Governor Fortuno spoke at the Republican National Convention last week, Luce Vela Fortuno introduced Ann Romney and Resident Commissioner Pierluisi will be speaking tonight at the Democratic National Convention. (See it live on CSPAN at approximately 6:16 pm EST).
What can we learn from this?
- Puerto Rico’s importance is being recognized. Although the island territory doesn’t have voting representation in Congress and its residents cannot vote for president, Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans are relevant to the rest of the United States. Its 3.7 million residents are U.S. citizens who join the U.S. military in great numbers to fight for their country. There are 4.7 million people of Puerto Rican descent who live within the fifty states. Puerto Ricans are often viewed as swing voters who do not vote as a bloc for a single party, and their influence is heavily felt in Florida as well as other key states that could determine the presidency. The coveted invitations to Pierluisi and the Fortuños show that mainland political establishment realizes the importance of Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans.
- Puerto Rico’s status is not a partisan issue. Pierluisi and the Fortuños were invited to speak by their competing national political parties. The Republican and Democratic platforms both acknowledged the importance of resolving Puerto Rico’s political status. The tenor of both conventions has trended partisan, but the issue of Puerto Rico’s political status has stayed above the fray.
- Puerto Rico’s involvement is not a stunt. There is much talk about the political parties “chasing the Latino vote” or “wooing minorities.” While there may be truth to this statement, Puerto Rico is important in and of itself. Both conventions highlighted plenty of other Hispanic speakers; organizers did not need to include Puerto Ricans in the speaker line-up, especially in a role as prominent as introducing Ann Romney. The fact that Puerto Ricans were given prominent speaking roles in both conventionsspeaks to the respect and trust they have earned in Washington and throughout the fifty states.