SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — President Barack Obama may have been in Puerto Rico for only four hours, but his brief fundraising visit has unleashed a growing political furor in this U.S. Caribbean territory.
Legislators of Puerto Rico’s pro-statehood ruling party say they are resentful that he swooped in to raise about $1 million and did not offer any help or solutions as the island battles a soaring crime rate and higher unemployment compared with any U.S. state.
One legislator threatened to derail one objective of the president’s June 14 visit: to woo Hispanic voters on the mainland in his quest for re-election.
Local Sen. Melinda Romero, a delegate of the island’s chapter of the Democratic Party, said she has demanded an apology from Obama and will travel to the U.S. next week to meet with Puerto Rican leaders in key states including Florida and New York.
“The President did not bring anything to the table,” she said in a statement issued late Friday. “His visit only served to take away dollars, just like they take away our young people to war.”
She also demanded that he return the money raised.
The irony of all this is that Puerto Rico can’t even vote in presidential elections. He took the cash, most likely corporate cash, gave another garbage speech and immediately flew home.
It’s mindboggling the way this man can disenfranchise people without shame, with a smile on his face, and only in 4 hours. It’s especially jarring since he is going to need the Latino vote to have any shot in 2012.
But then again, shooting one’s self in the foot is the Democratic Party’s Way.