Interview with Darren Soto on June 14, 2019

CENTRO: 100 Puerto Ricans Oral History Project, 2013-

00:00:00 Soto was born in New Jersey to a Puerto Rican father from Manatí and an Italian mother. Soto’s family was very close and as a child he visited Sabana Hoyos in Arecibo, Puerto Rico very often. Soto explains that he comes from a family active in government and politics. 00:04:10 In 2001, Soto came to Florida to visit his family and knew it would be his home, calling himself a “FloriRican”. 00:07:22 Soto joined the “Young Democrats Party” and met key people in the area. Soto explains that after Robert Guevara won the elections for Osceola County Commissioner, the change from a single member to a large district was enforced to prevent a Hispanic from winning again. Soto explains that for a long time he was the only Puerto Rican in the State Senate. 00:12:10 From 2012 until 2014, Soto states that there was an increase of Puerto Ricans in Central Florida politics and even though there was a 60 to 70% Hispanic population in the area, it was hard to win an election. As of today, Soto’s constituents are 48% Anglo, 42% Hispanics and some African Americans and Asians. Soto mentions that in Florida there is an estimated 1.3 million Puerto Ricans, but they are scattered around the state, one reason being is that Puerto Ricans that worked in the military tend to stay close to the assigned area. 00:17:10 Soto explains that Trump's administration fought against and never approved the help for the housing dilemma encountered by Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricane Maria. 00:20:00 Soto states that he had to make coalitions with different ethnic groups to alleviate the housing problem, especially as many Puerto Rican migrants did not know when they would return to the island. 00:22:17 Congressman Soto emunerates the steps that he has taken in energizing the Puerto Rican economy, including transitioning from expensive oil to renewable gas, bringing back agriculture to the island, and promoting eco-tourism. 00:29:00 Soto explains the concept of Congressional Blockchain Caucus and the implications. 00:32:17 Soto encourages Puerto Rican students to pursue careers in math, science and technology. 00:39:00 Soto expresses that in order to be able to reach a position of power, it is critical that Puerto Rican children acquire a good education.

June 14, 2019, Recording date
Darren Soto
Mareitssa Griggs
42m 0.0s
Location of interview

Kissimmee, FL

Object Type
Moving Image
Related Keywords
Politicians, Voting, Education, Leaders
Individuals or Organizations Mentioned
Robert Guevara, National Young Democrats
Related Places
Kissimmee, FL (interview location), New Jersey (is referenced), Arecibo, PR (is referenced), Orlando, FL (is referenced)
Related Dates
1990s, Date mentioned
2001, Date mentioned
2012 – 2014, Date mentioned
2019, Date mentioned
CENTRO: 100 Puerto Ricans Oral History Project, 2013-. Interview with Darren Soto on June 14, 2019: DSot.2019.06.14.fullinterview. Center for Puerto Rican Studies Library & Archives, Hunter College, CUNY. Web. 14 Aug 2020.
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No Copyright - Non-Commercial Use Only

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Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Library and Archives
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