Op-Ed

Puerto Ricans are not always Democrats

President Donald Trump hands out canned goods and other supplies at Calvary Chapel on Oct. 3, 2017, in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.
President Donald Trump hands out canned goods and other supplies at Calvary Chapel on Oct. 3, 2017, in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. AP

Re Andrés Oppenheimer’s Nov. 16 column, “The stampede of Puerto Ricans to Florida is bad news for Trump:” The number of Puerto Ricans who have moved to Florida since Hurricane Maria exceeds 150,000. If they register to vote and remain in Florida, they will probably transform future trends in political elections. However, I disagree with Oppenheimer’s premise that they will benefit Democrats, in revenge against President Trump.

Although the situation in Puerto Rico continues to be a disaster, with a recovery much slower than we all would have liked, it is not Trump’s fault. Maria was an unprecedented storm — a natural disaster bigger than any confronted by the federal government in the modern era. The lack of communication and electricity, and the distance to the continent by sea made a quick recovery impossible. Congress, at Trump’s request, has allocated almost $10 million for the recovery, and there is another $20 million in consideration. Puerto Rico will rise, in large part, because of federal aid.

Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico are not liberals. They are conservatives. Many polls show that Puerto Ricans living in Central Florida registered as Democrats consider themselves conservatives (www.PR51st.com). That is, they are a “floating vote,” aligning themselves with whomever seems best. This floating vote in 2004 carried George Bush to the presidency; Mel Martinez to the Senate; and Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008 and 2012. In 2016, it stayed at home, not voting for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who lost.

Trump still has a ways to go to secure the Puerto Rican vote in Florida. But trying to politicize the misfortune of our brothers and sisters on the island is embarrassing. We are all grateful for the unprecedented help that is being offered by the administration of President Trump. Together, we will raise a better Puerto Rico.

Jose Fuentes,

former attorney general,

Puerto Rico

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