Dalmau: PR youth have ‘identified me as a figure who deserves their trust’
By Pedro Correa Henry
Special to The Star
Five days before the general elections, Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) gubernatorial candidate Juan Dalmau said he feels humbled and excited to see what’s next given the number of supporters, both young and mature, who have rallied behind his candidacy during the atypical electoral race that comes to an end next Tuesday.
In an interview with the Star at PIP headquarters in Hato Rey, Dalmau appeared calm and relaxed amid his hectic schedule, happy to talk about what’s to come in the final days before the elections, the sudden support he has received from citizens, and what the next governor for Puerto Rico should consider.
As for his current campaign, Dalmau said that even though the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the rules on how to deliver political campaigns and readjustments had to be made on the run, “we have [established] a presence regarding the Patria Nueva proposal, regarding the history and character that accompanies it with the party candidates.”
“People have been able to distinguish between an electoral offer for general elections, which is what’s going to happen on Nov. 3, where there are pro-statehood, or even people with no political preference, who have said: ‘I trust in Juan Dalmau. I trust that he has a history of commitment, and [I trust him with] the status problem that won’t be solved on Nov. 3,’” the pro-independence senator said. “That represents huge maturity as there was this notion that if you voted for a PIP candidate, the roads would be rolled up and forget about everything else because the worst was yet to come.”
Meanwhile, as for the sudden support Dalmau has been obtaining from young citizens during the political race, he told the Star that he has noticed that the local youth has become “more politicized in the best sense of the word” as there has been more involvement in political activities.
“I have accomplished accessibility that was never seen before in previous campaigns from the party,” Dalmau said. “As there has been a balance between being passionate with your postures, being capable of having a sense of humor, being lighter, more accessible, and less rigid regarding projection, I believe that the latter combination has gathered attention.”
He noted that the summer of 2019 protests led to a fracture in the traditional political behavior “that was ‘either red, or blue,’ which later became ‘neither red, nor blue,’ which opened doors for both young and [older] citizens to look for other alternatives.”
“They have identified me as a figure who deserves their trust, because there is substance, content, proposals, but also history, character and accessibility,” Dalmau said. “As newer generations have advanced, they have inspired other generations to acknowledge that they had their turn, we have arrived up to here, all we’re asking is to follow a new road.”
As for what is next for Puerto Rico, whether Dalmau becomes the elected governor or not, he told his supporters that, after the elections, “there’s a Puerto Rico that we have to build, regardless of the outcome [of the general elections], and we are going to have to, in some areas, coincide.”
“These elections will confirm again that we have to take the local political paradigm back to the drawing board. We must soon consider the second round as a necessary step, when none of the gubernatorial candidates gets an electoral majority,” he said. “I insist that a vote for me would be a vote for a political project, for something that we need to rescue for our country; the more votes my candidacy receives, the more strength we will get after the elections to push that political project because, whoever gets elected, if it isn’t me, they will be elected due to a very limited amount of votes and will have a great majority of the country who will not agree with the determination.”
Meanwhile, when asked about the next candidate to become Puerto Rico’s governor, he said they “must build bridges and work with the opposition, because majority parties do not exist anymore.”
“People keep talking about them, even when they haven’t received more than 50 percent of the popular vote since the last two elections. The opposition represents the majority now. It’s important to point that out so we can break away from a notion that’s false,” he said. “If you want to doubt that, just look at what happened with Ricardo Rosselló, who obtained 41 percent of the votes in 2016 and once he began taking actions against the people, the events that led to his resignation happened; there will be new dynamics that will be taking place after Nov. 3.”