Last week, the island of Puerto Rico along with other islands in the caribbean were hit hard by category 4 hurricane Maria. The natural disaster set back the island by nearly decades leaving it without power, running water and communication. Roads split apart, trees fell down, and homes were lost. Maria hit the entire island coming in from one end and exiting through another. Both towns were I have family- how ironic. Yabucoa, being my father’s hometown and Quebradillas, my grandmothers.
Not being able to reach family has been torturous. I spent the week trying to help my grandmother reach her sister and nephews. Everything from Facebook to an app called Zello which by the way were both very helpful. And there are still relatives we haven’t heard from. Can you imagine that? Not being able to reach your loved ones as you frantically watch the news and hear of three to sixteen deaths in the first week…
While Mother Nature has been having a field day with the world including the U.S. (Harvey and Irma), this one truly hit home for me. (And yes, I shed tears as I watched the people of Texas and Florida suffer on the news- I am human. No event is more important than the other- and let’s not forget Mexico and the devastation they have faced, too.) However, this is the island that gave me life. It is my father’s country and the land of my ancestors. It’s the music that lives within me, the culture and pride that I carry. It is the kindness I’ve been raised with- to always help others with whatever you can. And it is part of the U.S.A.
I don’t usually use my platform for politics or world news, but this probably the best place I can share. I’ve watched and read so many videos and articles and comments only to feel a mixture of emotions. Eight days later- we are finally seeing things happen. The people are finally getting aid. Eight days. When Sandy hit New Jersey I remember people going insane after the first day- fighting in line for gas and stealing generators. Can you imagine waiting so long for help? While I understand it is an island, it’s just mind boggling.
People are saying it’s a process and takes time. Then explain to me how New York City got there so fast?? And other celebrities, too… The problem is not even the aid- containers of supplies were just sitting at the dock. The problem was all the unnecessary red tape. In a time of need, it’s crazy that this would even be an issue. And don’t get me wrong, the military and so many people are doing a great job helping but Puerto Rico is a part of the United States and ridiculous things such as the Jones Act should have been lifted sooner. It is the time to be focusing on DEATHS and not DEBT as the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz stated.
I am a proud Puerto Rican, ask any Puerto Rican about their heritage and you will see their eyes light up. It’s the music, the island’s beauty, the people, the food. Visit the island and you will be welcomed and treated like family, I guarantee it. As someone who not only is proud of her heritage, growing up I served the Latino community by partaking in several events and later as Miss Puerto Rico for two cities in New Jersey. I used to sing at parades and festivals and work with youth to inspire them to learn about their heritage as well. It is a huge part of me and always will be. And that’s why I write this con todo el alma (with all of my heart). And I know it may take time but I know that Puerto Rico- se levanta <3
…But I won’t go into it much more- what I do want to do in this post is provide you with information on how you can help the American citizens of Puerto Rico. Please find it in your heart. Be human. This could happen to anyone.
Here’s how you can help:
You can also drop off items at places holding drives. Many drives are being held this weekend in your local community. Search facebook or call your local municipality to find out when and where.
There are also people selling items to raise funds or artists donating the proceeds of their music (Beyonce- MiGente)…
Or volunteer… PRVOAD
If you can’t do any of the above, help spread the word. Don’t allow Puerto Rico’s devastating situation go unnoticed and forgotten. The main reason things are getting done is because we have been heard, here, on the mainland. We must resist.
With much light & love,
In so many comments on forums, I have read the most ignorant of questions and remarks. People saying that Puerto Rico is not a part of the U.S. or that the people are not U.S. citizens and questioning what they have done to be a part of the U.S. It’s unbelievable to me… in case you are unaware, educate yourself. After all, it is part of American history.
Facts About P.R.
- Tainos- natives of the island. Mostly wiped out due to genocide and diseases spread by Europeans when Columbus arrived. (1492)
- Part of the Spanish empire as a result of colonization
- 1898 Spanish-American war. P.R. becomes a possession of the U.S.- the U.S. vows to protect the people and grant them citizenship because of their help to drive the Spanish out.
- 1900- Foraker Act- establishes a civil government
- 1917- Jones Act – makes Puerto Rico a U.S. State Territory, grants U.S. Citizenship with limitations- no voting rights (for U.S.). A bill of rights is also created and government powers are divided into three branches. Puerto Ricans serve in the U.S. military (WWI). Requires ships to be American, controls coast wide trade making everything more expensive. The Jones Act creates massive debt for the island. High loans from Wall Street are made and when P.R. cannot repay, minimum wage has to be cut, hospitals and schools are closed.
- 1898-1952 -annexation of Puerto Rico by the United States- no rights to use their flag or sing patriotic songs. Changes later on mainly because of politics/war. Reason for pride of the flag.
- The 65th Infantry Regiment- Puerto Rico served in WWI, WWII, Korean War, War on Terror. Awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
- Puerto Rico is exempt from the U.S. federal income tax, but it still pays Social Security and Medicare and local taxes and receives less federal funding than U.S. states.
- Fast forward- 2012- 61% wanted statehood. 2017- Puerto Rico votes for statehood but has a small turnout for votes. Congress does not approve.