Monthly Archives: November 2015

7 posts

Puerto Ricans Plan Day of Action in DC


day of action

A busload of Puerto Ricans from Orlando is scheduled to travel to the nation’s capital next week to pressure congressional leaders to act on behalf of Puerto Rico’s debt crisis.

Buses will converge in Washington, D. C., from points north and south as part of a continuing effort among Puerto Rican groups – in concert with Puerto Rican elected officials in the states – to build momentum to solve the island’s economic problems, including a 10-year recession causing tens of thousands to flee each year in search of opportunities in Central Florida and elsewhere.

“The crisis in Puerto Rico has created a real sense of urgency for us to be talking to one another and coordinating our efforts,” said Zoé Colón, director of Florida and Southeast Operations for Hispanic Federation, a community advocacy group based in New York that opened an office in Orlando this year. “This is historical. It’s the largest exodus out of the island. All eyes are on Florida.”

Puerto Rico is facing a December 1 debt payment of nearly $300 million, a payment that island officials have said cannot be made without disrupting government services. In all, the island owes Wall Street more than $70 billion in debt, money borrowed over many years largely to fill budget holes and maintain government services. A nonpayment would make the island default on its debt.

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Forecast: Hispanics to Spend More this Holiday Season

Woman Holding Gift --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis


Major retailers are already lamenting slow holiday sales even before the season has fully launched. Nordstrom, Kohl’s and Macy’s – one by one they have warned Wall Street of rising inventory, prompting the  companies to cut earlier holiday sales forecasts.

But here’s a bright note: Florida Atlantic University of Boca Raton  just released a national survey stating that 31 percent of Hispanics intend to boost their holiday spending this year, up from 29 percent in 2014.

Those who said they would spend no money shrank by nine percentage points, which is statistically significant. The findings indicate that Latinos may be more solid financially this year and, therefore, more willing to open their wallets.

In fact, 13 percent of respondents said they planned to spend $1,000 or more, according to the survey, which is substantially higher than the 8 percent reported the year before. And in another sign of Hispanic consumer confidence, 64 percent said they planned to spend cash, compared with 59 percent back in 2014. If Hispanics say they plan to spend cash it’s because they have greenbacks in their wallets. Otherwise, they would resort to the old fashioned tarjetazo, or credit card binge.

Monica Escaleras, director of FAU’s Business and Economics Polling Initiative, which conducted the poll, thinks retailers ought to focus on this consumer group with a strong likelihood of consumer spending.

I’m more interested in the jolly news that Hispanics are feeling festive and generous because the group often experiences the brunt of the recession first and the recovery last.

˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor

Public Radio Profiles Puerto Rican Community

The radio program Intersection on WMFE 90.7 FM looks into the growing Puerto Rican community.  To hear the interview click on the link in the story. / screenshot


Local public radio station WMFE 90.7-FM did a story on the growth of the Puerto Rican population in Central Florida this week for its Intersection program, which aired today at 9 a.m. Host Mathew Peddie interviewed me for the story, as well as local political-union activist Jimmy Torres Vélez, Socorro Ramos-Avilés, and Spanish-language radio host Magda Ivette Torres.

Listen in on the conversation here.

˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor

Ted Cruz’s Problematic Plan for Immigration Reform


Orlando International Airport was busy this week as Republican presidential candidates flew into Orlando to speak at the Republican Party of Florida’s Sunshine Summit.

I attended a Ted Cruz rally at Faith Assembly Church off Curry Ford Road, where the Texas senator unveiled his immigration plan.

The location, a 1,200-seat venue that was under half full, was a clear appeal to the evangelical crowd that Cruz claims as his. The crowd warmer invoked radio personality Rush Limbaugh, who once said Cruz was a “thoroughbred conservative,” a signal to the GOP’s tea party faction that is wary of the “establishment wing” symbolized by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

In a Ted Cruz administration the trains would run on time because he took the stage at 2:45 p.m., exactly when he was scheduled to do so, to chants of “Cruz! Cruz! Cruz!”

His talk was filled not with dog-whistle warnings but full-blown sirens that stoked the fears of the mostly non Hispanic white and elderly audience.

“From 1968 to 1988, California was a GOP bulwark with a series of Republican governors. After 1988, California has never again voted Republican,” Cruz, said implying that the 1987 immigration reform that made citizens of about 3 million undocumented immigrants had turned the state blue.

Cruz blamed Congress for the development, not mentioning that immigration reform was one of President Ronald Reagan’s signature pieces of legislation. He was wrong on the facts as well. Republican George Deukmejian was re-elected California governor when immigration reform was enacted. He was followed by Republican Pete Wilson, who governed from 1991 to 1999. Arnold Schwarzenegger was the last Republican governor of California, elected in 2003 and again in 2007. Facts didn’t get in Cruz’s way.

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