Eduardo Bhatia

Eduardo Bhatia
15th President of the Puerto Rico Senate
Assumed office
January 14, 2013
Preceded by Thomas Rivera Schatz
Minority Whip of the Puerto Rico Senate
In office
January 12, 2009  January 14, 2013
Preceded by Sila María González
Succeeded by Carmelo Ríos Santiago
Director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration
In office
Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá
Preceded by Mari Carmen Aponte
Succeeded by Flavio Cumpiano
Personal details
Born Eduardo Bhatia Gautier
(1964-05-16) May 16, 1964
San Salvador, El Salvador
Political party Popular Democratic
Other political
Spouse(s) Isabel Cristina Fernández
Alma mater Princeton University
Stanford University
Religion Roman Catholicism

Eduardo Bhatia Gautier[lower-alpha 1] (born in May 16, 1964) is an attorney-at-law and the current and 15th President of the Senate of Puerto Rico. Bhatia is also a former executive director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration and a Fulbright scholar.

Early life and education

Eduardo Bhatia was born in San Salvador, El Salvador, on May 16, 1964. Bhatia’s father, the economist and retired professor Mohinder Bhatia, came to Puerto Rico in 1957 as an assistant to a Syracuse University professor who had been in India on a one-year sabbatical. He remained in Puerto Rico and married Carmen Gautier Mayoral[lower-alpha 2] in 1960, a political science professor at the University of Puerto Rico and niece-in-law of Felisa Rincón de Gautier. Eduardo Bhatia is one of three siblings. His brother, Andrés Bhatia, is a practicing oncologist in Gainesville, Florida, and his sister, Lisa Bhatia, is an assistant U.S. attorney at the San Juan District office of the U.S. Attorney.[1][2]

Bhatia attended Princeton University, obtaining his Bachelor's degree in Government and Public Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 1986. During Bhatia's university years, he was a member of the Princeton Democratic Students Association and the Student Council, actively participating in the student movement against Apartheid in South Africa. In May 1986, Bhatia was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study law, economics and politics in Santiago, Chile for one year.[3]

Bhatia graduated from Stanford Law School in June 1990 where he founded and edited the "Stanford Journal of Law and Policy", an academic publication with an emphasis on the development of new laws and public policy. As part of his community work as a law student in Stanford, Bhatia also successfully directed a campaign to prevent the approval of a rent increase in the low-income East Palo Alto community. He is admitted to practice law in Florida, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico.[3]

Professional career

After graduating, Bhatia worked for a year as a Judicial Officer for Judge Levin H. Campbell, at the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston, Massachusetts. From 1991 to 1992, he was the Chief of Staff for Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico Jaime Fuster in Washington, DC. From 1993 to 1995, Bhatia worked as a lawyer for the San Juan-based law firm McConnell Valdés.[3][4]

Political career

First term as Senator: 1996-2000

In 1996, at the age of 32, Bhatia was elected Senator at Large by the Popular Democratic Party, becoming the youngest Puerto Rican senator in that four-year term and one of the youngest in the history of the Senate of Puerto Rico. As member of numerous Senatorial committees and spokesperson for his party, his efforts were focused toward increasing employment and educational opportunities for Puerto Rico's youth. He also sought consensus, joining PNP senators in co-sponsoring legislation. An example was the introduction of a bill with Sen. Kenneth McClintock to improve financial education in public schools, which was vetoed by Gov. Pedro Rosselló.[5] A political analyst acknowledged his hard work by calling Mr. Bhatia "Puerto Rico's top senator."[3]

Campaign for mayor of San Juan: 2000-2003

In 2000, ran for mayor of San Juan against New Progressive Party candidate Jorge Santini. However, he was defeated by less than 4,000 votes.[6] After that, Bhatia worked as a lawyer in private practice and as a professor at the University of Puerto Rico, School of Law in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. During this time Bhatia was also involved in community work.[3]

Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration: 2005-2008

In January 2005, Governor Aníbal Acevedo-Vilá appointed Bhatia as Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration in Washington, DC. As such, Bhatia represented the Governor on matters before state and federal agencies as well as before Congress and the Executive branch. He managed PRFAA's staff in the areas of Government Affairs, Federal Grants, Communications, Outreach and Public Affairs and Community Affairs, to carry out the agency's mission of advancing the well-being of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and of Puerto Ricans in the United States.

As the Governor's Official Representative in the United States, he worked in education, health and environmental issues. He had also been working in special projects that will help increase economic growth in Puerto Rico's rural areas.[7]

Bhatia resigned to the position on February 15, 2008 to run again for Senator. He was succeeded by attorney Flavio Cumpiano.

Second term as Senator: 2008-present

Bhatia was elected as an official Senate candidate in the PPD primary on March 9, 2008 becoming the second most voted person of all the pre-candidates for Senate.[8] At the 2008 general elections, Bhatia won one of only five Senate seats obtained by his party.[9] After the elections, the PPD Senate caucus reelected Senator José Luis Dalmau for a third term as PDP Floor Leader and elected Bhatia as Minority Whip.

Bhatia presented his candidacy for reelection in 2012. At the primaries that year, he was the candidate with most votes, securing his spot for the general elections.[10] During the elections, Bhatia was the PPD candidate to the Senate with most votes, and the second overall. After the win, Senator Eduardo Bhatia was elected among his peers as the 15th President of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Tenure as Senate President

During his tenure as Senate President, Bhatia was selected as Chair of the Council of State Governments of the Eastern Regional Conference (CSG-ERC) and later elected as President of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, by 72% of the vote, becoming the first Senate President and the first Puerto Rican, resident of the island to preside over the organization. He also seats in the board of the Council of State Government (CSG), National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) and the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA). During his tenure, he has authored Puerto Rico's Energy Reform law and has tackled education reform legislation.

Personal life

Bhatia is currently married to Panamanian attorney Isabel Cristina Fernández.[11]


  1. This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Bhatia and the second or maternal family name is Gautier.
  2. This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Gautier and the second or maternal family name is Mayoral.


  1. "Eduardo Bhatia will run for mayor of San Juan". News India. March 3, 2006. Archived from the original on November 15, 2006. Retrieved December 29, 2012.
  2. "← Aprovechan ahorrarse el IVU Cuidado con fraude por correo electrónico→ Eduardo Bhatia lamenta que aveces los más ignorantes son los que más poder tienen" (in Spanish). Primera Hora. 16 July 2011. Retrieved 26 June 2015. Su madre, Carmen Gautier Mayoral, sobrina de doña Felisa Rincón, le inculcó el compromiso social. De su padre, Mohinder Bhatia, heredó el color de piel, sus facciones y la visión crítica. Su progenitor es un economista sobreviviente de la guerra entre Pakistán y la India, que llegó a Puerto Rico a finales de los años 50, reclutado para el programa Manos a la obra y se casó con su madre, que terminaba sus estudios graduados en Londres.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Archived from the original on June 29, 2007. Retrieved November 4, 2007. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. "Hon. Eduar Dobhatia Gautier". Retrieved 2015-03-07.
  5. Bhatia, Mohinder (November 5, 2007). "Column on senators Bhatia and McClintock financial education bill". The San Juan Star.
  6. Archived June 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. Archived December 12, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. "Primarias 2008 Escrutinio PPD". Retrieved 2015-03-07.
  9. Archived November 20, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. "Primarias Locales 2012 PPD". Retrieved 2015-03-07.
  11. Archived from the original on November 15, 2006. Retrieved November 4, 2007. Missing or empty |title= (help)
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