Industry groups affiliated with the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce are pushing back against a stateside conservative group— Iowa-based American Future Fund—which claims that the island is permeated by a “culture of corruption.” Apparently, no one was too concerned when ads likened Governor Alejandro García Padilla [shown above] to leftist Argentina President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner and Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro (and rightly so) but bristled when the island’s “culture” was labeled as corrupt.
The Iowa-based American Future Fund said its latest ad, run in the Wall Street Journal and Politico, is aimed at exposing a “culture of corruption” under the García Padilla administration that “should alarm investors, creditors and taxpayers.”
Previous ads, which likened Gov. Alejandro García Padilla to leftist Argentina President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner and Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro, didn’t cause much of a stir in Puerto Rico. The third ad, however, has prompted a backlash because it points to “culture,” a somewhat loaded word in the U.S. territory. “These ads are an affront to everyone live, work and struggle here every day to provide for our families,” said Chamber of Commerce President José “Pepe” Izquierdo.
Business leaders said the spread of the ads across digital media undermines ongoing efforts to attract investment to the island. “Puerto Rico is a secure and trustworthy place to do business,” said Meet Puerto Rico chief Milton Segarra. “We cannot let this type of smear campaign go unanswered.”
The trade groups have agreed to undertake a series of efforts to get the positive word out about Puerto Rico on the national and international stage. “All Puerto Ricans should be outraged by these ads as the island works to emerge from an economic and fiscal situation that affects us all,” said Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association President Waleska Rivera. The group pledged to create a united front to counter efforts to put Puerto Rico in a negative light for potential investors.
García Padilla has characterized the American Future Fund as an “extreme far-right” group and sought to link the opposition New Progressive Party to ads he called “racist and xenophobic.”
“In Puerto Rico, Gov. Alejandro García Padilla has fostered a culture of corruption that resembles the rogue governments of Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro,” the latest ad reads. The American Future Fund cites Doral’s $230 million tax fight with the Puerto Rico Treasury Department on a target list that includes the Recovery Act debt restructuring law and the government’s stated intention to sue Wall Street credit ratings agencies in the wake of downgrades of the island’s debt. [. . .]