New York Councilman Ritchie Torres is the Democratic nominee for the 15th District in the South Bronx, the congressional seat Rep. Jose Serrano has held since 1990. The 15th District is a consistently Democratic-voting district, so it is expected that Torres will replace Serrano in the November election.
Torres has indicated that he will be an open supporter of statehood for Puerto Rico. As Kevin McClinktock Batista explained in a recent El Nuevo Dia op-ed, “Torres believes in full equality for the American citizens of Puerto Rico, equality that he understands can only be achieved through statehood.”
McClintock-Batista continued, “Those of us who follow the Puerto Rico issue in Washington know that the argument that tends to dominate in Congress, driven mainly by certain large corporate interests with their immobilized allies, and amplified by a widespread feeling of apathy, is that status is a very complicated issue that should only be discussed among Puerto Ricans.”
The result has been a feeling that Congress should wait until Puerto Rico has sorted everything out, rather than stepping in with a solution to the human rights issues of equality and representation in Puerto Rico.
Torres sees the human rights issues
Torres, by contrast, has called out the inequality inherent in the current relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico. In his op-ed piece in the New York Daily News, Torres wrote, “As Americans, we must speak out forcefully against the de jure disenfranchisement of our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico, for it represents a deep rot at the very core of American democracy, not to mention a manifestation of the very systemic racism against which millions have stood in protest.”
Torres made his mark in the New York political scene with a focus on affordable housing. He was also the first openly gay candidate elected to the city council from the Bronx. His track record on human rights makes Torres a logical champion for Puerto Rico statehood.
He is also representing his constituency. A recent poll showed that 69% of New York voters favor Puerto Rico statehood.
“Whether on the continent or on the island, it is evident that statehood is consolidating itself as the preferred option for the vast majority of Puerto Ricans – a fact that cannot continue to be ignored,” McClintock Batista explains.
“The new generation of Puerto Ricans is overwhelmingly anti-colonialist,” he concludes, “and Ritchie Torres is emerging as an important leader in the urgent matter of ending colonial status and beginning to rebuild Puerto Rico.”