San Juan, Puerto Rico — "It was a kick in the teeth," said a source close to Puerto Rico Gov. Carlos Romero Barcelo, referring to the Carter administration's proposal to send Cuban and Haitian refugees from the US mainland to Puerto rico and the US Supreme Court's decision Monday to lift a temporary ban on the move.
The prospect of 2,000 refugees going to the fort Allen military base on the island became a hot election issue for the governor, whose early substantial lead in a reelection campaign slipped to a mere 1 percent.
Governor Romero Barcelo was especially incensed because he had backed President Carter's reelection bid, Monitor Latin America correspondent James Nelson Goodsell writes.
James Gigante, director of the administration's Cuban-Haitian task force, said the first contingent of refugees will go to Puerto Rico later this week. Those sent will be Haitians who have just arrived in Florida. There are no plans as yet to send some 500 Cubans now staying in Miami hotels to Puerto Rico, he says. But they and some 800 more Haitians in Dade County, Fla., may be sent later if resettlement efforts fail.