Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican serving Florida, recently visited Puerto Rico as part of his campaign for president. Residents of Puerto Rico vote in presidential primaries and send delegates to the Republican National Convention, so candidates often campaign in Puerto Rico.
Rubio attended a rally in Santurce and spoke to the press.
“That is his opinion,” Rubio responded. “I am here in Puerto Rico, I am going to get asked questions by Spanish media, I am going to answer in Spanish. I don’t want some translator to translate what I said.”
Rubio’s family is of Cuban heritage. He wrote an editorial piece in Spanish for Puerto Rico’s newspaper, El Nuevo Dia, in which he vowed to “create favorable conditions for a Puerto Rican renaissance as part of a new American economy in the 21st century,” if he becomes president.
The article (which is available in English at Medium) also included Rubio’s ideas on Puerto Rico’s status:
Ultimately, Puerto Rico’s status must be resolved, and its unequal treatment by the federal government must end… Already, during a 2012 referendum, Puerto Ricans made their aspirations clear by rejecting the status quo and choosing statehood. Puerto Rico deserves to take the next step, something America has offered to its territories since 1787 when it first opened the door to the creation of new states, even before adopting our Constitution.
Puerto Rico should have a federally-sponsored vote on the island with two choices: become a state or not. If a majority of Puerto Ricans votes yes, Congress and the next president should respect their will and do what’s necessary to admit them as the 51st state.
Rubio’s visit was meaningful to people in Puerto Rico and also to the people who have moved from Puerto Rico to the U.S. Mainland. One such resident, Gregorio Matias, was quoted in LancasterOnline saying,
“I’m going to call all my relatives and tell them to vote for Rubio,” he said, adding that they live in Florida, New York, New Jersey and Wisconsin. “Rubio offers what Puerto Rico has been waiting for: that we be treated as equals, not as third-class citizens.”