Carmelo Ríos is the new president of the NHCSL
Rios will be the new leader of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, after a nomination without competition.
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At a time when the US government seems to have forgotten the fate of thousands of Puerto Ricans, the emergence of a Puerto Rican leader is only a symptom of the need for a new political perspective.
Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carmelo J. Rios Santiago is a politician and senator, who has been a part of the Puerto Rico Senate since 2005. Rios was trained at the Florida Air Academy in 1991 and at Valencia Community College where he graduated with a degree in economics, to later specialize in Political Science and Law at the University of Daytona Beach and at the Pontifical University of Puerto Rico.
Thus, Ríos began his political career in 1999 within the Legislative Assembly of Guaynabo – the town where he attended high school - and in November 2004 he was elected Senator of the Bayamón district, where he joined the Financial Affairs Committee.
During the past week, and after the candidacy process was closed, a document was issued declaring Ríos as the only candidate for the position of president of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL), as reported by El Nuevo Día. The senator for the District of Bayamón will be ratified in the post during the convention that the organization will have between the 22nd and 25th of February in Chicago.
Ríos has come to office through a gradual work that has taken him eight years, since he began as a parliamentarian, until 2015 when he became the first vice president of a group of more than 400 Hispanic representatives and senators from across the nation.
"I am super honored to be the first president of the National Hispanic to have no opposition," said Ríos. "It's like recognizing that 'we trust you.' It is a challenge".
The Senator will have to divide his time between the maximum position of the NHCSL and his responsibilities with the district of Bayamón, but he assured that he would establish a balance between both positions.
"Part of the success of being president is being able to coordinate with local legislators to address the issues, address the Latino agenda in the United States, and the entire elected board has this responsibility," he said.
The election of Rios for the position is decisive at a time when Puerto Rico suffers the collateral damages of the devastating passage of Hurricane Maria and an almost total abandonment on the part of Washington.
"At the most critical moment, to be one of the most influential Hispanics in term of leadership while residing in Puerto Rico and to be able to carry the message, to be able to carry a clear message (of my) experience as an Islander and Latino about the misnamed minority, is fundamental. Now, Puerto Rico is going to have that voice, it's going to be a very strong voice in Washington," he said.