Culture

Here Are Nine Fascinating Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Puerto Rico

Over the last couple of years, Puerto Rico has been in the news probably more than ever. From the lingering effects of Hurricane Maria to the resignation of the island’s governor over a sexist and homophobic scandal, Puerto Rico has seen its share of environmental and political drama. Meanwhile, the island is also home to some of the world’s top artists – Ricky Martin, Bad Bunny, Residente – just to name a few.

But unless you or your family are actually Puerto Rican, very few people really know the island. Scratch the surface, though, and you’ll uncover all manner of surprising facts far beyond the white sands and crystal-clear waters. Whether it’s science, geography or politics, here are nine fascinating insights into this unique and beautiful island.

1. Rum, Rum, And Más Rum

Credit: BacardiUSA / Instagram

Rum is the libation of choice, the island’s chief export, and the base ingredient in many of Puerto Rico’s best cocktails. Puerto Rico and rum go way back, about 400 years, give or take a decade. Bacardi and Don Q are the largest producers on the island.

Puerto Rico is the only rum producer in the world to maintain a minimum aging law for its rum. You can get three main categories of rum here: light, dark, and añejo, or aged.

2. It’s About The Size Of Connecticut

Credit: Google Earth

Given its population (it’s one of the most densely populated islands in the world), Puerto Rico is a relatively small place. If it were a state, it would be down near the bottom of the list in terms of size, even if you include the network of islands around the mainland.

3. It’s Home To The World’s Largest Radio Telescope

Credit: NASA Blueshift / Flickr

Not known as a scientific hub, Puerto Rico has a technological marvel nestled in the hills of Arecibo. The dish measures 1,000 feet in diameter, spans about 20 acres, and is the most sensitive radio telescope in the world.

There’s a chance you’ve seen the Arecibo radio telescope, even if you’ve never been to Puerto Rico before. In the climactic last scene in the James Bond movie Goldeneye, the (inevitable) showdown between 007 and the bad guy takes place right here.

4. It’s Mascot Is The Unique Coquí Tree Frog

Credit: UIG / Getty

Anyone who has been to Puerto Rico is familiar with the incredible coquí, which is native to the island. The inch-long amphibian has a powerful and melodic voice, and its high-pitched, chirrupy song can be heard for miles.

The coquís sing from dusk to dawn, and while the locals find this a lilting lullaby, unsuspecting foreigners aren’t always comforted by their song. But they are cute, and a much-loved symbol of Puerto Rico.

5. It’s One Of The World’s Beauty Queen Capitals

Credit: Alfredo Marcia / Flickr

The Miss Universe beauty pageant is one of the biggest and most famous across the globe. Among the countries whose representatives have won the title more than once is Puerto Rico. Despite the island’s small size and population in comparison with other countries, 5 winners have come from Puerto Rico: Marisol Malaret, Deborah Carthy Deu, Dayanara Torres, Denise Quinones, and Zuleyka Rivera.

6. The Island Was Home To Real Life Pirates

El Pirata Cofresi is Puerto Rico’s most famous, real-life pirate as the legend goes. Born in the seaside town of Cabo Rojo, he was encouraged to dream about exploring the sea from sailors in town.

According to Cofresi Palm Resort, as a pirate Cofresi would attack boats and share his spoils with the poor and as a result, people would help him hide. Compared to Robin hood for his actions, there is a story that says that some of his treasure may still be hidden.

7. It’s Home To Its Own Version Of The Galapagos Islands

Credit: US National Park Service

Off the western shore of mainland Puerto Rico you’ll find Mona Island, a natural reserve unspoiled by man. It has been compared to the Galapagos Islands for its natural beauty and its colony of iguanas. These iguanas, known as the Mona Iguana, are found nowhere else on earth, adding to the uniqueness of this ecosystem.

8. Coconuts Aren’t Native To Puerto Rico – Or The Americas At All

Credit: Unsplash

You might picture yourself on the beach sipping delicious coconut water out of a freshly cut coconut, but did you know that coconuts are not native to the Americas?

The coconut was introduced to Puerto Rico in 1542, after the Spanish imported it from the Far East. Soon after it became part of the colonial Spanish diet and eventually emerged in one of the most popular drinks on the island – the Piña Colada.

9. San Juan Served As Headquarters During The Spanish Inquisition

Credit: ViejoPR / Instagram

The Catholic Church has played an important role in the history and development of Puerto Rico since the early 1500s. As mentioned before, the oldest church still in use in the Americas was built in Old San Juan in 1522, yet, in 1519 Pope Leo X declared Puerto Rico the first ecclesiastical headquarters in the New World. 

As a result, Puerto Rico became the epicenter of the Spanish Inquisition – one of the most barbaric and infamous events of Western civilization.

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‘Siempre, Luis’ Is A Touching Love Letter From Lin-Manuel Miranda To His Father

Entertainment

‘Siempre, Luis’ Is A Touching Love Letter From Lin-Manuel Miranda To His Father

Mat Hayward / Getty Images for The Latinx House

We all have that one person who has changed the world for us. For Lin-Manuel Miranda, that person is his dad. The Puerto Rican entertainer created a documentary to tell his father’s story and it is a love letter to his father.

“Siempre, Luis” is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s love letter to his father.

The trailer for the HBO Documentary is a moving testament to the indomitable spirit of Luis Miranda. The Puerto Rican powerhouse helped lead a movement to get Latinos involved in and interested in politics focusing on Puerto Ricans who had left the island.

Lin-Manuel’s documentary is a deep dive into the life of the man who raised the creator of “In The Heights” and “Hamilton.” Luis was Lin-Manuel’s inspiration when playing Alexander Hamilton in his wildly popular and famous musical.

“He’s just a relentless motherf*cker,” Lin-Manuel says in the documentary.

The documentary takes people on a ride covering decades of Luis’ life. The main focus is his political activism and how one man helped create a movement to get Latinos involved in politics. Luis leveraged the hate and pushback against the Latino community as a way to energize and mobilize Latinos to get them involved like never before.

Then, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, Luis’ home and magical escape. The island endured a direct hit from Hurricane Maria, which knocked out power to millions of Americans for months. Many Puerto Ricans fled the island for the mainland giving them a chance to vote for president in 2020.

“For me, Puerto Rico is this perfect place that all of a sudden doesn’t exist anymore,” Luis says through tears in the documentary. “I immediately saw it as my responsibility to rebuild the island.”

He added: “Doing everything we can becomes the job.

“I told him, ‘I don’t want to be a widow. There isn’t another you to replace you,’” Luz Towns-Miranda recalls to the camera about her husband’s mission to fix Puerto Rico.

Luis’ time talking about his work in Puerto Rico is accompanied by videos images of the “Hamilton” stage being constructed for the show on the island. There are shots of Luis offering aid to people and preparing meals for those impacted by the hurricane.

Luis’ activism has grown over the years and he is ready to keep making change.

“Siempre, Luis” is now available on HBO and HBOmax for your viewing pleasure. People have praised the film’s insightfulness into one of the Latinos who got his community activated and politically engaged.

READ: Lin-Manuel Wants To Keep Lots Of Ticket Prices Down To $10 When He Brings ‘Hamilton’ To Puerto Rico

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Puerto Rico’s Governor Endorses President Trump’s Reelection

Things That Matter

Puerto Rico’s Governor Endorses President Trump’s Reelection

Ricardo Arduengo / AFP via Getty Images

The 2020 election is heating up as Nov. 3 draws closer. Both Joe Biden and President Donald Trump are seeking every endorsement possible and Puerto Rico’s governor just gave hers. Her endorsement has stunned Puerto Ricans and political pundits alike.

Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced endorsed President Donald Trump in his reelection.

Vázquez Garced was appointed as governor in 2019 following a tumultuous time on the island. Politically, Puerto Rico has recently undergone a series of protests because of political corruption and a chat scandal involving then-Governor Ricardo Rosselló.

Gov. Rosselló attempted to appoint his own successor before resigning following growing protest but the Puerto Rico Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional. Vázquez Garced was then appointed as governor. The Puerto Rican people then turned their protests against Rosselló to be against Vázquez Garced. #WandaRenuncia began trending when Rosselló announced his resignation.

The endorsement stunned people who just don’t understand why that endorsement happened.

“I ask all Puerto Ricans who are listening to go vote,” the governor said in an interview on Telemundo. “They have to go to vote, exercise their right to vote and evaluate who has represented being a person who thinks about Puerto Ricans and their needs at the most difficult moment. It is Donald Trump.”

The endorsement came as a surprise for people following President Trump’s disastrous response after Hurricane Maria. The president spent months denying the death count of the natural disaster and fought against aid to the island. It was during this time that the viral video of him throwing paper towels into a crowd of people hit Twitter sparking outrage among the Puerto Rican people.

Puerto Ricans really want people to remember that Vázquez Garced was not elected by the Puerto Rican people.

Vázquez Garced was supposed to accompany President Trump to a campaign event in Central Florida on Friday. Covid put a pause on that so the governor took time during an interview with Telemundo to offer her endorsement of President Trump.

Recently, President Trump approved a $13 billion relief package for Puerto Rico. The sudden move has been seen as political in an effort to get support from Puerto Ricans who fled the island for Florida because of the failed response in 2017. The president denies it saying he had been working on the package for “a long time.”

The endorsement has a very pointed purpose.

Puerto Ricans on the island, while American citizens, are not allowed to vote in the presidential election. However, the Puerto Ricans who left the island following a series of natural disaster are allowed if they are on the mainland.

Florida is one state that a lot of Puerto Ricans have landed and is a key state for either party to win the election. Political pundits have pointed to the Trump administration suddenly advancing things like the relief package as a way to secure the Puerto Rican vote.

Puerto Ricans are telling voters to listen to Puerto Ricans, not the governor of Puerto Rico.

Puerto Ricans are not fans of President Trump. The Hurricane Maria response alone sank the president’s approval ratings with Puerto Ricans. In a recent poll, 52 percent of people in Puerto Rico rated President Trump’s response to Hurricane Maria as poor. Meanwhile, 15 percent of Puerto Ricans said his response was “excellent,” “very good,” or “good.”

READ: Political Chaos Returns To Puerto Rico As The Unelected Governor Faces Investigations And Calls For Her Resignation

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