Esta página no está disponible en español.
THE ORLANDO SENTINEL
All Is Forgiven For Rock Stars And Politicians
BY Maria Padilla
May 7, 2003
Orlando's Hispanic community is a lot like a small town: There are few secrets because everybody knows everybody else. And that's how I came across the following bit of information.
The folks heading up former Puerto Rican Gov. Pedro Rosselló's 2004 election bid are hoping to tap into the pockets of his legions of Puerto Rican followers in Orlando.
Luis Berríos, a member of Rosselló's island campaign committee, has asked his friend Enrique Vilella of Orlando to look into establishing a local campaign committee.
"It's always important to keep in touch with Puerto Ricans in the states," Berríos said.
Especially in the Orlando area, probably the fastest-growing Puerto Rican community in the nation.
Orlando would be one of several cities with a Rosselló campaign committee, Berríos said.
It's unclear how the former governor may be received elsewhere, but during his two terms as governor, Rosselló was immensely popular among Puerto Ricans in Orlando.
He always seemed to keep an eye out for folks in the City Beautiful.
It was Rosselló who opened the Orlando Office of the Government of Puerto Rico, which is based in City Hall. He held a Hispanic summit at a Walt Disney World resort. And he once received a rousing ovation at Gateway High School in Kissimmee, where he gave a speech.
Rosselló would be crazy not to tap into this base -- except that he left office in a hurry. He literally abandoned the island just minutes after current Gov. Sila Calderón was sworn into office.
Since then, the island has been rocked by scores of political scandals involving his administration, which have tarnished his reputation.
Vilella isn't sure how Orlando's Puerto Rican community will react to Rosselló's comeback, although the former governor's return to the island was marked by a huge rally.
In addition to his popularity in Orlando, Rosselló has other attributes that may sway people here.
In the past two decades, many Puerto Ricans who favor island statehood have made Orlando their home. Some folks even organized pro-statehood groups here. That likely is the main reason Rosselló, who also favors statehood, kept his eye on Orlando. The two are of one mind.
In addition, people on the island treat politicians like rock stars. As we all know, rock stars are bad boys and that's part of the fans' attraction. All is forgiven when a rock star goes astray, even one whose administration has embarrassed many Puerto Ricans with what has got to be the most profound case of political corruption the island has ever seen.
Many of the former governor's supporters, including Berríos, argue that he launched many important infrastructure projects on the island that shouldn't be overlooked, including massive water and transportation projects.
(Puerto Rico is building an urban train system, while Orlando still is considering light rail.)
So the answer to Vilella's question of whether Puerto Ricans in Orlando will support Rosselló is simple.
Like their counterparts on the island, of course they will.