President Obama will hop aboard Air Force One and travel to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rice on June 14, next Tuesday….
By going there he will fulfill a pledge he made during the 2008 campaign season to return as President…
(He went to the island twice to camapign in 2008)
American President’s don’t get to PR too much….
The last visit by one was decades ago…..
Obama will find Puerto Rico a place of contrasts….
A Republican Governor…
A population divided between statehood and keeping the Commonwealth….With a sprinkle of people holding out for Independence…
A place with an unemployment level above 15%….
A place with more of its countrymen/woman residing in the US than on the Island…
A place that sends its sons and daughters to join the American military…..
But not vote….
Obama will visit to get a view and to fundraise…
But the people of the island will want him to address the same issue that dogs the mainland….
Crime and Jobs…..
On his whirlwind stop, the president is expected to meet with Puerto Rico’s governor, Luis Fortuño, a Republican who supports statehood, attend a business round table, deliver a speech in Old San Juan and attend a quick fund-raising event. He will also encounter a throng of “Obama Go Home” protesters — Puerto Ricans who want the island to break free of United States control.
Other presidents have visited since 1961 but only on business unrelated to Puerto Rico. President Gerald R. Ford visited the island in 1976 to address the Group of Seven economic summit, and President Lyndon B. Johnson stopped at a military base in Aguadilla in 1968 to inaugurate a military aircraft.
“This is huge,” said Pedro R. Pierluisi, a Democrat and Puerto Rico’s nonvoting representative in Congress. “No president has been here in 50 years. It tells the world that he cares about Puerto Rico.”
“Some say he is coming here with political motivations,” said Mr. Pierluisi, who sat outside a local Starbucks. “I say, ‘So what?’ Presidents should care about us and come down here and familiarize themselves with our issues. It should be so. We should be treated fairly and responsibly.”
Mr. Obama will arrive at a vulnerable time for this Caribbean island of 3.7 million people. Hit hard by a recession that began here in 2006, Puerto Rico has an unemployment rate that remains stubbornly high, 16.2 percent in April, compared with 9 percent on the mainland. The island has also been rocked by a sky-high murder rate, much of it related to the drug trade, which has led to widespread anxiety.
Being careful to keep expectations in check, Puerto Ricans say they are nevertheless hopeful that Mr. Obama will speak about the economy and crime and make mention of Puerto Rico’s longstanding identity crisis regarding its political status. Few Puerto Ricans have forgotten that when Mr. Obama came here twice to campaign during the primary against Hillary Rodham Clinton (he lost), he promised to return to the island as president and to resolve Puerto Rico’s status during his first term…..More…..
(Photo of Obama in one of his 2008 Camapign visits to PR…..Photo Source….uliorvarela.com )
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