Just when you thought Kobbo Santarrosa and his La Comay puppet character were in the clear, something else happens in Puerto Rico, and this time it involved a controversial gubernatorial candidate who said Tuesday that he plans to file a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) complaint against Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS) for using its public license to broadcast a show that continues to “promote racism and hate.”
“Puerto Rico needs to be rescued by those who sow hate every day. Puerto Rico needs a unity that is achieved with mutual respect,” Popular Democratic Party (PPD) candidate Eduardo Bhatia and his wife Isabel Fernández said in a statement.
The statement and call for a FCC complaint came after Santorrosa’s La Comay puppet character criticized the lineage of Bhatia and his wife, claiming they were not Puerto Ricans because of where they were born and also stating that Bhatia’s father was “practically from Pakistan or India.” The remarks about lineage came during discussion of how Bhatia, as a legislator, used to own bonds in Puerto Rico’s beleaguered public electric company, a topic he had to address this week once it was reported by Metro PR.
After claiming that Bhatia was actively participating in a boycott of the controversial puppet character, Santarrosa said the following under the mask of Comay: “And let me tell you. I’m going to be real honest and sincere. I am and will always be Puerto Rican. I consume what my country produces. Now, I love and adore our brother and sisters from other countries, but Puerto Rico has to be governed by a Puerto Rican man or woman.”
“Unfortunately, Eduardo Bhatia is from El Salvador. He’s Salvadoran. I prefer a Puerto Rican man or woman leading our country. And to have a First Lady at Fortaleza who’s from Panama, like Eduardo Bhatia’s wife, I would rather have a Puerto Rican woman instead, or have no First Lady at all in that case.
“Bhatia’s wife is Panamanian. He’s Salvadoran. Therefore ladies and gentlemen, little by little, [if we let this happen], who’s going to come and govern our country? We consume what we produce domestically. Eduardo Bhatia’s father—he’s practically from Pakistan or India.”
“There’s Pakistani or Indian blood running through the veins of Eduardo Bhatia.”
Here is a translation of the statement released Tuesday by Bhatia and his wife, which they described as “xenophobic attacks:”
Sobre los ataques xenofóbicos hacia mi familia desde MegaTV. pic.twitter.com/HLcZLLVksq
— Eduardo Bhatia?? (@eduardobhatia) July 28, 2020
I strongly reject and condemn the xenophobic attack against my wife Isabel, a woman who loves, has sacrificed and worked so hard for Puerto Rico. And I will not tolerate it.
I strongly reject and condemn the attack on my father, a great human being, humanist and economist, brought to Puerto Rico by Luis Muñoz Marín to collaborate in the creation of a new country.
I strongly reject and condemn the attack against my mother, a Puerto Rican woman who rooted my life in this my beloved homeland.
I strongly reject and condemn the attack against thousands of citizens from other countries who came here, became Puerto Ricans, and contributed so much to our country.
I strongly reject and condemn the attack against my Puerto Rican identity. I am true Puerto Rican and I have dedicated my life to selfless service to my country. I was born in El Salvador because my parents worked in that country fighting poverty, but I have no connection nor can I claim Salvadoran nationality.
Attacking us through the country of birth of our parents ignores that currently the first lady of Panama is a Puerto Rican married to a Panamanian. This is a source of great pride, since the history of both countries is long and fruitful. Likewise, the first lady of the United States was born in Slovenia, and Puerto Rico already had an American first lady.
I hope that my fellow Popular Party candidates share the same rejection. From Carmen Yulín, I am sure I will have your full solidarity. From Charlie Delgado, I hope to see a strong complaint today and not his complacency with the xenophobic, misogynistic, and racist agenda of that gossip show. In other words, I hope that in this instance, we will not see him laughing thankfully to a man who hides behind a doll, as he did after that character launched racist insults against Ana Irma Rivera Lassén. A mistake can be attributed to inexperience or carelessness. Two mistakes would suggest a pattern.
Over the next few days, we will proceed to file a complaint with the FCC and SBS Broadcasting for using their public license to enable the promotion of racism and hatred.
Puerto Rico needs to be rescued from those who sow hatred every day. Puerto Rico needs a unity that is achieved with mutual respect.
Latino Rebels, which has yet to get any official comment from SBS about La Comay’s anti-Black comments against Ana Irma Rivera Lassén in June, contacted the network for a response about what Santarrosa said on air about Bhatia and Fernández. As of this posting, SBS has not responded to the email. In 2013, WAPA-TV essentially canceled a previous version of La Comay in response to public outcry about Santarrosa’s history of racism, homophobia and yellow journalism. Santarrosa is also known to support members of the pro-statehood PNP party over the PPD party.
Bhatia, whose mother is Puerto Rican and whose father is from India, is currently running for the PPD gubernatorial nomination. The primaries are scheduled for August 9.
UPDATE, July 29, 2020: Yulín Cruz, who is one of three PPD candidates running for governor, tweeted her support for Bhatia and Fernández.
Mi total solidaridad con @eduardobhatia su esposa Isabel y su familia ante los ataques de tipo racista, machista y xenofóbico de un programa de chisme. El que tenga diferencias de visión con Eduardo en ningún momento puede interferir con lo que es correcto y justo.
— Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) July 29, 2020