By Elmer G. Roldan, @grand.supreme.chapin
Admit it, you don’t know shit about Puerto Rico.
I mean, you know the names of a few megastars with roots to the island; you probably sang along to Despacito; and, maybe you even heard that Oscar De La Hoya purchased a luxurious estate out there. But, that’s about all you know about America’s 52nd state.
What? You think cause they haven’t added a star to the flag that it don’t make Puerto Ricans Americans?
Puerto Rico is very much a part of the U.S. – it just gets treated like a stepchild.
Let me explain. Puerto Rico is an American colony: Commonwealth if you nasty. That means that, under U.S. law, Puerto Ricans can elect their own government officials including a governor and mayors. They even have their own House of Delegates, but zero voting power in the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives.
That means that the U.S. Congress reserves the right to annul any laws passed by those Puerto Rican government officials.
Allow me to translate: remember when your mom took you grocery shopping and she sent you to the cereal aisle to pick out a box? She then told you to choose the kind you wanted to eat. You were so naive!
You strolled back bearing a huge smile with a box of Cocoa Krispies in one hand and Lucky Charms in the other. Then, your mom sent your ass back to exchange them for Special K or some other shit that tasted like cardboard.
Did I mention that Puerto Ricans pay taxes but they can’t vote in the U.S. Presidential elections?
Anybody who tells you that Puerto Ricans choose to remain a territory of the U.S. is wrong. In fact, Puerto Rocks have made numerous attempts to gain their independence, dating back to the late 1800’s.
In 1914, the Puerto Rican House of Delegates unanimously voted to give the island its freedom. The U.S. Congress dismissed that vote and responded with the Jones Act in 1917, imposing U.S. Citizenship on all Puerto Ricans.
You may be asking yourself why having U.S. citizenship is a bad thing. Well, it comes with a huge price tag and it keeps the people on the island living in poverty.
A second Jones Act was passed in 1920, which barred Puerto Rico from doing business with other nations. This law does not allow any goods to be imported into Puerto Rico unless they are transported on U.S. made and owned ships that are operated by legal residents or citizens of this fine nation. This makes food and other products two times more expensive on the island than the 48 mainland states.
That’s the equivalent of you being an adult, living at home with your parents, paying all the bills, and your mom still makes your ass eat that Special K.
This second Jones Act is what Trump initially refused to pause, post Hurricane Maria, in order to allow the international community to send aid to Puerto Rico. He later responded to political pressure and paused it, but only for 10 days.
Alright, now that you know more about Puerto Ricans than JLo’s fine ass, Big Pun lyrics, Marc Anthony’s music, and Bacardi rum let’s jump into today’s lesson.
What? Do you have something better to be doing right now? Is this piece too long? Ok. I’ll hurry up and make my point.
In recent weeks, several U.S. states have been devastated by record-breaking natural disasters. The states most affected were Texas, Florida, California, and Puerto Rico. FEMA responded with disaster relief for all those places – except it hasn’t done its job in Puerto Rico.
In fact, the federal government’s response to the Puerto Rican crisis has been utterly unacceptable!
The severity of the crisis in Puerto Rico has left one million people without proper shelter or food. People are dying after drinking from the sewage because they lack clean water. Millions more are expected to go without power for up to six months!!
It’s been six weeks since Hurricanes Irma and Maria made landfall. That’s how long the Puerto Rican people have been surviving in these life-threatening conditions.
Ask yourself the following: how the fuck are kids supposed to go to school with no electricity? How are doctors supposed to perform surgery when the only source of light is from cell phones? When was the last time I went without light for 6 months? 6 weeks? 6 days? 6 minutes?
There’s been a bunch of bullshit surrounding the SNAFU of red tape and excuses given by the Trump Administration about why the relief efforts have been lackluster.
Most recently, Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, called for the creation of a position to focus exclusively on relief and recovery – a Puerto Rican Relief Czar of sorts.
This shit sounds like passing the buck to me. Another excuse to blame anybody but themselves for the unacceptable response to the needs of Americans living on the island – it’s reminiscent of how the Bush Administration mishandled Hurricane Katrina.
This isn’t only on the Republicans. Democrats need to step their advocacy up for Puerto Rico. As long as all 535 members of Congress have the power to determine the fate of the island, this shit is on all of y’all!!
I’m willing to bet a kidney that President Trump doesn’t even know where Puerto Rico is on a map. Shit, I’m surprised that this muthafucka didn’t ask Puerto Rico to pay for the Border Wall during his speech when he scolded the Boricuas for how much the clean-up efforts would cost.
For the last one hundred years, the resistance has remained alive and never has the Puerto Rican liberation movement made more sense than it does today!
So, yeah, we’re gonna keep talking about Puerto Rico until the people get proper relief and until the people gain their freedom.
This piece heavily references Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America by Juan Gonzalez. Please read that book and watch the documentary. It’ll change your life.