Orlando Parga-Figueroa (born on February 6, 1939) is a Senator of Puerto Rico born in Mayaguez and currently resides in Caguas with his wife, Teresita. His father, Orlando Parga Tossas, was a leader of the Statehood Republican Party (SRP) and a right-hand man to SRP leader Miguel A. García Méndez.
"Orlandito", as he is known even in his senior years to distinguish him from his also-prominent father and namesake, became well-known in his own right when he was elected state president of the Republican Youth in 1957, a post to which he was reelected in 1960 and 1964. In 1968, he ran unsuccessfully for an at-large seat in the Puerto Rico House of Representatives under the SRP, which would disappear following that year's elections as the splinter New Progressive Party (NPP) won the Governorship, control of the House and Puerto Rico's non-voting seat in Congress. Over the next two decades, he served several top NPP officeholders, including Governor Ferré, San Juan Mayor and Governor Carlos Romero Barcelo, San Juan Mayor Baltasar Corrada Del Río and Guaynabo Mayor Alejandro Cruz. He ran unsuccessfully for Senator at-large in the 1991 and 1995 NPP primaries, and was finally elected to the post in a 1999 special election to fill the vacancy left by former Senate President Roberto Rexach Benitez' resignation.
Parga has devoted his whole life to the struggle to convert Puerto Rico into the 51st state of the Union. A prominent Republican who did not abandon the now-defunct Statehood Republican Party when the splinter New Progressive Party was created in 1967, he is known as "Mr. Republican" in Puerto Rican political circles. While many of his political views are clearly conservative, he has assumed liberal views on some issues, such as consumer protection.
After his 1999 special election win, he was nominated and elected to a full term in 2000 and served as Senate Minority Whip from 2001 to 2004, when he was elected to his second full term as Senator at-large. He currently serves as Vice President of the Puerto Rico Senate and, after being suspended from party offices within the New Progressive Party for his refusal to support defeated 2004 NPP gubernatorial candidate Pedro Rossello's bid to replace Kenneth McClintock as President of the Senate, was recommended for expulsion from the party in March, 2006, recommendation that was rejected by the party's General Assembly on August 20, 2006, when it issued a generic censure in its stead. Within the Senate, he has chaired since early 2005 the Committee on Consumer Affairs and Government Reports. As a result of the May 2005 split within the majority delegation, he assumed the chairmanship of the Federal, Industrial and Economic Affairs Committee of the Senate and of the Cordova and Fernos Congressional Internship Joint Committee. After Senator Héctor Martínez resigned the chairmanship of the Senate's Public Safety Committee, Parga was appointed its acting chair by the Senate President.
After public revelations that the Puerto Rico Capitol's surveillance camera system was being misused, in November 2005 he was appointed to chair the tripartisan Blue Ribbon Committee looking into the matter. His refusal to cover-up sworn statements suggesting administrative irregularities in the administration of the House of Representatives triggered the New Progressive Party directorate to recommend his expulsion, along with Senate President Kenneth McClintock.
On July 5, 2007, Parga announced that, rather than file for reelection under the NPP banner, he would aspire to become the first independent candidate to win election to the Senate and put all his Senate leadership positions at McClintock's disposal. The Senate President immediately reiterated his trust in him, although he would no longer appear in the slate of NPP candidates that, over 31 years had benefitted from McClintock's straight party vote.