One of President Trump’s central campaign promises was to build a new, reinforced wall along the southern border between the U.S. and Mexico. One year after the presidential election, there are border wall prototypes erected in San Diego. The mini walls were submitted and constructed by companies hoping to win the contract with the U.S. government to construct the full or sections of the border wall. Ron Vitiello, acting deputy commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), praised the prototypes during a press conference as being essential to the overall goal of Border Patrol stating.
“Border security relies on a combination of border infrastructure, technology, and personnel,” he said during the press conference.
There are eight border wall prototypes standing along the U.S./Mexico border in San Diego. They are the first physical indicators of President Trump’s campaign promise to build a border wall along the southern border.
President Trump is one step closer to building his border wall. Today, contractors unveiled their border wall prototypes near San Diego. pic.twitter.com/ETjBpiiIHP
According to Vitiello, the prototypes are 30 feet high and about 18 feet wide. Contractors were given $300,000 to $500,000 to complete their prototypes.
“Border walls have proven to be to be an extremely effective part of our multi-pronged security strategy to prevent the illegal flow of people and drugs over many years,” he said at the press conference. “Specifically, walls are part of a border enforcement zone which includes roads, lights and surveillance technology.”
The choice to build the prototypes in San Diego was not random.
According to Vitiello’s speech, San Diego is the most active area for border crossings. He told the press that in 2016, Border Patrol detained 31,000 people crossing the border, 9,200 pounds of marijuana and more than 1,300 pounds of cocaine.
Immigration activists are concerned about the wall and its potential to create a more dangerous journey for those heading north.
Border Angels is a nonprofit, volunteer-based organization that works for immigrant and human rights. Founder Enrique Morones says the border wall that is currently in place has led to the deaths of 11,000 people since 1994. However, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol places the number of deaths between 1998 and 2016 at 6,915.
Now that the walls are built, CBP will start testing the structures.
Vitiello said no testing will occur for 30 days as they wait for concrete to set. Testing will take between 30 and 60 days. Vitiello wasn’t specific about how the walls will be tested and further requests for clarification from CBP went unanswered. According to the CBP website, the walls will be tested to make sure they cannot be breached, climbed or dug under while remaining safe for Border Patrol and denying unchecked access across the border.
Stay tuned as mitú continues to cover this story as it develops.
Cardi B refuses to be boxed into any archetype. The Afro-Dominican rapper has used her platform in the past to talk about the injustices of America’s healthcare system. This Monday, she effectively put her weight behind Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders by telling her 6.7 million Twitter followers that she feels “really sad” about “how we let him down in 2016.”
Claro, Cardi B’s endorsement of the progressive Democratic socialist candidate has ignited a firestorm of responses from fans and haters alike.
In a single tweet, Cardi acknowledged the authenticity of Bernie’s platform–which has remained consistent throughout decades of politics.
Often, voters feel isolated from politics because political speech is too pedantic to resonate with. Cardi was speaking from the heart of America when she said that Bernie’s issues are not a “front” for a campaign to win. She believes Bernie’s passion to creating a safer America for all is genuine.
Bernie Sanders narrowly lost the Democratic primary to Hillary Clinton in 2016.
It’s no secret that, after Trump won, the Democratic party experienced a deep disillusionment over party ideals. Bernie brought a much more progressive stance than establishment Democrats, advocating for free healthcare as an American right, free college tuition and equality for all. The Senator thanked her in a tweet that read, “Thank you @iamcardib! Our fight for justice is far from over and we are not giving up.”
The conversation continued after a critic pointed out that Cardi has once complained about high taxes.
The Twitter user seemed to think that Cardi’s disdain for high taxes would be in direct conflict with Bernie Sanders’s outspoken platform to raise taxes on the rich to effectively redistribute to the masses in the form of free healthcare and education. He was wrong.
His didn’t get away with going up against Cardi and Bernie without a good dog walk from Latinas in charge.
It’s the name of the game–perception is a reality in politics. The perks of being a civilian are being able to say things like “que chinguen a su madre” to anyone who twists your words.
Cardi clapped back by saying that she’s here for high taxes, but only if she can see her dollar effect positive change.
With a large chunk of our taxes going to the military, subsidizing the dying dairy and meat industries, and a clear lack of funds directed towards the humanitarian crisis on the border, Cardi wants someone in power who will improve the quality of life for as many Americans as possible. She wants to see what she’s paying for.
Of course, the sexism and racism came out to play in the comment threads.
This user claimed that “hood rats” are implicitly lacking the “mentality” to have political opinions. “I wish some people would stay in their lane,” is tantamount to someone like Trump telling The Squad to “go back” to “where they came from.” It implies that you’re born into the limits on your own agency, and it’s toxic thinking.
The Bardi Gang came through to defend Cardi’s right to use her political voice.
Cardi B is an Afro-Latina woman who worked her way to fame by stripping at the club across from her high school. Her work has invited criticism from conservative pundits, claiming her body and sex-positive messaging is anti-feminist. As a black woman taking up space in the world, everything she does is overanalyzed.
They also offered her support amidst all the “hate.”
Other politically invested folks came through with comments like “Girl read about ELIZABETH WARREN,” and “Kamala2020 get down read up on her.” Sprinkled throughout were messages of support for Bernie, happy that 6.7 million followers could #FeelTheBern thanks to Cardi.
Cardi might be a celebrity, but she’s also a constituent who wants to see her taxes put an end to bankruptcy by medical and student loan debt.
With 2020 around the corner, campaign season is in full swing again. As always, we are mitú and we want everyone to educate themselves about every candidate and get out the vote!
Over the last week, Puerto Rico has been hit with multiple political scandals that have motivated thousands of people on the island and in the diaspora to protest. Puerto Ricans are calling for the resignation of its governor, its fiscal control board and, for a growing sum, its colonial ties to the United States. A lot of the unrest stems from recent private messages released that showed the governor using offensive language against women, the LGBTQ+ community, and Hurricane Maria Victims.
Puerto Rico is being rocked with a growing political scandal.
On Wednesday, the FBI arrested former Education Secretary Julia Keleher, former Puerto Rico Health Insurance Administration head Angela Avila-Marrero, businessmen Fernando Scherrer-Caillet and Alberto Velazquez-Piñol, and education contractors Glenda E. Ponce-Mendoza and Mayra Ponce-Mendoza, who are sisters, on 32 counts of fraud and related charges.
The streets were filled with people demanding that the governor resign facing corruptions and damning messages leaked to the public.
The corruption scheme, which ushered federal money to unqualified, politically connected contractors, involves $15.5 million in federal funding between 2017 and 2019. Of that, 13 million was spent by the Department of Education during Keleher’s time as secretary. During her two-year term, Keleher, an Italian-American educational leader from Philadelphia, was criticized by the people of Puerto Rico for closing down hundreds of schools and implementing the island’s first charter school. The additional $2.5 million was spent by the insurance administration when Avila was the director.
The governor was caught in a chat using grotesque homophobic and sexist language.
Just days later, on Saturday, the island experienced another political blow: Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism published 889 pages of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s private Telegram chat. The secret messages, between him and several of his aides, included profanity-laced, and at times misogynistic, homophobic and violent, comments and memes about several high-profile women politicians, celebrities, the press and even the victims of Hurricane María.
Puerto Rico-born former New York city council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is one person the governor attacked.
“All of my solidarity with my friend @CarmenYulinCruz for the unacceptable attacks by @ricardorossello,” Mark-Viverito tweeted. “The women are not ‘b*tches’ nor ‘sons of b*tches,’ we are fighting, courageous, and dignified human beings who contribute to society. Stop the machismo!”
In one chat, Rosselló calls Mark-Viverito a “puta” for criticizing DNC Chair Tom Perez, who was siding with statehood Democrats like Rosselló, who is the leader of the Statehood party in Puerto Rico. In another, the governor’s former chief financial officer Christian Sobrino said of San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who is running for Puerto Rico governor in the 2020 elections, that he was “dying to shoot her up.” Rosselló replied: “You’d be doing me a big favor.”
Mark-Viverito, who now heads the Latino Victory Project, released a statement in response to the governor’s violent sexism.
“The governor’s machismo was exposed,” she said in Spanish. “When a male chauvinist wants to belittle a woman, he uses words like “whore” to belittle, dehumanize and degrade her. A person who uses that language against a woman, whether a public figure or not, should not govern Puerto Rico.”
The conversations also included transphobic remarks about transgender and gender nonconforming protestors and homophobic comments about Ricky Martin.
“It is shameful and unacceptable and it isn’t resolved with an apology,” Martin tweeted. “This is not the government we need. This is not the Puerto Rico that our grandparents and parents built and even less [the Puerto Rico] we want to leave to our children.”
One associate wrote, “Nothing says patriarchal oppression like Ricky Martin. He is such a male chauvinist that he f–ks men because women don’t measure up. Pure patriarchy.”
Probably the most stomach-churning exchange in the leaked chat was Sobrino joking about the backlog of dead bodies after the devastating 2017 storm.
“Now that we are on the subject, don’t we have some cadavers to feed our crows? Clearly, they need attention,” he wrote, likely referencing journalists and the administration’s critics, who long questioned Rosselló’s assertion that the hurricane claimed only 64 lives. A Harvard study later put the death toll at 4,645.
The impropriety, which has been nicknamed #TelegramGate, has been likened to the Watergate scandal, which rocked President Nixon’s administration in the 1970s and ultimately led to his resignation.
“For Puerto Ricans, this has been basically our Watergate,” Caribbean scholar Yarimar Bonilla, who writes about post-Hurricane Maria recovery, told CBS News. “The government is distracted thinking about its image, worrying about how they’re being represented in the press instead of attending to matters of the recovery.”
While two members of Rosselló’s cabinet have offered their resignations, the people are similarly calling on Rosselló to step down.
For several days, thousands of protestors have taken over the streets of Old San Juan, packing the cobblestone lane in front of La Fortaleza, the governor’s mansion, demanding that he immediately give up his seat. On Monday, the mostly-peaceful action turned violent when police officers tear-gassed crowds, injuring dozens and arresting five protestors. The streets were ablaze, but the people, enlivened, stayed chanting that they were not afraid.
They’re not alone. Celebrities like Ricky Martin, Residente, Kany Garcia, Jon Z and more have taken to social media calling on the governor to resign. Meanwhile, rapper PJ Sin Suela released a heated track called PUTA, referencing Rosselló’s misogynistic comments, about political corruption on the island, and Bad Bunny announced on Instagram that he would be leaving Europe, where he is touring, to fly to Puerto Rico and march with the people on Wednesday.
Bad Bunny posted a video as a call to action for all Puerto Ricans to march and demonstrate.
Across the U.S., Puerto Ricans of the diaspora have also united, with protests in New York, Washington, DC, and Philadelphia, and more scheduled for Tuesday in Miami and Orlando, where a majority of Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricane María found refuge.
Despite the massive calls, on Tuesday morning, Rosselló, who has apologized for his “improper acts” and attended an Evangelical church where pastors prayed over him, insisted that he would not resign.
“I have not committed an illegal act and I have not committed an act of corruption,” he said during a press conference. “I committed some improper acts and I asked forgiveness for that.”
The governor also noted that the prime reason he would not resign is that he “was elected by the people” — despite many of those Puerto Ricans now begging for his removal.