Daniel Quiñones had not been in the United States for more than a couple of weeks before he faced the fear held by every young adult peddling a fake ID – a bouncer checked his license and turned him away from the bar. The only problem is that Quiñones is 23, well past the legal drinking age, and presented a license from Puerto Rico, which is valid form of identification, similar to an out-of state license.
The reported incident raises the question regarding a business’s responsibility to be able to serve patrons of all cultures and the importance of cultural sensitivity on the job.
Quiñones, formerly a student at Universidad de Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras in San Juan, had recently moved to the United States and was looking to have a fun night out with friends in Hartford. When he presented his license to enter the Pig’s Eye Pub, the bouncer allegedly told him that he needed another form of identification and asked to see his passport, which he did not have.
Quiñones recounted the incident, saying that after presenting his license, the bouncer said he did not recognize it, so he was unable to prove that it was real.
“I was last in line behind my friends and showed him my ID, it’s a valid Puerto Rican ID,” Quiñones explained.
Licenses from Puerto Rico, as well as from territories like American Samoa, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, are in the same standing as an out-of-state license, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
More than anything, Quiñones said he was disappointed by the incident, especially since he had experienced no problems when he presented his license at the nearby club.
Without his passport on him, Quiñones had no choice but to leave with his friends and take their business elsewhere, rather than taking up the issue with the manager.
However, Joyce Bolaños, the mother of a friend Quiñones had gone out with that night, felt something needed to be said. When she called the manager of the bar to resolve the issue, she claimed she was met with more “ignorance.”
According to Bolaños, a well known Hartford activist, the manager she spoke with said he was from Puerto Rico but he had never seen a Puerto Rican license either, and that they did not come across them much because “Puerto Ricans don’t go [there] a lot, they go to Casona.”
She added that the manager offered to meet with Quiñones should he return to the bar and would let him in, but Bolaños said the damage had already been done.
“I told him he should train his staff and let them know that [Puerto Rico] is a U.S. territory, and to check the bar book before coming to conclusions,” she said. “To say that they’re not used to Puerto Ricans coming in, it’s kind of an insulting comment.”
The words struck a nerve with Bolaños as a Latina; who was born in Peru, but spent time in Puerto Rico. “My family were immigrants from Peru to Puerto Rico for 40 years,” she explained. Bolaños made Connecticut home in 2000.
At this point, she said, Latinos are a majority, and it is the community’s responsibility to educate others.
“They’re not teaching in the schools about the U.S. territories or the Spanish-American War, and from the Pig’s Eye balcony the other weekend they could have seen thousands of Puerto Ricans in the [Puerto Rican Day] parade,” she said. “To me, it’s pretty ignorant. The new generations are mixed.”
CTLatinoNews.com checked with the Liquor Control Commission, which is part of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection to determine what identification is acceptable. According to state laws, establishments have the burden of proof as to following the law in serving alcohol. The commission is only responsible for regulating the sale of alcohol to minors in Connecticut and work to ensure that liquor laws are obeyed.
The Pig’s Eye Pub did not return repeated calls for comment.