When René Pérez, aka Residente, introduced Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at a South Bronx rally on March 31, he passionately spoke about the many injustices Puerto Rico suffered at the hands of the United States. He also made it abundantly clear that he didn’t understand how those of Latin American descent could support Hillary Clinton.
This week, Residente had a one-on-one conversation with Bernie and questioned him about NSA surveillance, U.S.-Latin American relations, and Puerto Rico’s status as a colony. On why Puerto Rico hasn’t gained independence from the U.S., Bernie said, “Well, I think there are a lot of reasons for that. And a lot of those reasons have to do with the fact that powerful, special interest in this country would like to maintain the status quo. But, from my point of view, it’s not my job to determine the political future status of Puerto Rico.”
Bernie acknowledged that this gets complicated, because Puerto Ricans are split on the decision, but he said that as president, he’d let them decide through a referendum. When Residente pushed him on whether or not Puerto Ricans deserve to vote for the president, Sanders said that they could only gain that right if they became a state.
After speaking about the Puerto Rican financial crisis, Residente moved on to focus on Latin America as a whole. Here, the conversation shifted to the U.S.’s history of meddling in Latin American politics, which is especially pertinent as Hillary Clinton is forced to answer questions about her role in the 2009 ousting of former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. For his part, Bernie denounced the U.S.’ past history of getting involved in Latin American affairs.
“Under the Monroe Doctrine, what that was about was simply saying that the United States could do whatever it wanted in Latin America,” he said. “If they didn’t like a government, they could overthrow it. Obviously, that is completely absurd and unacceptable. The countries of Latin America deserve to be respected and treated as partners of the United States for economic and political reasons… The United States cannot continue to go into Latin America and overthrow [these governments]. The future of each country is going to be made by the people themselves.”
By the end of their conversation, Residente once again gave Bernie his seal of approval. Check out the entire interview above.