Puerto Rican GOP Delegate Tells NBC Latino: “USA! USA!” Chants Not Directed at Her

Aug 29, 2012
11:35 AM

This morning NBC Latino's Sandra Lilley and Adrian Carrasquillo published on-the-record comments from Puerto Rico's Zoraida Fonalledas, the chairwoman of the GOP’s permanent organization committee, who said that yesterday's bizarre scene where chants of "USA! USA!" drowned her out as she stepped up to the podium at the Republican National Convention were not directed at her.

Here is an excerpt from the NBC Latino piece:

…contrary to reports, [Fonalledas] was not the object of “USA, USA!” chants when she stepped up to the podium to announce the RNC committee during the convention’s opening statements, and assured she was caught in the “Ron Paul” convention flap.

“There was a group who wanted Ron Paul delegates to be counted; they were protesting the way it worked out,” says Fonalledas, who was about to start making her statement when “USA! USA!” chants can be seen coming from a group of Ron Paul delegates.

“They were not happy with the rules, but we are in a democracy; we had a meeting, they did not have the votes, and we have to unite,” she said. Fonalledas says she also said “USA!” as the chants grew louder.

“We’re here to defend the U.S. and to make sure we are united as a party.”

The incident has become a YouTube viral sensation, getting over 146,000 views in less than 12 hours.

Fonalledas also told NBC Latino the following:

Fonalledas as well as other RNC delegates insist she was caught in the Ron Paul “crossfire” and that is the extent of it.

“It’s time to unite behind Romney and Ryan, and move ahead with our message,” says Fonalledas.

Nonetheless, the scene was still awkward and weird, and we are pretty sure that it is not the type of moment the GOP wants publicized. 146,000 views on YouTube so far. There is a reason why it issued the following statement yesterday:

During today's Republican Convention Committee Reports, the Ron Paul followers exercised their right to free speech and protested the report by the Committee on Credentials. The Report by the Chairwoman of the Permanent Organization Committee followed. The protesters continued their boisterous protest of the Credentials Report which spilled over to the rest of the proceedings. To be clear, the attempt to disrupt the proceedings had to do with the report, not the Puerto Rico National Committeewoman. Puerto Rico and its delegation play a very important role in this Convention, and are an integral partner in the National Committee.

As for Fonalledas? Considering that she can't even vote for president (Puerto Ricans are US citizens, but those who live on the island do not have a vote in national presidential elections), this whole issue has become the irony of ironies. Our Facebook community has had a lively debate about it, and most agree that even though the initial chants were a product of what happened before Fonalledas appeared on the stage, the moment was still very awkward and the "optics" (h/t to Lilley and Carrasquillo) don't help in the GOP's quest to gain more support with US Latino voters. We are also guessing that you won't be seeing many RNC officials in San Juan any time soon.