Thursday, November 6, 2008

Election Results

I took voting this year far more seriously than I have in the past, perhaps because when I lived in Massachusetts the outcome was fairly certain before the voting even started. Things did not turn out exactly the way I wanted, but I'm proud to have voted in my first Puerto Rican election.


The incumbent governor and Popular Democratic Party representative, Acevedo, was trounced by the republican candidate, Fortuño, who represents the New Progressive Party. Acevedo currently faces federal charges alleging irregularities in his campaign finances. Fortuño has also been under FBI investigation over allegations of campaign finance irregularities. I didn't vote for him, but I wish Fortuño the best of luck.

The election, however, had less to do about politics and more to do about the economy. Puerto Rico is in rocky shape these days, with recession, rising utility prices, a sales tax imposed during the Acevedo administration, and ever rising unemployment. This election was about change.

I understand the frustration of the Puerto Rican people. The economy sucks, and job opportunities, particularly for young people, are scarce. Most of the jobs are in retail, construction, services, and manufacturing. There is little chance of advancement.

The school system does not adequately prepare kids for the job market. Many will go to the US looking for work, but language will be a barrier. English is a mandatory course of study, but it reminds me of the French I took in high school. I remember none of it. None of my 16-year-old brother in law's friends or other young people I know speak English with any degree of fluency; some not at all.


The incumbent mayor of Aguas Buenas, Arroyo, won re-election. He's done much for our small town, including providing funding for a new library, technology center, parks, and free bus service.


I watched TV coverage of the presidential election most of the night and into the morning, and I wept when Obama was declared the winner. This was the most exciting election in my lifetime, and it gives me hope for the future. His acceptance speech was intelligent, dignified, and inspiring.

It will be a daunting task, undoing the damage of the last eight years, but I believe Obama is up to that task. It may take his entire first term to make significant progress, but then, it took a long time to get where we are today. I only wish I could have voted (Puerto Rican residents can't vote in presidential elections).

End of Campaigning (at least for now)

I'm also glad the campaigning is over. Politicians here don't get much TV coverage; campaigning is done with trucks with huge speakers driving up and down the streets blaring their messages. There are endless parades and rallies in the two weeks before the election, all of them annoyingly loud. I'm looking forward to a little more peace and quiet. I say "a little" because very few parts of Puerto Rico are ever truly quiet.

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