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Obama’s presidential visit excited many but uncertain whether it’s enough to woo Latino votes second time around

June 15, 2011

Colonialism or freedom!

President Barack Obama visited Puerto Rico yesterday in a five-hour tour many described as political propaganda for his re-election campaign amid growing unemployment on the island reaching depression levels at nearly 20 percent in his attempt to woo the Latino votes in the United States especially in the swing states of Florida where there are over 800,000 Puerto Ricans concentrated second to the Cubans. It’s the first time a sitting president travels to the island of 4 million since John F. Kennedy visited in 1961. However as Democracy Now video reported earlier

“His trip comes as controversy grows over a proposed 92-mile natural gas pipeline that would cut across much of the island. Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuño has made the $450 million project a central goal of his administration and insists it is a safe and environmentally friendly way to lower utility bills. Called Vía Verde (Green Way), the pipeline has been dubbed Vía de la Muerte (Death Route) by critics who say it will expose people living near it to deadly explosions and cause irreversible damage to the island’s environmental and cultural resources.”

Also, the trip comes in the aftermath of  two earlier reports (2005, 2007)   the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status issued during the Bush administration though both focus on the political status of Puerto Rico. Obama has expanded the role of the Task Force to include other issues covering, job creation, education, health care , clean energy and economic development on the island. So eighteen individuals mostly white came together from every cabinet agency though a Latina served as one of the co-chairs  issuing a report on March 2011.

Three months since the report issued little has been publically reported on how the recommendations  implemented while the unemployment rate on the island continues to sky-rocket as some Puerto Ricans during Obama’s visit burned the American flag protesting the continual grip of U.S. colonialism on the island that directly impacts not only its political status but economic conditions. And many disapproved of  President Obama’s fund-raising events where he raised a  few million dollars for his campaign treasury during a time of devastating economic plight on the island.

Although Puerto  Ricans on the island only vote in the primaries, the presidential visit symbolic, economic conditions worsen as well for Puerto Ricans in the states and the likelihood many of them to join the Obama camp the second time around is uncertain.

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