Although Suffragio doesn’t normally wade into U.S. politics, Puerto Rican politics lies fairly far afield from mainstream American politics, notwithstanding the plum role that Fortuño will fill tonight at the convention in his support for U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Fortuño was elected governor of Puerto Rico in 2009, winning 52.8% of the vote to just 41.3% for the incumbent, Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, who had been implicated in a corruption scandal. As governor, Fortuño immediately embarked upon a relatively unpopular program of cutting $2 billion from Puerto Rico’s budget, resulting in over 12,000 layoffs of state employees. Fortuño also passed and implemented Law 154, which imposed a temporary excise tax on certain overseas sales, while also cutting taxes 50% for individuals and 30% for businesses. Ultimately, Fortuño brought the budget deficit from $2 billion in 2009-10 to just $333 million in 2012-13 — his zeal for cutting budgets and for lowering taxes has attracted a significant amount of regard from Republicans on the U.S. mainland, and he was even mentioned as a potential vice presidential candidate for Romney.
Political parties in Puerto Rico, however, aren’t organized along the same ideological lines as on the U.S. mainland — Fortuño belongs to the Partido Nuevo Progresista de Puerto Rico (the PNP, New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico), which is first and foremost a proponent of full statehood for Puerto Rico. In contrast, the Partido Popular Democrático de Puerto Rico (the PPD, Popular Democratic Party of Puerto Rico) favors Puerto Rico’s current status as a commonwealth. A smaller third party, Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño (Puerto Rico Independence Party) favors Puerto Rico’s full independence — it looks and feels much like a traditional Latin American populist/leftist party, and it has attracted the support of the likes of high-profile Latin American figures, including author Gabriel García Márquez.