Sunday, May 18, 2008

Michelle Obama Says Hola in Puerto Rico

Since the 1898 invasion during the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico is an archipelago under the dominion of the United States of America. As such, the commonwealth along with other territories and entities like the District of Columbia, Guam, US Virgin Islands have unique roles in selecting US presidents. There are elected people running around DC nominally representing their people in the House of Representatives, but they absolutely get no committee chairmanships, electoral college votes or federal senators. Hawaii, which became state number 50 in 1959, still has vigorous protests about the American overthrow of their Queen Liliuokalani and it annexation. Native Hawaiians recently overtook the palace to demand sovereignty. In the case of Puerto Rico, no votes for them in US presidential general elections. However, during party primary campaigns, those citizens do have pledged delegates and get to colorfully announce their choice at each of the late summer party conventions.

This year an eighteen month quest for the Democratic Party's nomination winds up or down in Puerto Rico. Voting in Puerto Rico is not monolithic due to urban and rural concerns, education, ethnic mixes where a mix of citizens are direct descendants of African slaves and/or those with Spanish heritage from the days of Christopher Columbus. Puerto Rico's Governor, Anibal Acevedo Vila, is an ardent Obama supporter with federal investigations hanging over his head. Puerto Rico has 63 precious Democratic delegates at stake on their tourist laden island south of the Bermuda Triangle that are an airplane hop, skip or a boat ride from Haiti and other hot spots in the Caribbean.

Off and on, domestic island battles rage at varying temperatures of high drama between Puerto Rico's own political parties as to whether to become a state, usually split among the main two PNP/NPP or Partido Nuevo Progresista de Puerto Rico (statehood) or declare independence PIP/PDP Partido Popular Democrático de Puerto Rico(sovereignty) . Puerto Rico did not escape the red blue media gerbil divide either. There is also a much smaller party of independents that use the color green. Into this primordial primary soup presidential candidates, well Democrats, and their top surrogates, find themselves gingerly wading or storming the beautiful beaches for votes this year.

An elegantly ruffled Michelle Obama was in Puerto Rico making the case for the fave soon to be nominee, Barack Obama. Chelsea Clinton bravely went to Puerto Rico to stump for her Mom after previously trekking to Hawaii where all things political were decidedly for the guy born there, Obama. My niece and nephew were also born on Oahu at the humongous coral pink Tripler Hospital. Both Mrs. Obama and Chelsea toured a hospital in San Juan. A sensitive US Navy denied and rejected Chelsea's bid to use the Viques base as a backdrop.

In the city's colonial district, Michelle Obama greeted the steering committee for her husband's campaign. She said only Puerto Ricans should decide whether the island will continue its commonwealth status, become a U.S. state or opt for independence.

"That's an issue that should be decided by the voters here. Self-determination is a critical part of democracy," Michelle Obama told a local TV reporter.

Much of Puerto Rican politics revolve around the island's relationship to Washington, with islanders about evenly divided on the issue.

Meanwhile, an insipid Tennessee GOP decides Michelle is the candidate to viciously attack rather than Barack. No sweat, fresh from Puerto Rico, Michelle, along with hubby Barack beat the Eugene, Oregon heat ordering chocolate for her and a mint chip and green tea combo for him of ice cream.

After traveling in Puerto Rico and a host of states, Michelle looks forward to going home. It will never be the same. She has to move in 9 months to a larger residence.

We can brush up on the history of Puerto Rico from this hard bound one volume book on the island's history. From authors César J. Ayala and Rafael Bernabe comes Puerto Rico in the American Century: A History Since 1898 to help us become much more knowledgeable.

No comments: