"Deconstructing" the Construction of Luis Fortuño's Candidacy 


"Deconstructing" the Construction of Luis Fortuño's Candidacy 


Rodrigo Fernos

While politicians are "made, not born", candidates are "constructed" rather than "naturally evolve"--particularly so in the Republican Party.  

The Republican Party seems to have learned a great deal from the Dan Quale fiasco and the "success" of George Bush.  In order for a candidate to earn legitimacy, they have to go through a series of trials which 'put to the test' their stamina and character. In fact, any party cannot just rely on a puppet figure in a modern democracy simply because of the many challenges that arise in this arena.   George Bush was only able to win the elections by a hair's width.  Had it not been for 9/11, falsification of evidence as to 'nuclear weapons in Iraq', or the corruption of the electoral process in Florida, either one of the Democratic Party's presidential candidates,  Al Gore or John Kerry, would have  beat him.  Certainly, they were men of much greater intellectual rigor than Bush was, not only with regard to their innate mental ability but as to their educational background as well.  In this sense, Bush is only able to hold power because the Vice President, Dick Cheney, tells him what to do and think. Otherwise, there would be a tremendous power vacuum in the United States presidency right now.  (We might note that this is a very dangerous tactic, given that Cheney was afflicted by heart problems early in the administration. God know what would have occurred had he suffered a massive heart attack and died.)

A similar argument might be extended to Luis Fortuño.

The local pro-statehood party, the PNP, had suffered a crises of leadership after the 2000 electoral loss to Sila Maria Calderon.  Pedro Rossello flew away from the island in an egoistic huff, and the new leader Carlos Pesquera (an engineer) frankly lacked the political tact and insight that makes for great institutional leaders.  When Maria Dolores Fernos (no relation to the author) refused to put the United States flag in her office (a woman's abuse center), she initiated a series of events that ultimately demonstrated Pesquera's political weakness and opened the door for Fortuños' rise to prominence within that party.   Contrary to all common sense, Pesquera (as well as Thomas Rivera Schatz, Edwin Mundo, and others) violently broke through the doors, planted a US flag, and 'kissed' the office in the name of "[North] Americanship"--and in the process kissing away all of his opportunities for the local governorship.  To my knowledge, no greater political blunder has ever been committed by any viable political candidate in the history of the island, and suggests the absence of the required personality traits to the position.  The event hence "opened the door" for the entry of Luis Fortuño for the candidacy to governorship.

It might be observed that Pedro Rossello was 'pleaded' by members of his own party to run for reelection; he was, without a doubt, the party's leader, president, and official candidate until the primaries.  However, if you look at its various elements, it has all the makings of a possible 'actorial debut' by Rossello rather than a genuine political candidacy, in order to establish the legitimacy of Fortuño's gubernatorial candidacy.   To begin with, PNP members who would later "switch over" to Fortuño's group were in fact the ones that had first invited Rossello to come back to Puerto Rico (i.e. Jennifer Gonzalez).   Rossello had very little incentive to come back to a place where he had ruffled so many feathers and raised so much animosity; after all, it is not easy being a governor of anything, particularly so when you have to constantly be giving 'answers' to issues you know little about before a nationwide audience.   That he did not actually actively promote his candidacy is also indicative of the actoral nature of his candidacy. 

It was only because his $50,000 retirement pension had not yet been legally and administratively established that the strategic leaders in that party were able to convince him to return to Puerto Rico and run in a race he did not want to participate in.   "Functioning" as a 'senator' for the municipality of Arecibo--a position which he seldom attended and to which almost no bills were issued, Rossello was able to achieve what he lacked (securing his pension) and satisfy the demands of the party: "serve" as rival to Fortuño just as he had "served" the municipality of Arecibo.  

Of course, the party's leaders never told Santini this for had Santini been aware of the actual play at hand, his strategy and alliances would have been very different from what they actually were. Santini is the most viable political candidate of that party--but one which the upper leadership does not control, and perhaps cannot control.  We might even suggest that by making him look 'bad' before Fortuño, Santini was suddenly converted to a 'malleable candidate' to that party's leadership.

Returning to our 'cute cuddly candidate' Fortuño, we might ask the question, why did the FBI not file charges before the PNP primaries?  Certainly, they had more than enough evidence to confront Anibal Acevedo Vila by that moment, after having been investigating the man for god knows how many years, looking into every nook and cranny they could legally poke their hands into.  That they did not is perhaps suggestive that the timing of the accusation was politically driven.  

If one considers the alternative, (filing charges prior to the political party primaries), one realizes that this would have given the commonwealth party (PPD) enough time to select a viable candidate that would have been more than ready to confront Fortuño in the upcoming elections.  It is clear that the other leading candidate of that party is William Miranda Marin, currently acting as Caguas mayor.  We might also note that the accusation would have totally diverted 'national' attention (in Puerto Rico) from the actual primaries and reduced the 'drama' of the Fortuño's 'suffering' as a political candidate --and hence his legitimization as a 'man who braves the fierce storms of politics'.   In other words, upon filing prior to the political primaries, the FBI would have served as an obstacle to the PNP's most viable strategy for ascencion to power.

In conclusion, it is likely that the PNP realized that a candidate as Luis Fortuño simply did not have the political charisma necessary to rise to power in the electoral dynamics of Puerto Rican politics.  Politics is, after all, a reflection of a people and its values.  That the phenomenon of machismo is still such a pervasive phenomenon in our island led them to the conclusion that Fortuño simply lacked the 'psychological credentials' to become a viable candidate to the governorship.  As a result, the PNP upper leadership had to devise a scheme which would bring 'to trial' the Fortuño as a man', akin to the phenomenon of  a "quinceañera" where a girl is officially debuted as a 'woman' in hispanic society.  This is not to say that Fortuño did not suffer during his PNP candidacy, such as when his opposition's chorus drowned out his speeches as common conventions.  (We might suggest that events such as these served as the required trials and tribulations ever man must overcome to 'become a man', thereby helping Fortuño strengthen his psychological stamina for the position.)  

Nonetheless, it does not discredit conspiratorial interpretations of our recent political history.

© 2014 Rodrigo fernos riddick