Sunday, February 5, 2023

Bernier appeals to statehood and independence sympathizers in last election bid

By on November 6, 2016

From early morning, dozens of school buses began to arrive gradually at the surroundings of the Hiram Bithorn Stadium in Hato Rey, where the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) and its gubernatorial candidate, David Bernier, would celebrate their campaign closure, ahead of the general elections next Tuesday.

And even though the party failed to mobilize large crowds as in past elections, the event –which had an approximate cost of $180,000 according to campaign manager Ferdinand Mercado– served to present a candidate that made a call to transcend political lines and vote for la Pava.

(Felipe Torres/CB)

(Felipe Torres/CB)

Red and white flags filled the stadium’s parking area while the crowd enjoyed the infectious music that energized the event from 8:00 a.m. The main stage was occupied by known political figures, including governor Alejandro García Padilla, who kept his distance from the public by wearing dark glasses.

Notably absent, however, was former House Speaker Jaime Perelló Borrás, who apparently avoided approaching the premises during the event, although it is unknown if the decision was made by Bernier’s team or Perelló himself.

But the surprise of the afternoon was perhaps the short speech delivered by TV hostess and Bernier’s wife, Alexandra Fuentes, who was greeted with an ovation from the audience.

“Thank you for letting me suffer and enjoy it as I am. This jibarita from Cidra never imagined she would have the chance to speak to this new majority that my husband, David Bernier, wants for the country. I won’t need to be called first lady, but I will work unconditionally… and if you put an X next to papito’s name…,” said Fuentes in reference to the video in which her daughter Miranda asked everyone to vote for her dad.

“We are in the final stretch and I have to admit that it has been hard due to the predictable political attacks, but I want to make sure that when I look back, I won’t regret the decision of supporting David, and you are the ones who have made me reaffirm that I did the right thing as the wife of the best gubernatorial candidate that this country has had in a long time. Don’t see this as a political speech, because I have never been much into politics. I come here as the wife, friend and confident of David Bernier. The person who knows better than anyone else his verticality, passion and love for public service, and his capacity to lift the country. But he doesn’t want to do this alone, but by the hand of all Puerto Ricans, without political strings attached,”, she added.

Fuentes, with her usual easygoing style and undeniable charm, asked for Puerto Rico’s unity these elections, over political passions.

“The time has come to work together as Puerto Ricans, without divisions. We have to embrace each other no matter the preferred color of each person. We have to build an inclusive country; this is what these elections are all about. It is about the impact that the work done in the next four years will have in our future. Running for governor is a serious subject, especially in the times we are living in. The future of this country must be put in the hands of someone with experience and verticality,” said Fuentes before presenting her husband as the next governor of Puerto Rico.

(Felipe Torres/CB)

(Felipe Torres/CB)

After making his entrance, Bernier opted to offer his discourse on top of a van that made its way to the public that surrounded the main stage, as the crowd echoed in unison “David, relax, the people are with you.”

From there, waving a Puerto Rican flag, he began his speech aimed not only to members of his collectivity, but statehood and independence sympathizers as well. Bernier cited the very words of New Progressive Party (NPP) founder and former governor of Puerto Rico, Luis A. Ferré.

“We need to build a government, constitute a new majority of people of all ideologies that set aside political prejudice, ideological egotism, and that place Puerto Rico first on a moment of crisis such as this. That new majority includes you, ‘amigo estadista’ [friends who favor statehood ] -I know there are many here-, who are offended when you are told that a political status is chosen on the elections. And it was [Luis A. Ferré] who most eloquently expressed it when he said that elections are for choosing the governor who has the capacity, the knowledge and character to move a nation forward. It also includes ‘amigos independentistas’ [friends who favor independence], who, like me, love this land and  don’t negotiate our sense of identity, but are conscious that the next four years require a government that places our people’s wellbeing above everything else,” he affirmed.

“I have spent an entire life getting ready for when the homeland needs me. And I think God to has paved the path that has brought me here. My candidacy isn’t some whim or personal caprice, this is a lifetime commitment—a responsibility that, as a Puerto Rican who loves his land and is decided to deliver, couldn’t be any other moment. Duty is fulfilled when it is appointed, not when it is convenient,” he expressed.

Bernier suggested Puerto Rico’s problem, apart from its lack of consensus between different thoughts and ideologies, is his NPP rival Ricardo Rosselló’s candidacy and his ties to his father Pedro Rosselló’s government, considered by some as one of the most corrupt in the island’s modern history.

“What is Puerto Rico’s main problem? The main problem -listen carefully-, has been our incapacity to reach an agreement on the basic [issues], to reach minimal agreements, and the political fanaticism and ideological obsession has been the catalyst of this. […] The main problem, to vote for [Rosselló] on Sunday and Tuesday for David Bernier,” he said, in clear reference to Rosselló’s mistake during a televised interview when he urged his followers to vote for him today, Sunday.

  • (Felipe Torres/CB)

“Because of that vision we lost [Section] 936, that is why the government closed in 2006. Because of that incapacity we have 70 billion dollars in debt and we couldn’t plan the use of those resources adequately. Upon this reality, with these elections being critical for our future, the solution can’t be more fanaticism, more obsession. It has to be prudence, sobriety, willingness to be able to work with people from different ideologies. It isn’t that I promise and guarantee that my government will be one of inclusion, it’s that I have done it all my life; to me, the new majority isn’t a discourse, but a lifelong philosophy,” he insisted.

In an emotional moment, Bernier -50 feet away from the main stage where his wife and two children remained- thanked his family’s support during the campaign.

“I want to thank [Alexandra Fuentes] in my heart and my kids. Thanks, my love, for making my fight, yours. My love, thanks for your service in favor of the country. A special thanks to my kids, Adrián and Miranda, who I’m sure when they grow up they will know the reason daddy woke up early and arrived late was for a just cause. I carry this fight because of them, because I will remain in my country after I finish my management as governor,” he added as reference to the tradition of many former governors to move out of Puerto Rico after they conclude their term.

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