Puerto Rico Erupting in Protests Against Govenor

https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/22/us/puerto-rico-protests-monday/index.html

Did you know that for 11 straight days Puerto Ricans have been protesting all over the island, demanding the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rossello.

One of the sparks that lit the fire in PR came from the release of racists, sexist, and homophobic messages between Rossello and 11 top aides. Puerto Ricans are displaying their fury by taking to the streets and calling for Rossello’s immediate resignation.

This is not the beginning of PR residents’ discontent. Puerto Rico has been dealing with high unemployment, coupled with ongoing debt. As you can see from the chart below, Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate has been consistently higher than in mainland US states.

After Hurricane Maria swept the island in September 2017, some waited 11 months for power to be restored. Delayed federal aid has done little to alleviate the issues. Rossello drew criticism when his administration granted a small company from Montana a $300 million contract to help clean up Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

Several officials were arrested for corruption just days before the messages came to light. These officials funneled $15.5 million to unqualified, personally connected vendors.

 

The two former Puerto Rico leaders — Julia Keleher, who was the secretary of the island’s department of education before stepping down in April, and Ángela Ávila-Marrero, who led Puerto Rico’s Health Insurance Administration until last month — were arrested by FBI agents on Wednesday.

Prosecutors wrote in the indictment that the conspiracy involved the two former public officials giving four associates an inside track to contracts.

Once secured, authorities say the contractors benefited by paying “unauthorized commissions” to other individuals to lobby government for more contracts, a dynamic authorities described as “a corrupt bidding process.”

NPR

From NPR on July 11, 2019

TYT’s Ana Kasparian, Brooke Thomas, and Francesca Fiorentini discussed this issue on July 16. See the video below.

CBSN also covered the story:

The population of PR has been dwindling due to the lack of jobs and the ongoing conditions these citizens of the United States have been forced to live under.

The protesters have vowed to keep the pressure on Rossello, although he has stated he will not run for re-election. They want him gone now.

Did you now?

 

Gwendolyn J

 

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10 thoughts on “Puerto Rico Erupting in Protests Against Govenor

  1. Your article is informative and I really got a message about the behavior of public office holders in awarding contracts that was not done,corruption is a cancer in the body of any nation and retarding development,both human and capital,public asset in the covers of private individuals,I learnt a lesson from this write up,thank you

    1. Abayomi,

      You’re welcome and it is my pleasure. I hope to make people aware of issues like this. Even if nothing is done to help these people, knowledge of the problems can affect future outcomes.

      Thank you for stopping by,

      Gwendolyn J

  2. Hi Gwendolyn! I didn’t know all this was taking place in Puerto Rico right now. I knew there was discontent after the island was swept by Hurricane Maria in September 2017. But I didn’t know it had escalated.

    Puerto Rico needs to strengthen it’s institutions. With week institutions, there is always room for corruption. I hope they soon find a way to alleviate all this tension.

    1. Henry,

      Puerto Rico is in dire straits and has been for decades. Part of this is due to US impositions that make it illegal to dock a ship directly in Puerto Rico. They have to stop at a US port first, then go to PR. Goods must also be carried by US ships with US crew, which increases the price of anything delivered or exported from PR. This is part of the Jones Act

      “One section of the law requires goods transported by ship from one US destination to another to be carried on US-flagged ships that were constructed in the United States, owned by US citizens, and crewed by US legal permanent residents and citizens. The idea, basically, is that in case of war there should always be a big supply of American-made, American-owned, American-crewed ships that could be counted on (and, if necessary, conscripted) to supply American commerce even in hazardous conditions.” (Vox.com)

      Continuing:

      “An absence of domestic port-to-port shipping is an occasional distortion for the US mainland, but it’s a systemic economic impediment for places like Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico, in particular, is so close to the United States that the most cost-effective way to transport many goods there would be for ships to stop off en route to a mainland port. But under the Jones Act, foreign-originating goods must be dropped off in Jacksonville and then shipped to Puerto Rico via an exorbitantly expensive Jones-compliant vessel. Likewise, it costs far more to ship US-produced goods to Puerto Rico than it does to Jamaica.

      This raises the cost of living on Puerto Rico, makes Puerto Rico an unattractive place to produce goods bound for the US mainland, and has the bizarre effect of putting Puerto Rico at a competitive disadvantage to other Caribbean islands as a destination for American tourists.

      In the US Virgin Islands, which are exempt from the law, US-made goods are about half as expensive, while the cost of living in Puerto Rico is 13 percent higher than on the American mainland. Food on Puerto Rico costs twice as much as it does in Florida, and that’s before the devastation of the island’s agriculture by Hurricane Maria.” (Vox.com)

      Their economy is strangled by US interests. If we allowed them to truly compete on the open market, they may have a chance to recover and actually build substantial revenue streams for the people of the island. 

      The Jones Act has been waived in time of crises, most recently Hurrican Maria, but the US shipping industry fights this each and every time. The waiver is temporary and the limited benefits to PR citizens are far too short to make a lasting positive impact on the economy.

      Gwendolyn J

  3. Puerto Rico is a great country, where my cousins on my mother’s side were from. It is sad to hear the saga of the sufferings of millions of Puerto Ricans and the American Citizens living there are worsening by the day. The endemic corruption is so entrenched that it went up to the top executives of the government. Now the point of no return had come when even the Governor, Ricard o Rosello has committed disgusting acts, He has been exchanging sexist messages with his 11 top aides. The 11 days protest was a long time coming. The culmination was caused by the the inept leadership of the Governor who I suppose must step down immediately to save PR.

    1. Gr8,

      The people of Puerto Rico are American citizens. Unfortunately, a lot of people do not seem to recall this. They have been a US Territory since 1898, after the Spanish-American War. Spain had declared Puerto Rico an independent nation, but the US wanted to implement a sugar industry there. Instead of granting Puerto Ricans full statehood and thus citizenship, they were designated a territory because:

      “With the westward expansion of the 19th century, the U.S. established “incorporated territories” that could and did become formal American states—like the Colorado Territory. But in 1901, a series of legal opinions known as the Insular Cases argued that Puerto Rico and other territories ceded by the Spanish were full of “alien races” who couldn’t understand “Anglo-Saxon principles.” Therefore, the Constitution did not apply to them, and Puerto Rico became an “unincorporated territory” with no path forward to statehood.” (History.com)

      The thriving coffee industry in Puerto Rico was displaced by the US sugar industry, which created “massive poverty” for Puerto Ricans. Even though many Puerto Ricans sided with the US in the Spanish-American War, they did not receive US citizenship until 1917, but this was not due to American altruism. They needed bodies for WWI.

      “Puerto Ricans were outraged after the war. Instead of becoming citizens, Puerto Ricans were in limbo. “They didn’t even have a passport; they didn’t have any legal standing in the U.S. system until 1917. 

      “That year, Puerto Ricans became U.S. citizens under the Jones-Shafroth act—this way the U.S. could deploy them as troops during World War I (similar to how the Emancipation Proclamation legalized the Union’s use of black troops). The federal government believed that white people weren’t suited to fight in tropical climates because they didn’t have immunity to the diseases found there. Instead, the U.S. sent Puerto Rican “immunes,” as they were called, to defend the Panama Canal.” (History.com)

      See  History.com for more information.

      Our history with PR is fraught with imperialism and disregard. We either need to release them as an independent nation so they can handle their own affairs or fully incorporate them as a state so we can right our wrongs committed there. 

      PR’s economic and societal issues did not just start two weeks ago. They have been ongoing and the US has done too little to help them overcome them.

      Gwendolyn J

  4. I had no idea there were protests going in Puerto Rico. The level of corruption is too shocking. Its good to see people stand up from themselves. Its sad to see people still struggling from Hurricane Maria 2 years on. I did have one suggestion, could you indicate what PR means. For example, “The two former Puerto Rico (PR)…” you could do something like this once the first time you mention Puerto Rico, that way when slow minded people see PR somewhere down the page we already know what it is. Nice article.

    P.s I finally got what PR meant when I got to the end of the article. Lol

    1. Ronald,

      Sorry about the confusion!  I am glad I was able to bring this to your attention. It has been talked about on cable networks news, but I think a lot of people -like myself- don’t really watch much of that. It is too full of slanted, biased reporting. If you’re a fact-checker, like me, you get fed up with the outright lies or omissions rampant in today’s mainstream media. 

      And of course, the underreported, or unreported events and happenings can blindside us. I have many DYN (Do You Know) pieces on standby. Come on back to stay informed!

      Puerto Rico’s problems are multifold and multigenerational. The impositions of US rulership are ridiculous and frankly stupid. They are being sucked dry and they cannot even vote for Presidents!

      Isn’t that why the colonies rebelled and fought to become the US? We have become the dragon we slew. 

      Hopefully, PR won’t decide to give us what we gave England over 200 years ago. Hopefully, we can bring them into the Union as the 51st state so they can finally enjoy the full benefits of being US citizens, while we still have such benefits.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Gwendolyn J

  5. Hello Gwendolyn J,
    Public protest is like a daily work now a days. Most of the countries all over the world are protesting every day either against corruption or for their rights. Corruption has become an extra part of our society like a cancer cell which must needs treatment. But goverments and legal authorities can not show the light of success. So we the people need to protest. However good to know about Peurto Rico protesting against the govenor corruption. This is inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Snigdha,

      It seems the only way to get politicians to pay any kind of attention to what the people want is to take to the street and make our desires known.  Votes can’t be trusted to give us what we need any more, because they keep cutting up areas to benefit them, to bring the voters they want into their jurisdiction, and they still don’t do what they are supposed to do which is represent us.

      Many politicians conveniently forget who they actually work for once they get in office. It is up to us to remind them by whatever means they actually respond to.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Gwendolyn J

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