Bipartisanship has ruled comfortably in Puerto Rico for 70 years, having had since 1949 six governors of the Partido Popular Democrático (PPD), which advocates for staying with the current political status as a Free Associated State, and six governors of the Partido Nuevo Progresista (PNP), which advocates for statehood.
It could be said that Puerto Ricans have sought the solution to the island’s problems in the same two places for seven decades. It is no wonder then that nothing has changed in Puerto Rico: neither its political status, nor the economic crisis that has had the island in recession for 13 years, nor the political instability caused by rampant corruption.
However, airs of change are expected for these upcoming elections.
In the 2016 elections, the Independent candidate for governor, Alexandra Lúgaro, obtained 11% with 175,831 votes, positioning herself in third place behind Ricardo Rosselló, of the PNP, and David Bernier, of the PPD.
In 2019, Lúgaro, who is a lawyer and businesswoman, along with Rafael Bernabe, historian and candidate for governor in 2016 for the Partido del Pueblo Trabajador; Manuel Natal, lawyer, former PPD militant, current legislator and candidate for mayor of San Juan for 2020; María Nogales, lawyer and candidate for Resident Commissioner in 2016 for the Partido del Pueblo Trabajador; and Ana Irma Rivera Lassén, activist and the first black woman to be president of the Puerto Rico Bar Association; co-founded the Victoria Ciudadana Movement (MVC).
According to its website, Victoria Ciudadana was born to meet three urgent duties of our time: the rescue of public institutions, social, economic, environmental and fiscal reconstruction; and decolonization through statehood, independence or free association.
In addition to this, the MVC is proud to be a party that celebrates diversity and plurality of positions, being its resident commissioner candidate one that favors statehood.
“I don’t push it on anybody (statehood). I don’t want anybody to push anything on me so I respect everybody’s opinion and that’s one of the reasons I am able to be in a party where the affiliates are for the most part pro-independence,” expressed resident commissioner candidate, Zayira Jordán.
“My reasons (for wanting statehood) more than anything are that Puerto Rico didn’t offer me the opportunities that I needed when I needed them. I had to leave Puerto Rico, go live in Iowa 15 years to be able to have a decent chance of having an education and having a good future for my five children… I should’ve had that support in Puerto Rico and the reason why I didn’t have it was because we’re not a state,” she added.
In particular, MVC has captivated the attention of young Puerto Ricans. In fact, the movement has a proposal called the youth proposal that “seeks to organize young people aged 13 to 30 who sympathize with the Urgent Agenda of MVC and seek to get directly involved in the political environment.” One of these young people is Michael Taulé, 23 years old, candidate for the municipal legislature of San Juan.
“What inspired me most about this movement is that it has been organized in a very different way to that of a traditional party, diversity is fostered, all voices are included, if something wrong happens there is openness, dialogue; it is not the type of party where you do something wrong or if you go against the party ideology or a party rule you get automatically kicked out of the party or they backstab you,” Taulé said.
According to an analysis by the newspaper Metro of the voter registration data updated until September 18, it was found that the segment of voters between 18 and 29 years of age make up 17.3% of the total eligible voters to participate in the electoral process of November 3rd 2020. Still, this represents a drastic reduction compared to 16.8% in 2016, 18.9% in 2012, 20.7% in 2008 and 22.4% in 2004. It should be noted that the population has declined since then with at least 130,000 Puerto Ricans fleeing to the United States after Hurricane Maria in 2017 and is expected to fall by 8% more by 2024.
Therefore, the support that this emerging party has had and the threat it poses to Puerto Rican bipartisanship cannot be underestimated. So evident is the threat that MVC represents that the party has run into numerous obstacles such as the attempt by the State Elections Commission to annul the certifications of 29 candidates of the movement, accusations of advertising plagiarism and discrimination lawsuits directly linked to the candidate Alexandra Lúgaro and her family business. On these situations and how they affect the credibility and success of the party, Michael Taulé expressed, “No, I don’t think it takes away our credibility. I believe that on the contrary it takes away the credibility of bipartisanship, seeing that desperation in the media, seeing that double standard, you see their fear. They cannot do clean politics because if they do, they lose, and so they have to appeal to dirty mechanisms, disinformation mechanisms and mechanisms that are very dangerous for democracy where they stain reputations, stain images to misinform the population and that they do not see these people as an option when they are.”
With more than 100 candidates for the general elections, the Victoria Ciudadana movement is heading for an anti-corrupt government, a society with access to basic services and a decolonized Puerto Rico. On November 3, 2020, Puerto Rico has two options: change or tradition.