Shadow Representative Roberto LeFranc Fortuño sent a letter to the U.S. Congress warning them of Russian interference in Puerto Rico’s political process. “I am writing to draw vour attention to a matter or grave concem regarding the interference or foregn agents and entities in our democratic processes in Puerto Rico,” he wrote. “It has come to my attention that Russia and its agents are actively engaging in insidious disinformation campaigns targeted at Puerto Rico and its residents, particularly in anticipation of the upcoming general primaries on June 2, 2024 and the subsequent Gubematorial, Congressional, State Legislature and Municipal elections on November 6, 2024.”

The letter details propaganda videos by RT, linking to two such videos which have now been removed from X (formerly Twitter). Russian TV is the state channel. @ActualidadRT is the Spanish-language X/Twitter account for the station, which broadcasts in English as well.

“These examples underscore the urgent need for concerted actions to address this threat and protect the integrity of our democratic institutions in Puerto Rico,” the letter continues. “The democratic institutions of the island are also being attacked by local left pro-independence parties associated to Latin-American communist groups such as the Sao Paulo Forum with local legislative candidates portrayed in the propaganda. We cannot allow foreign adversaries to manipulate our electoral processes and undermine the will of the people. Moreover, these campaigns have been specifically crafted against the repeated affirmation by Puerto Rican voters, in 2012, 2017 and 2020, rejecting the current territorial status and favoring statehood, signaling a clear demand for equality and full integration into the United States. This unresolved status, however, complicates our unity and weakens the U.S. position on the global stage, as adversaries continue to exploit these internal political divisions.”

Representative Carlos Gimenez of Florida responded, “I am extremely concerned about the interference of enemies of our nation who are interfering in Puerto Rico to support candidates who intend to turn the Isle of Enchantment into a communist disaster like Cuba or Venezuela.” The Floridian Press connected  the congressman’s concerns with his Cuban heritage.

Russian interference

The Guardian, a British news organization, described Russian interference in previous U.S. elections as “a social media shell game,” saying that they “used social media to sow social divisions in America by stoking disagreement and division around a plethora of controversial topics.”

The Guardian quoted former State Department representative as saying, “The broader Russian strategy is pretty clearly about destabilizing the country by focusing on and amplifying existing divisions, rather than supporting any one political party.”

The Associated Press reports that the same playbook is currently being used in Texas, where Russian social media accounts including RT were stirring up emotions with misleading anti-immigrant propaganda.

The recent attacks in Puerto Rico follow this pattern.

RT has published articles presenting views on Puerto Rico in the past, typically referencing Americans, including Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Pittsburgh academic Daniel Kovalic, whose opinion piece said, “Washington continues to maintain its colonial hold over territories such as Puerto Rico, Guam, Guantanamo Bay, and Hawaii, not to mention the fact that the entire territory of what is now known as the United States of America represents lands stolen from indigenous peoples and Mexico.” He then called for “referendums in Puerto Rico and Hawaii on independence.”


LeFranc Fortuño concluded his letter by asking Congress to “prioritize this issue and work collaboratively to develop and implement effective strategies to counter disinformation campaigns originating from foreign adversaries and defend democracy and the broader U.S. interests in Puerto Rico.”

Congressional hearings on Russian disinformation campaigns in the past have called for media literacy training, more aggressive responses from social media platforms, and sanctions against bad actors. Pen America has a tip sheet for citizens to help everyone recognize and quash disinformation.



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