Please have my warmest wishes for a very prosperous and successful 2009. The dawning of a new year is an excellent time to reflect upon times past and to forge a new path into the future.
Last year was very eventful for the Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association, Inc. (PRSSA). Moreover, it was a landmark year for the Puerto Rican statehood movement. The pro-statehood New Progressive Party (NPP) won the 2008 Puerto Rican general elections in a landslide, winning the governorship, Puerto Rico’s sole congressional seat, a majority of mayoralties and the overwhelming majority of both chambers of the state legislature.
Furthermore, the PRSSA emerged as the leading pro-statehood student organization in 2008. Following its incorporation as a Puerto Rico-based non-profit organization, the PRSSA launched a comprehensive Campaign for Young Voters in the summer of 2008. In August 2008, the Association teamed up with the NPP’s Get Out the Vote Committee and held an Absentee Vote Party with then-Congressman Luis Fortuño and Pedro Pierluisi in Shannan’s Pub of Guaynabo. This event received ample media coverage on the evening news and was a resounding success with over 500 youths present to support absentee voting and the NPP’s two main candidates.
Later, the PRSSA held an exhibition during the 2008 NPP Convention in the Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan. The Association provided voting information and promotional materials to hundreds of students. In the weeks leading up to the elections, the PRSSA led a voter inscription drive in 22 campuses throughout Puerto Rico. This campaign, coordinated with other pro-statehood groups and supported by the New Progressive Party, helped in the inscription of over 220,000 new voters between the ages of 17 and 24.
The Association’s efforts were recognized by the media. The PRSSA was profiled in several articles by newspapers such as El Nuevo Día and Primera Hora. Likewise, PRSSA Communications Director Eduardo Soto and I discussed the youth vote in radio programs broadcast in Puerto Rico. The Association’s blog, “Statehood for Puerto Rico”, was also a top feature among global political blogs during this election cycle.
The PRSSA also sailed new waters in Puerto Rican politics. Then-Puerto Rico Senate President Kenneth McClintock was the guest speaker in the inauguration of our UPR-Río Piedras chapter on October 8, 2008, marking a rare appearance by a major NPP leader on campus. In Washington, DC, Executive Director Raúl Vidal represented the PRSSA at the White House’s Hispanic Month celebration and served as advisor on Hispanic youth issues. PRSSA leaders also represented the statehood movement in the National Puerto Rican Coalition’s annual policy convention in Philadelphia, becoming the first major representative of the statehood movement to participate in said activities in many years.
The year concluded in celebration, with PRSSA members celebrating Christmas with the now State Secretary Kenneth McClintock in a dinner held in December in Guaynabo City. Several PRSSA leaders were special guests to the historic Inaugural Ceremony of Governor Luis Fortuño.
The year 2008 proved that the pro-statehood students of the PRSSA can accomplish great deeds and assist their communities. We have triumphed in the midst of a highly complex political situation, but our victories have only just begun. With an even bigger and competitive team, we are surely to grow and excel beyond all expectation. Best wishes for a successful 2009. It has been a pleasure and an honor to work with you thus far.