A Mi Me Gusta La Gasolina! – Has He Been Inhaling the Fumes!?

By Donna Hernandez Aug 26, 2008

On Monday, Island-based Puerto Rican and Reggaeton artist, Daddy Yankee, who made an international name for himself with the song “Gasolina”, endorsed presidential hopeful John McCain citing the senator’s support of “Hispanics and his immigration efforts.” I’m ashamed to say so but if this endorsement is seen as a representation of the Puerto Rican vote, some stateside Puerto Ricans may actually breath a sigh of relief over the fact that Puerto Ricans on the island can’t vote for the US President. Among the many contradictions that plague Puerto Rico’s politics is the confusing issue of taxation without representation. Although island residents don’t pay federal income tax, contrary to common misconceptions, island residents do pay some U.S. federal taxes like import/export taxes, federal commodity taxes, social security taxes, etc. US Congress and President can send island based Puerto Ricans to war but Puerto Ricans on the Island can’t choose the Congress and commander-in-chief that decide the Island’s military fate. Given the possibility that a McCain Presidency would likely continue our current military actions, causing countless numbers of island based Puerto Ricans to be sent to war, the McCain campaign’s solicitation of Daddy Yankee’s endorsement is confusing on many fronts. First, the endorsement shows the McCain campaigns obvious lack of comprehension of Latino politics. The endorsement by a Puerto Rican citizen was staged in a state, Arizona, where Latino politics is dominated by the Mexican community (per 2003 Census numbers, the Latino population in Arizona is 89.4% Mexican and 1.4% Puerto Rican). In a political sense, this is a relevant error because it presupposes that Mexicans and Puerto Ricans have the same leaders and respond to the same issues. Mr. McCain, a wise House speaker once stated: “all politics is local.” Portraying yourself as a champion of Latino causes by bringing one from 3000 miles away that shares little in common with the Arizona residents whose votes you need shows you didn’t do your homework on Latino issues. Just because we have Spanish surnames does not mean that we are interchangeable! Secondly, if the endorsement was meant to shave off some of Obama’s youth vote, well…let’s just say not all young people listen to Reggaeton or react positively to the images that the genre’s more commercial acts, like Daddy Yankee, choose to highlight. Clearly, Senator McCain, you are trying to get support amongst young people and, specifically, Latino youth but, by grouping all Latino’s into one category, you have made it obvious that you don’t intend to represent that vast community of Latinos. You have blatantly lumped us all into one category and by doing so lumped our issues together. Vital issues, such as immigration, affect Latino’s differently depending on where you are in the country and from what country you are migrating from. Cubans that reach dry land are treated differently that Mexicans that cross the border and both have different experiences than Puerto Ricans that are born US citizens no matter whether they are on their homeland or in the US. Mr. Daddy (or is it Mr. Yankee!), the statement you allowed someone to write for you is equally racist as McCain’s solicitation of your endorsement. Ask Europeans or those wrongfully detained at Guantanamo Bay if McCain’s endorsement of Bush’s immigration policies is racially sensitive to their immigration needs. Hint hint…don’t start looking for gigs in Europe any time soon. I think Daddy Yankee needs to step away from the diesel and take a whiff of the truth as it affects Puerto Rico, Latinos and the world population. Where does McCain stand on the issue of Vieques and cleaning up the contamination McCain’s Navy caused? Yes folks, can you believe the Island is still dangerously contaminated by the remains of the military exercises that were staged there? Besides making, what sounds to me at times like really monotonous, uncreative music, Daddy Yankee should try to analyze the issues prior to making flawed statements to accompany political endorsements. If you want to be creative, work on artistic creativity to accompany your music before attempting to be politically creative in justifying an endorsement that makes no sense!