Pro-Statehood Gubernatorial Candidate Defends Legislator Who Uttered N-Word on Puerto Rico’s House Floor

Jun 24, 2020
5:06 PM

Pedro Pierluisi in July, 2010 (Photo by Dennis A. Jones/Metro PR)

Two days after Rep. Junior Pérez Ortiz of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party (PNP) said the N-word on the floor of Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives, one of the island’s pro-statehood gubernatorial candidate is defending Pérez Ortiz in a statement first reported out by CBS News’ David Begnaud.

In remarks sent to Begnaud, Pedro Pierluisi, a Democrat and former Resident Commissioner who is running against governor Wanda Vázquez in the upcoming PNP primary elections, said in a Wednesday statement that while he rejects and disavows “all discriminatory actions of comments against any human being,” he added later that Rep. Pérez Ortiz’s “intent was not to insult,” but to speak to a “double standard used to judge controversial words of a statehooder radio personality, which were taken out of context, versus another who crassly insulted the governor directly.” The remarks added a plea to have all leaders “be extra careful” with the words they chose.

At no point in the statement did Pierluisi —who assumed the role after the resignation of Ricardo Rosselló in 2019 only to have Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court reject his constitutional claim and confirmed that Vázquez was the rightful governor— ever make reference to Pérez Otriz’s specific use of the N-word, which the legislator had later offered a half-apology for.

The context of the remarks come a week after Latino Rebels broke the news that former radio talk show host Luis Dávila Colón said the N-word on Univision-owned radio station WKAQ. Within 12 hours of Univision learning about what Dávila Colón said and how he said, his contract was terminated and his top-rated show “El Azote” was canceled. Since then, Dávila Colón’s supporters and statehood supporters online have been falsely accusing the Latino Rebels report as part of some bizarre leftist plot against the statehood movement. These same supporters tend to ignore the basic fact that Dávila Colón was let go by a private company for uttering a word on a public airwave that clearly violated his talent contract.

In addition, statehood supporters and politicians like Pérez Ortiz (and now Pierluisi) have tried to equate Dávila Colón’s situation to a now-deleted tweet by public relations specialist Julio Nuñez that called Vázquez “a pig.” Supporters claimed that Nuñez was Telemundo talent, and that the network should remove him from his job for his tweet, which he subsequently apologized for. However, when Latino Rebels spoke with Telemundo about Nuñez, it had no comment about the tweet because the network said he was not a Telemundo employee.

The N-word was uttered by Pérez Ortiz during a resolution for Dávila Colón that also compared the former talk show host to Rosa Parks. The legislative resolution presented by Pérez Ortiz was honoring and applauding Davila Colón merely days after his firing by Univision. Several opposition politicians called for the N-word to be stricken from the public record but to no avail. In addition, Dávila Colón said that he rejects any resolutions in his name and encouraged politicians to move on.

Democratic observers who work in the Washington, D.C.-San Juan space have expressed dismay privately over Pierluisi’s remarks, adding that someone of his stature who represented Puerto Rico as a non-voting member of Congress as Resident Commissioner would have a better understanding of how charged of a word the N-word is, no the matter the context.


Julio Ricardo Varela is founder and publisher of Latino Rebels, part of Futuro Media. He tweets from @julito77.