Statehood supporters lead Puerto Rico Democratic Party
SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rican Democratic Party elected its new leaders and statehood supporters grabbing all the top positions, including the presidency, which is now occupied by former Senate President Charlie Rodríguez.
At a meeting in the Central Committee of that party Tuesday in San Juan, feminist activist Johanne Vélez was elected vice president, and Ponce Mayor María “Mayita” Meléndez as committeewoman. Meléndez was the vice president of the party and after the resignation of President Roberto Prats, served as interim president.
Luis Daniel Dávila, an attorney and deputy director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration office in Washington, was elected as committeeman, a position that former Sen. Kenneth McClintock occupied for the past 14 years.
“For me, it represents a transformation of the Democratic Party in Puerto Rico, to broaden the base of participation and in turn rally the call for Puerto Rico’s decolonization according to the result of the 2012 plebiscite when the people rejected the colony and wanted to achieve full American citizenship,” the new president told Caribbean Business after his election.
Rodríguez stressed the importance of the election, since the Democratic National Committee (DNC) meets Feb. 21-23 to elect its new chairperson, and in which Puerto Rico has four votes, that of the president of the party locally, the vice president, the committeeman and committeewoman, all who identify with statehood.
Among other factors, Prats resigned from the party in January because he had been in office for 14 years and because the party lost in the U.S. elections, as did the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) in Puerto Rico, which he supports.
“The last 20 years of my life, I have dedicated them intensely to the party and I think it is enough,” Prats told Caribbean Business, indicating he resigned after Barack Obama left the U.S. presidency.
The position of committeewoman was occupied by Liza Ortiz, who stepped down after being mentioned in the corruption case of former PDP fundraiser Anaudi Hernández.
Before Prats’s resignation, then-Vice President Gina Méndez left her post after being appointed judge of the appellate court.