Democrat Darren Soto, one of four Hispanic congressmen from Florida, said in an interview with Efe that Puerto Ricans in the state are “the most powerful in the world” when it comes to influencing the direction of the United States. and also in its relationship with the island.
Soto, of Puerto Rican origin, was elected for the first time in 2016 and re-elected last November by a district in central Florida, a region that has received a large number of displaced people from the island in the last decade due to the economic crisis and more recent to the ravages caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017.
“We have a great opportunity in Florida to help determine the elections,” said the Democrat on the possibility they have of electing the president of the United States, an option denied to Puerto Ricans on the island, who can participate in the primaries of the parties. but not in the federal elections.
“We are the most powerful Puerto Ricans in the world in this fact, and we also have the ability to help our brothers and sisters in Isla del Encanto,” he said.
In addition, he added, since Florida is an “indecisive” state that can vote for “one or the other party”, Puerto Ricans can decide a tight election and each time they vote they have the “power to help the island and other Puerto Rican populations in the nation”.
The Puerto Rican population of Florida has surpassed that of Puerto Ricans in New York, recalled Soto, representative to the House of Representatives for the ninth district, which includes part of the counties of Osceola, Polk and Orange, where the city of Orlando is located.
“We have the largest diaspora in the United States, bigger than in New York, 1.3 Puerto Ricans live in Florida and this number is growing rapidly,” he said.
Soto, a 40-year-old lawyer, said that, unlike Cubans who are especially concentrated in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, where they have voted for decades as a bloc, half of Puerto Ricans live in central Florida. and the rest is scattered throughout Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville, Tallahasse and other areas.
“We have no concentration in central Florida, but it’s enough to have a voice in District 9,” he said.
On the other hand, the Democrat indicated that he is in favor of the island becoming the 51st state of the country based on the result of the plebiscite of 2017 in which 97% of the voters of the current Commonwealth (ELA) chose that option .
He emphasized that Hurricane Maria, which caused the death of nearly 3,000 people in Puerto Rico, demonstrated the need for the island to have equal conditions and representation in Congress that the rest of the country, because, in his opinion, the current status (ELA) is not working very well. “
After María’s scourge, Puerto Ricans have demanded more federal assistance from the federal government and be treated in the same way as other Americans who have also been victims of natural disasters.
“Hurricane Maria shows that without representatives of the island, senators, their voice is limited,” said Soto, who said that “Puerto Rican heritage” congressmen can fight for the needs of this community both on the island and in the United States.
The Democrat pointed out that the main shortcomings of the Boricua community in central Florida are affordable housing, well-paid employment and medical insurance, and also highlighted the need for infrastructure, especially roads, in a region of 2.5 million inhabitants and a floating population of one million tourists.
Soto is one of four Latino congressmen for Florida in the House of Representatives, which will be under Democratic control the next two years after his triumph in the elections last November.
This Monday, January 7, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, born in Guayaquil (Ecuador) and the first South American congresswoman in the United States, will represent a district of South Florida to replace the Republican of Cuban origin Carlos Curbelo.
Both Democrats join the Cuban-American Republicans Marco Rubio and Mario Díaz-Balart, elected in the Senate and the Lower House since 2010 and 2002, respectively.