A New Era in Puerto Rico's Unsettled History

Almost two weeks earlier, on January 2nd, the new governor, Alejandro García Padilla was sworn in at the Capitolio. García Padilla's speech, long and rambling, was nonetheless a reassertion of the PPD's strength, an appeal to cultural and national identity as the center of Puerto Rican society. But as vague as he was about his goals of job-creation, education, and health care, he seemed pushed by Cruz's charisma at the mayoral inauguration during his briefer speech there—he announced he would create 50,000 jobs in his first 15 months in office and insisted he would hold the PPD's promise to rescind the extra $800 fee imposed by the Luis Fortuño administration on University of Puerto Rico students.

"We'll be lucky if they rescind the cuota within two years," said Oscar J. Serrano, editor and founder of online news site Noticel.com. Serrano feels that the PPD victory was fueled by an impression of the PNP engaging in mandate overreach, alienating even some of its own constituency. "Santini had an abusive attitude and burned everyone, so he had no power base," said Serrano. "It was so bad a lot of PNP's voted for Yulín."

García Padilla's new cabinet features younger, more dynamic appointees like Secretary of State David Bernier, and Chief of Staff Ingrid Vila Biaggi give the 41-year-old governor an impression of promoting change. Idalia Colón, the new head of the Department of the Family, was characterized as a "radical" by a headline in the print version of El Nuevo Día because she wants to promote sex education, feels abortion is a right, and believes in respect and tolerance for diversity.

But Serrano feels its part and parcel of the party's strategy. "The PPD has always chosen the whistleblowers and activists associated with an issue or a field and put them in the corresponding cabinet position. The PNP has never done that. They name people who make the activists go ballistic."

García Padilla and Cruz have both made it clear that embracing diversity and rejecting intolerance is central to the new administration's rhetoric. Cruz even went so far as being "inclusive" of mainland Puerto Ricans by inviting Representative Gutiérrez, New York State Senator José Rivera, and allowed Spanish Harlem City Council dynamo Melissa Mark-Viverito to make a speech about uniting island Boricuas with the diaspora.

Intolerance has already been identified as public enemy number one by social media forces on the island that can take credit for the resignation earlier this month of Kobbo Santarrosa, the voice behind the gossip journalist marionette called La Comay, because of her continued use of anti-gay, anti-women, and racist remarks on television's top rated show. La Comay's resignation came as the result of a boycott lead by social media activists over his most recent comments implying a viciously murdered publicist was looking for trouble when he was kidnapped in an area frequented by prostitutes

Santarrosa's departure is important because it symbolizes the demise of what he claimed he had a monopoly on, the "real" Puerto Rican identity, and allowing for the emergence of new, tolerant, and perhaps progressive one.

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