Originally published in the Puerto Rico Herald in 2005.
Puerto Rico already has an outstanding leader for statehood. This proven leader for statehood is not Pedro Rosselló. It is Luis Fortuño, Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner.
I have been following Fortuño’s modus operandi in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is not ego driven. He does not come across as a politician hungry for personal power. Instead, he has demonstrated on several occasions that he is truly a statesman and diplomat representing the people of Puerto Rico. He does his work in Washington in a very quiet, behind the scenes manner. He is not out to grandstand for headlines and the evening television news. Every move he makes is predicated on how his words and actions will advance the statehood of Puerto Rico and assure other federal benefits for his people.
Luis Fortuño is a Republican and I am a liberal Democrat. I voted for him to be our Resident Commissioner because in my gut I knew he was highly qualified. Today, I am extremely pleased that I voted for him. He has friends among Democrats as well as Republicans in Congress.
Fortuño is obviously respected by President George W. Bush and members of his White House staff. The members of the press in the states and on the island also respect him. He is not like a pitbull always fighting with anyone who does not agree with him one-hundred-percent. He knows that “you can attract more bees with honey than with vinegar.” He knows how to unite instead of to divide. He is proudly for political convergence where it is possible and makes sense.
A picture is worth a thousand words. In The San Juan Star (Feb. 26) is an article and photo that says a lot about Luis Fortuño’s qualifications to be the best qualified leader to promote statehood for Puerto Rico in Washington: “Rep. Young doesn’t rule out authoring status bill.” Accompanying this news report is a photo of Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño chatting with U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska). Fortuño and Young are smiling. It is obvious that they are close friends and enjoy being in a huddle to discuss what is best for Puerto Rico and its people. What is remarkable is that this photo can be repeated many times with Luis Fortuño chatting with other members of Congress from both parties and the White House staff. Luis Fortuño knows how to make friends and not political enemies. He is a pro at winning friends and influencing people!
In this Readers’ Viewpoint letter, I would like to apologize to Luis Fortuño. In my STAR letter of February 21 — “Can’t Fortuño smell the moral and financial corruption?” — I stated my disappointment that Luis Fortuño is supporting Pedro Rosselló over Kenneth McClintock for the Presidency of the Puerto Rico Senate. I have since learned from a highly reliable, but confidential source, that Fortuño was misquoted by the reporter who wrote this news report. At no time did Fortuño indicate who he is supporting.
The photo of Luis Fortuño with Don Young says a lot about Fortuño’s ability to make good political relationships to advance statehood. Can you think of any possible photo of Pedro Rosselló in a similar friendly photo with any member of Congress or the White House? Luis Fortuño is on track and doing an outstanding job in promoting statehood in Washington. He should not have to deal with interference from a self-serving, ego-driven, backroom political boss.
Sending Pedro Rosselló to Washington, as the statehood leader, makes as much political sense as sending Barbara Streisand to the Annual Meeting of the National Rifle Association to promote more sensible legal control of guns.