Yes, what you have been hearing and reading is true: Puerto Ricans are American citizens! American citizens without any rights! Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States of America, yet, the people there are suffering an inhumane situation due to the inactions of politicians in Washington.
From the landing of Columbus in 1492 until 1898, Puerto Rico was a colony of Spain. In 1898, Spain lost the Spanish-American War and ceded Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines to the United States. Cuba was made a protectorate of the U.S., and the U.S. bought the Philippines; however, Puerto Rico was not given its independence.
The U.S. took control of Puerto Rico right away as part of “The Treaty of Paris of 1898”. According to Lilliana Guerra, a professor at the University of Florida, Americans invaded Puerto Rico because American companies wanted to develop the sugar markets and it was obvious that Puerto Rico was situated in a great location.
After it’s invasion, Puerto Ricans were led to believe that they would be better off on the American side. Additionally, they were told that they would be free from their colonial government, a repressive form of government, and that they would get citizenship. Little did they know that the U.S. had other plans for the tiny well-placed island.
Accordingly, it took the U.S. 19 years to give the people of Puerto Rico citizenship. It granted citizenship to the island’s residents in 1917, conveniently just in time to allow 20,000 Puerto Ricans to be drafted to the First World War.
Since obtaining Citizenship, Puerto Ricans have endured without Congressional representation. Over time, they have come to feel like second class citizens, citizens without rights! They are allowed a representative in Congress that can not vote for anything or any laws. They can go to Congressional sessions where they are allowed to ask questions and listen in but are not allowed to vote. The only rights they have are the ones that are approved for them by the other Congressmen.
They have voted to become a state on many different occasions but Congress has not given it much thought and the explanation given is that the votes didn’t see enough turnout. Again, this is more about appearances than reality. It’s up to Congress to admit Puerto Rico into the union and give the Puerto Rican people their rights as the 51st State!
Maybe, one day, compassion will fill the hearts of those in Congress and they will finally do the right thing for Puerto Ricans. Only then will they finally be accepted as full citizens with liberty and justice for all under the U.S. Constitution.
Today, as America portrays itself around the world as “the land of the free and the home of the brave”, many observers would ask, how is it that there are Americans, in 2018, so oppressed, so abandoned, so forgotten in the midst of such a horrible humanitarian crisis?
Well, today, the reason why so many Americans in Puerto Rico are suffering without the aid from the federal government has become clear: the so-called U.S. President is a racist. He is openly expressing racist views and is never reprimanded for doing so by the leaders of the Republican Party, who are standing by silently complicit. The silence speaks volumes! It tells Puerto Ricans that many on the mainland approve of the blatantly racism. It tells us that in the midst of a horrendous humanitarian crisis following the devastating hurricane that the ruling party of Washington will not have their hearts moved by others suffering if the color of skin matches theirs!
Almost six months later, after hurricanes Maria and Mirna, Puerto Ricans are still suffering with a lack of food, water, medicine, electricity and housing. Basic needs of Puerto Ricans that Congress and President Trump are refusing to meet is clearly a result of the President’s belief that, as he said, “Puerto Ricans want everything to be given to them”.
Puerto Rico should have been a state with all the rights and passages that comes with that a long time ago, but Congress will never give Puerto Rico its statehood status. Why? Many politicians, from Washington during the first plebiscite, claimed that the Puerto Rican island was filled with aliens, people that weren’t ‘normal’ as compared to those in America. Following those loud voices, Congress decided to leave Puerto Rico as a territory rather than making it a state.
The U. S. and Puerto Rico has kept a sort of friendly but distant relationship over the years and now, there’s talk in Trump’s administration, that Puerto Rico needs to be treated as a foreign country. It was pointed out in the new “GOP Tax Bill” that the island treated as a foreign country by having to pay an imposed 12.5% tax on income that companies there receive from intellectual property. This encourages companies to want to relocate.
Now, when Puerto Ricans are barely recovering from hurricanes Irma and Maria, the insult on top of insult coming from Washington is deprecating! When is it okay to see your people falling and instead of picking them up, you kick them down harder? All that Puerto Ricans want, right now, is to pick themselves up. They want drinking clean water, tarps to cover their houses, food, electricity, and a roof over their heads. Mr. President, Why is it that you are worried about what they owed?
Too many Puerto Ricans have died because of these disasters. It’s inhumane to see people living in such conditions when there’s a remedy. And yes, more than 16 or 17 people have died. It’s now been estimated that more than one-thousand people have perished as a result of these hurricanes. However, Trump, in order to make himself look like he is on top of things, said that Puerto Rico didn’t have as many deaths as Katrina and that Puerto Ricans were lucky. This is incredibly insensitive.
The people of Puerto Rico deserve better! Congress needs to do better! Congress and the President needed to immediately ensure that Puerto Rico was made whole after the hurricanes. Congress and the Senate have a responsibility to the American people to protect and care for them without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, language or color of skin. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we stay silent about things that matter”. So my fellow Americans, do not keep silent! Speak up when you see abuse and mistreatment. Puerto Ricans are human beings! Let’s help our brothers and sisters!