get the most softball of questions from a supposed journalist.

As for John Stossel?

Try asking actual factual questions, like: Why is your island still stuck at 15% unemployment? Why is your labor force shrinking? Why is public sector employment still growing? If you are so popular, why are you not leading in the polls, even though you claim that you and your opponent are "dead even?" And why are young people leaving the island for jobs in the United States? Also, Fortuño should take credit for one thing: cutting taxes since the rate in Puerto Rico was actually much worse than the mainland, so all he did was bring it down to US levels. So, basically, it is not like Fortuño cut taxes to levels that are favorable.

Sure, taxes in Puerto Rico were high, how hard was it to lower it to levels that match the US?

And why should you need facts to tell your story when you are running for re-election as an incumbent and losing in the polls?

To the Fortuñistas, the following video is the central focus on their re-election campaign.

To the rest of Puerto Rico, it is a sham. And Stossel? Do some more homework about Puerto Rico, and stop pretending that you are all of a sudden an expert about it.

Charges of Voter Fraud by Puerto Rico’s Pro-Statehood Party Taint Local and GOP Primary Results

In politics, when your opponent lashes charges at you, you pretty much know that it is part of the game, but when those in your own camp start making the same charges,, chances are you have major problems to resolve. Such is the case of Puerto Rico's New Progressive Party, the island's pro-statehood party, whose leader, governor Luis Fortuño, made sure that his PNP put on a good show and prove to Mitt Romney that Romney would win Sunday's GOP primary in a landslide. Fortuño delivered, as the final Puerto Rico results confirm. Romney got 82.85% of the vote (99,909), Santorum got 9,676 (8.02%), independent Buddy Roemer came in third with 2,670 votes and 2.21% of the vote, while Newt Gingrich won 2,462 votes (2.04%) and Ron Paul earned just 1,476 votes and 1.22%. As for Fred Kruger, nice job to beat out Paul, and you gotta love the fact that Roemer beat out Newt and Paul.

However, there are now charges that the PNP and the Republican Party of Puerto Rico committed voter fraud. El Nuevo Día reported the following on March 19. A delegate for Ron Paul and an observer to the primary process both said in written statement that the were not enough election officials at the polling sites, some sites had opened late or changed their hours without notice, and there were not sufficient ballots in some sites. The charges also went to say that this was just part of the PNP's electoral machine to deliver a resounding victory for Romney.

Another article this week quoted the island's PPD (Popular Party) Election Commissioner, who said that such a fraud was embarrassment to the primary process. The commissioner also added that the PNP's endorsement of Romney (through Fortuño as the party's leader) put other Republican candidates at a disadvantage.

"This could be fraud in our electoral process and we would be seen as fools in the process of the Republican primaries," PPD Election Commissioner Eder Ortiz said.

The PPD also sent an email to supporters saying that these fraud charges inflated voter numbers by 50,000 and they shared the following chart to make their point (this applies to the local elections). Basically, the PPD charges that the PNP added votes to the rolls and that there was little oversight.

In the meantime, the PPD confirmed that 200,000 PPD supporters voted in the local primaries.