Barack Obama’s Visit: As American as Arroz Con Gandules

Photos of Raul Colon Web Developer Puerto Rico

Like every Puerto Rican I was curious of Obama’s visit an when I had a break after Obama had left the Island I decided to watch his speech. I was shocked at how superficial I found Obama’s speech to be. I guess most politicians have generic and superficial speeches but I am used to Obama being a great speaker and having something to say that touches many.

I do understand Obama wanted to reach out and mention a term that people could relate too but comparing as American as Apple pie to as American as Arroz Con Gandules Really did not click (although as a vegetarian I have to say I did prefer that option towards arroz with the carcass of a chicken or as meat eater call it Arroz con Pollo). But in many ways the purpose of the visit was to click with those who paid to see him so I hope that they got a better speech.

I did see a few interesting tweets which inspired this post. I also wanted to in a poke a bit of fun towards the Obama short Visit on why I think there where things very Puerto Rican and others that where not.

Things that where very Puerto Rican

A Politician Getting a Free Meal

Our own Alfredo (thanks to @gisela_m for pointing out the correction. Although for me most local politicians are the same so I mix up their names) Alejandro Garcia Padilla had Obama pay for his meal. Politicians locally get huge perks and spend taxpayer money at will at extravagant restaurants. At least in this occasion they went to an overpriced bakery not an overpriced restaurant. If only they would actually repay the people with work that would not be much of an issue.

No Reason For a Politician To Mingle with the Common Individual

It is extremely difficult to get in touch with any politician here and they will not talk to you unless you are extremely important (even a mayor of a small town). Even worst if you say anything that challenges their behaviors on a social network they will seek to silence you. Just like we had  Pedro Pierluisi’s staff blocked our friend @julito77 from their Facebook page. I think that if it took that long for a U.S. President to return to the island he could of at least addressed everyone if he really cared.

If you can also ask Mr. Pierluisi why they block people like @julito77 on facebook even when they are respectful.

Meeting the Minimum Requirements

I guess since most people here voted for Hillary in the primaries (which is the only part of the election the residents of the colony are able to participate in). Obama fulfilled the promise to those who supported him. He did come back but was he here for everyone. In Puerto Rico it is very common for people to meet the requirements at a minimum (something that being a Colony for over centuries has been instilled in many of our minds).  Did Obama just Meet the Minimum Requirements.

Speaking About Politics at Lunch

It is normal to always talk about politics when you are eating lunch. Although many people find it offensive others end up doing exactly that. I guess what a better option for two politicians than to talk about politics at a bakery instead of the real problems of our island.

Just getting part of it

Our many centuries under colonial rule have taught many Puerto Ricans to conform to whatever is available. We can’t vote for president but we can serve in the U.S. Military. There are so many things that are limited due to our status as a Colony. Because of this we are use to getting what we can, like for example : a pit stop  every 50 years by the President of the U.S. who many veterans have fought for and service members lost their life.

A whole entourage when to pick him up at the airport!

As the Puerto Rican Movie La Guagua Aerea depicts; Puerto Ricans love to take the family, extended family members and others to greet people once they arrive at the airport (Or as you can see in the short video to take people to the airport). This normally happens with individuals who don’t visit the Island often as the case of a U.S. President. You see even fellow NuYorican Marc Anthony was here to receive him. What sparks my curiosity with Marc receiving him was that Marc does not live here. I think Marc was trying to grab a Ride back on Air Force One.

Things that Where Not Very Puerto Rican

Doctor’s Visit

Here in Puerto Rico when someone visits and leaves quickly we say they made a doctor’s visit. It is not acceptable and people force you to stay longer. If you leave you might have offended those you visited. My advice to Obama if you are coming in for a few hours too find something more useful to do and save U.S. taxpayer money.

Don’t Be That Family or Friend That comes by to eat and collect money

I read an awesome tweet by my friend @nelsonbermejo on how he has an uncle who does just like Obama visits to grab a meal and collect money and then he exits. I think we all have a relative who is interested in visiting us when they need something. I think Obama obviously came through with his promise with the only interest of collecting money not visiting the Island.

[blackbirdpie url=”!/NelsonBermejo/status/80776601406685184″]

Nobody Applauded when Air Force One Landed

Somebody should have made the arrangements to have everyone applaud when they touched down. As every Puerto Rican knows, when a plane lands there is a requirement to applaud if you arrived safely. Someone commented on facebook that maybe someone did and the secret service tacked him.

Overall seeing the political stunt for Obama made me lose part of the respect and fascination I had for our biggest landlord.
Just as my friend Lamberto celebrating that Obama was visiting the island is the same as celebrating when the Landlord comes to collect the rent.

[blackbirdpie url=”!/bertiPR/status/80723367317090304″]

What where your thoughts on Obama’s visit? Do you see any benefits coming out of it?
Or even better can you see what else was very Puerto Rican or not that happened yesterday?

photo credit by Emily Barney


  1. Anonymous on June 15, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    WE LOVE THIS!!!!! One of the best summaries of yesterday we have seen so far!

    • Raul Colon on June 15, 2011 at 2:45 pm

      Gracias hermanos! 

  2. Anonymous on June 15, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    As a little kid I would have been excited that the President of the U.S. was going to come visit my state or hometown. I actually think that he visited the City of Bridgeport for a longer period of time than he did in Puerto Rico. I think the biggest fraud that the Government of Puerto Rico displayed yesterday was all of the Puerto Ricans in the hangar applauding his arrival. Obviously they were constituents of the current political party. There is so much to see in Puerto Rico that it was a waste of time for him to come here if he wasn’t going to address the real issues and see the real Puerto Rico. It will be another 50 years before another U.S. President steps foot on this island again, but it won’t be the last time that Puerto Ricans will get stepped on by the U.S.

    • Raul Colon on June 15, 2011 at 2:52 pm


      I could not have said it better. Based on the applauses for some politicians of the Pro-statehood parties compared to others you could clearly tell that it was the Pro-statehooders in the hangar. 

      • Robert on June 15, 2011 at 9:05 pm

        Hi.  This independentista was in the hangar.  It was obviously a Pro-statehood majority, but I saw quite a few of pro-Commonwealth people there.  As far as independentistas and soberanistas, I counted 4- myself included.

        • Raul Colon on June 15, 2011 at 9:08 pm

          I watched how they applauded when the Statehooders where mentioned. 

          Very happy that the Independentistas had some representation inside the hangar. 

          • Robert on June 15, 2011 at 9:10 pm

            I had to fight the temptation to wear a “viva Puerto Rico libre” shirt 😉    Unlike the most vocal Independentistas, I have nothing personal against the US, or President Obama.  And unlike the vocal ones, I also had no intention of rudely disrespecting the man.

            Yo le doy la bienvenida a cualquier persona que quiera visitar PR, sea por una hora o sea por su vida entera.

          • Raul Colon on June 15, 2011 at 9:15 pm

            I agree with you. I think that you can get things done in other ways. I don’t think it would be disrespectful to wear a t-shirt with your views in front of the leader of the #FREEWORLD. 

            De acuerdo con dar la bienvenida Lo curioso es la importancia que se le da! 

          • Anonymous on June 17, 2011 at 1:16 am

            Rob, that would have been cool!

  3. jesseluna on June 15, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Another way to see this is that the President is trying to understand the situation in Puerto Rico.  One way to do that is to use his community organizing background and go in and do a “one-on-one.” This is a relationship building strategy.  In that, you seek to connect with one person and find out their needs and interests.  Now, if President Obama doesn’t follow up on that visit and actually do something constructive based on what he learned then I agree that it will be seen as a quickie campaign stopover.

    So maybe it’s not so much a Landlord stopping by to see his tenants as much as an estranged relative stopping by for that first somewhat awkward visit to try to restart a relationship. The difference is perception and whether or not one wants to take a risk and hope for a better relationship for all.

    • Raul Colon on June 15, 2011 at 2:56 pm


      We have see what the U.S. has done to Puerto Rico and the rest of Latin America. If he has the time to spend a full day in a city which he frequent often his visit is a good example of the commitment he has with the Island. 

      Not sure if you read that he was clearly here to raise funds not to solve Puerto Rico’s problems. He is like every politician in vote grabbing mode. 

      You would need to live in Puerto Rico to understand clearly that this is one more attempt to act like Washington cares. 

      Did you see his speech very generic? He did not address any of Puerto Rico’s issues. 

      I know many of you are Obama Fans and if my country was independent and not a Country limited by the US Empire I would probably be one too. 

      No matter how you play it he is the Landlord collecting money.

      As any other politician he is not going to put the benefits of those who don’t vote for him over the ones that can’t. 

      • Adam on June 15, 2011 at 3:42 pm

        As someone who grew up in the states and lives in Puerto Rico now I can tell you there wasn’t anything special or different about Obama’s visit to Puerto Rico compared to visiting any one of the states.  Same show for the cameras in Puerto Rico as if he was visiting Iowa or Utah or something.  The only difference is he is the first US President to visit PR since JFK I think.  I think in that aspect you’re looking way to much into it.  Obama is basically saying “Hey Puerto Rico, make up your mind and we’ll support you.”  I my 4 years on the island it has seemed to me that it’s pretty split down the middle.  Maybe someday the island will make a decision that isn’t based on nationalism.  Instead of being American or Puerto Rican, be a human on planet earth.  The big picture.  I’m pretty lonely in that view though, unfortunately.  I understand loving your country and your culture, but take a drive around Puerto Rico and look at all the trash on the side of the roads.  Sometimes I think even Puerto Rico doesn’t respect Puerto Rico.   I really want to start some “Clean Up Puerto Rico” non-profit someday.

        • Raul Colon on June 15, 2011 at 3:49 pm


          The comparison might be a slim one since the people of IOWA or any other state vote for him I am sure he does not make a piss stop like he did here. 

          Adam you have been here only a few years. Every day I learn even more reasons of how the US nationalism has overpowered any nationalism on the island making it believe someone else should take responsibility. 

          The trash you see are good examples on how the mind of Puerto Rican’s not having an adequate identity defined think it is someone else’s problem. On my side I have to say that I am in the same playing field as you. LEt us all be human let Cubans visit Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican’s visit our brothers in Cuban. We have our hands tied to U.S. Rules without the opportunity to make our own decisions. 

          It is a fact of having people that understand us make decisions for us and not make it look like a guy who stopped for a few hours really is going to fix anything on the island. 

          We are all human’s but I would say U.S. Rule over Latin America and the rest of the world for some reason makes U.S. citizens think for the most part they are in control of the world. 

          Sadly in Puerto Rico they are. We have people making decisions for our Island like politicians in Washington which have never visited the island and we should be glad they stopped over to Collect money for there campaign. 

          This issues is far too complex. I am very disappointed in Obama and if you read my blog I have always been a supporter. 

          • Adam on June 15, 2011 at 4:01 pm

            I’m pretty disappointed in him too.  He totally does make piss stops everywhere, not just Puerto Rico.  It take some natural disaster or an election to get a President to visit most states.  I know we don’t agree on the topic, but I’m glad in Puerto Rico we are free to disagree and speak out.  I’m also happy to read someone’s view points about Puerto Rico in English.  It might surprise you that I’m for Puerto Rico independence.  I just think it’s too late.  Puerto Rico is so American already.  A year ago I had someone in the Walmart in Carolina give me shit, telling me to go back to the states.  I just ignored him and moved on, but later on though  – Hell, we were in a Walmart… doesn’t get anymore “States” than that. 🙁

          • Raul Colon on June 15, 2011 at 4:16 pm


            Some people confuse nationalism or nationality as it having to do with having freedom. We don’t choose where we where born. But we can sure choose which rights we can fight for. 

            I have many people that where born in the Island and don’t live here or plan to return wanting to decide on the fate for those of us like you and me that live here. 

            Many of them are Pro-Independence like you and me but we are the ones working are ass off to keep the island running. 

            Was the person buying or an employee of Wal-mart? You have a good point he was in Wal Mart this is the confusion many people have. I write this blog in English because it is a channel where most of the people can communicate. 

            No matter what your political views are I have to say that we share one thing in common you are here on the Island making a living and dealing with the many hurdles that are thrown at us. 

            I would love to have more people with different points of views, nationalities, and ethnicity to help my Island get over the many obstacles that many of us here have not been able to overcome. 

            Once again thanks for sharing your thoughts here on my blog and for reading my post! 

        • Anonymous on June 17, 2011 at 1:18 am

          Adam, good point, but the other 50 states of the union don’t have their own respective Olympic teams or Miss Universe contestants. Puerto Rico is a bit different.

    • Anonymous on June 17, 2011 at 1:17 am

      Jessem good point, but people on the island can’t vote for President anyway.

  4. BellaVida on June 15, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    I’ve been too busy this week to pay attention to exactly what happened on this trip to Puerto Rico.  I still have to watch the video of his speech. 

    I can only comment on the fact that I know Obama is preping for the next election.  As a voter I am unsatisfied with several issues like; the devaluing of my property; allowing lenders to get away with no reprecussions for creating this economic crisis, allowing NASA to disappear, not creating incentives for alternatives to oil & nuclear power; for bailing out old monopolies that don’t know how to change or adapt to businesses in 2011.  Another issue that’s important to me is speaking up against racism and racial profiling…

    My ultimate decision in the next election will be based on pure actions and not long winded phoney baloney speaches because as my abuela said: “Las palabras se las lleva el viento.”

    • Raul Colon on June 15, 2011 at 9:11 pm

      Thanks for reading and commenting. 

  5. Kofla Olivieri on June 15, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Both tweets are right on the money, the “landlord” came to collect the rent, and the family member who only visits for free meals and money. People should be ashamed to be treated this way. Pero, los añangotaos todavia estan “celebrando” esta ridicula visita de doctor.

    • Raul Colon on June 15, 2011 at 9:11 pm


      Gracias por los comentarios y el apoyo continuo. 

  6. Robert on June 15, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    To me this was more a long layover with a beneficial stop at duty-free.

    • Raul Colon on June 15, 2011 at 9:08 pm

      Excellent.. Perfect great example! 

  7. Prometeo on June 15, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    The speech was a one-size-fits-any-state speech. Mentioning local people and common events to get people all riled up and cheering. But the joke is on us for letting that happen. 

    Adelante y exito. 

    • Raul Colon on June 15, 2011 at 9:53 pm

      I was waiting for your opinion and I have to agree completely. Funny how we allow all these things and then ask why things are not running how they should. 

  8. Gise on June 16, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    No es ” ALFREDO Garcia Padilla”, es Alejandro Garcia Padilla 😉

    • Raul Colon on June 16, 2011 at 6:50 pm

      Gracias por la correcion buen ejemplo de lo fanático que soy de los políticos locales! 🙂 

    • Raul Colon on June 16, 2011 at 7:03 pm

      Es que para mi todos los políticos son iguales! 

  9. Marta on June 16, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Raul, sorry, but I couldn’t finish reading this post. the absence of proper editing and error filtering was way too distracting.

    • Raul Colon on June 16, 2011 at 7:00 pm


      Feel free to make any recommendations. Constructive Criticism is always welcomed in this “blog”. We are not a newspaper and this is a place to share thoughts and expressions in a way that are not filtered by editors of a newspaper. 

      I can clearly see your intentions and I see your emotions might have distracted you from reading further as I can clearly see you are a Obama Supporter in Colorado.

      Maybe if you where going through the struggles of the island you would understand the message!