• Orange Co. Republican Party chairman apologizes for calling Puerto Rico ‘basket case'


    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - The head of Orange County's Republican Party is offering an explanation after comments he made to a newspaper that offended some people in the Puerto Rican community.

    WFTV found out many people have been calling in to a Spanish-language radio station with strong reactions to his comments.

    Orange County Republican Chairman Lew Oliver said he wants to set the record straight.

    He said he was addressing voter registration numbers and growth in central Florida’s Hispanic population when he was quoted in the Orlando Sentinel as saying, “If you like a semi-socialist government where the highest aspiration is a nice secure government job, Puerto Rico is heaven on Earth, plus nice weather. Sadly, it is also a terrible basket case.”

    He said he was trying to make a point that most jobs in Puerto Rico are government jobs.

    “The suggestion was, well, the only jobs anyone would want to have in Puerto Rico are government jobs because that’s easy, ‘I don’t have to work very much.’ That was not the point at all. About 60 percent of the population in Puerto Rico works for the government, not because they want to, but because they have no other choice,” Oliver said.

    Oliver said he was referencing Puerto Rico’s government policies, not the people.

    Channel 9’s Nancy Alvarez asked Oliver asked Oliver if "basket case" was the best choice of works.

    Oliver said it wasn’t.

    The president of the Puerto Rican leadership council agreed.

    He said when you consider the power of the Hispanic vote, leaders on all sides should choose their words wisely.

    “Puerto Ricans are here to stay,” he said. “We are one of the biggest populations in central Florida and in the state, so he needs to deal with us.”

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