Our national media talk a big talk when it comes to advocating equality for all, if their shameless self-promotion is to be believed. However, their treatment of Puerto Rico’s official push for admission into the Union as the 51st state makes crystal clear that some causes are more “equal” than others.
It’s been exactly two weeks since Puerto Rico’s sole non-voting representative in the United States Congress, Jenniffer González (R) presented in a speech on the floor of the House the island’s Equality Commission (also known as its “shadow delegation”). The announcement was the fulfillment of a long-awaited campaign promise made by current Governor Ricardo Rosselló (D), which includes the execution of a “Tennessee Plan” that emulates the actions of the first U.S. territory to send a shadow delegation to Congress to lobby for admission as a state.
Puerto Rico’s shadow delegation has both heavyweight political chops and is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, along with one independent, in order to demonstrate the competitiveness of both national parties on the island, as well as get shadow delegation members in front of every single Member of Congress.
The Democrat component of the delegation includes two former Chairmen of the Southern Governors Association (former Governors Pedro Rosselló and Carlos Romero-Barceló) along with current Puerto Rico Democratic Party Chairman Charlie Rodríguez.
The Republican component of the delegation includes yet another former Chairman of the Southern Governors Association, former Governor Luis Fortuño, in addition to Republican National Committeewoman Zoraida Fonalledas and Alfonso Aguilar, a former head of the U.S. Office of Citizenship. Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Ivan “Pudge” Rodríguez, a political independent, rounds out the delegation.
But not a peep on any of the national television nightly newscasts .
Instead, the historic drive by America’s largest and most populous remaining territory has been buried by the Democrats’ push to include DACA in federal budget negotiations. It was this latter priority, of course, that resulted in the most recent government shutdown, which came and went without bringing us any closer to resolving the issue of what happens after the sunsetting of DACA.
It should be noted that the media prioritized the permanence of an executive order of dubious constitutionality, targeted to benefit some 700,000 individuals brought into the country unlawfully, over the legitimate civil rights and aspirations of over 3.4 million natural-born American citizens.
One would think that Puerto Rico’s spirited push for full equality within the Union, bolstered by the results of two consecutive islandwide referendums, would have warranted coverage on our national newscasts – especially on those networks, such as Univision and Telemundo, who claim to champion America’s Hispanic community. But the reality on the national news has been entirely otherwise.