My mom called me yesterday. She was upset. Her party lost the election in Puerto Rico, and she was taking it really hard. The evil people who want to cut up and give away the island to rich foreign interests have won.
After being away for 8 years, I had forgotten how strong island Puerto Ricans feel about their political party affiliations, and how heated and emotional they can can get, not just on election years but every single day.
I have never felt that pull, that passion while living here in Texas. I know partisan politics exist in the United States too, and that some people identify very strongly with their party. But there is a vast majority that is not affiliated, large numbers of people who do not define themselves by whom they vote for.
A big difference between partisan politics in the US and in Puerto Rico is the fact that, at their core, Puerto Rican political parties are organized on the basis of a specific position regarding the island's political status vis-a-vis the United States. In an election where most voters were reacting to the current economic woes besieging the island by voting the incumbent out, a vote for the winning party will nevertheless be taken as a mandate for them to lobby the US Congress and push that particular political status option. That is what has my mom on the verge of tears. She is convinced this win takes us one step closer to statehood, and the sole idea makes her cringe.
Never mind the fact that this cycle has been repeating itself for decades as the leadership of the country goes from one party to the other. Never mind that in the last 41 years we have had three plebiscites, and yet the question of our status does not get resolved.
Some would say it will never be resolved.