SAN JUAN – Ex-President Bill Clinton made a low-key entry into Puerto Rico on Tuesday to campaign for his wife Hillary, though without speaking as strongly on the issues facing the island as the other Democratic hopeful, Bernie Sanders, did the day before.
In fact, this Tuesday Clinton said little that everybody didn’t already know: that the former secretary of state is in favor of Puerto Rico restructuring its debt under the protection of federal laws, that Puerto Ricans should get the same healthcare benefits as other Americans, and they should be able to vote in presidential elections.
The status of an Associated Free State of the United States means that, among other differences, Puerto Ricans living on the island cannot vote in the general elections, though they can in the primaries. The Democratic primaries, in which 67 delegates are at stake, will take place on the island on June 5.
Bill Clinton’s visit to Puerto Rico comes the day after his wife’s rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders, arrived to campaign on the island for the first time, with the proposition that it should be the Federal Reserve that rescues Puerto Rico from its economic crisis.
The big difference was the depth of the senator’s speeches. Sanders proposed new ideas and discussed the thorniest questions, referring to the “colonial” attitude of the United States toward Puerto Rico, and demanding that Obama release the “political prisoner” Oscar Lopez Rivera.
Clinton to the contrary limited himself to brief addresses with references to past work his wife has done on behalf of Puerto Rican interests, and more general statements like “she believes that the United States has failed to provide truly equal and adequate treatment to the people of Puerto Rico.”
On the issue of status, Sanders said he would promote a referendum during his first year in office, while Bill Clinton said of Hillary that “she thinks it’s time to resolve the status question once and for all with no ambiguity.”