Things That Matter

Joe Biden Released A New Platform Regarding Puerto Rico.

Vice President Joe Biden didn’t hold back when lambasting the Trump administration’s mishandling of Puerto Rico in an op-ed for the Orlando Sentinel. Biden called for an overhaul of the federal government’s treatment of the territory, insisting that Puerto Ricans are American citizens and should be treated as such. 

The former vice president suggested Trump unleashed “the evils of bigotry and callous inhumanity,” with his response to Hurricane Maria. He also called for increasing the minimum wage to $15, creating a federally sourced technical infrastructure for the island in much need of rebuilding, and tripling funding for Title I schools

Placing the opinion piece in a local Florida paper may demonstrate Biden’s campaign efforts to reach Latinx voters, considering the high population of Latinxs with Carribean ancestry in the state.  Following the release of his plan, 25 Puerto Rican leaders endorsed his candidacy. 

Governor Alejandro García Padilla and 24 other Puerto Rican elected officials in Florida including state Rep. Amy Mercado, D-Orlando, and state Sen. Vic Torres, D-Kissimmee endorsed Biden today, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

Biden wants to provide structure to a Hurricane Maria-wrecked Puerto Rico.

Among calling out his callousness, Biden said Trump “abandoned his responsibility” to provide aid and recovery support to the island after Hurricane Maria. 

“His behavior after Maria — lying about relief efforts, blocking aid, mocking survivors, robbing the island of the assistance it’s legally entitled to — is a stain on our nation. His actions insult the memory of the estimated nearly 3,000 souls who died during and after the storm, as well as the over one million who have struggled without power in the wreckage,” Biden wrote in the Orlando paper. 

The VP called for a federal effort to rebuild the island along with the trust of the U.S. citizens who live there. Biden praises the fortitude and mobilizations of Puerto Ricans who have continued to speak truth to power and sought to repair an island wounded by governmental neglect and natural disasters. 

If elected, Biden will create a federal working group to provide resources and technical support to the island. 

“To ensure that supporting Puerto Rico is an Administration-wide priority, the working group will consist of advisers designated by each federal agency and led by a point person who will report directly to me,” he wrote. 

Biden wants mainland companies to invest in Puerto Rico. 

A special section of the VP’s $1.3 trillion infrastructure plan along with efforts to get mainland companies to invest in Puerto Rico will fund roads, bridges, powerlines, and broadband access to the island, while providing tens of thousands of new jobs, according to Biden. A part of this plan is also investing in entrepreneurs who already live on the island. 

“I will expand programs that support island entrepreneurs and small businesses, like the State Small Business Credit Initiative, which has drawn tens of millions of dollars in new investment on the island, and programs that will further ignite economic growth like the New Markets Tax Credit program,” Biden wrote. 

Biden’s plan, like many candidates, is moderate and uses the language of fostering change without really using the necessary language of reckoning with the past. 

Does Biden support statehood in Puerto Rico? It’s unclear.

As Latino Rebels noted in his plan, there is “no specific mention of Puerto Rico’s debt crisis, the island-colony’s Fiscal Control Board or current reframing or revisiting of PROMESA, including a cancellation of debt. It also makes no mention of the Jones Act or its possible repeal. The words ‘colony’ or ‘colonialism’ aren’t in the opinion piece either. Neither are words like ‘statehood’ or ’51st state.’”

PR51st does, however, note that in 2012 Biden seemed to support statehood and encouraged Puerto Ricans to fight for statehood. 

“I have always found Puerto Rico’s current political status as something very bizarre. My word of advice to you, and all Puerto Ricans, is that you continue to fight hard until you reach your goal of equality, and we shall act,” Biden said in 2012.

PR51st says Biden “probably does” support statehood. In the Washington Post’s assessment of candidates’ stances, Biden is the only candidate labeled “unclear/no response.” The three other major frontrunners Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg are in the “let them decide” column. 

Biden ends his op-ed with a call to defeat Trump as the only path forward for any chance to save Puerto Rico in the near future at all. 

“So we must defeat Donald Trump. It’s the foundation on which every other policy, and every hope of progress across our nation, depends. It’s the single most important political act that we, together as Americans, can take — to rebuild Puerto Rico, and to rescue the character of our nation,” he wrote. 

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AOC Gets Under Ted Cruz’s Skin With Crack About His Mexican Getaway After He Accuses Her Of Pushing For ‘open borders’

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AOC Gets Under Ted Cruz’s Skin With Crack About His Mexican Getaway After He Accuses Her Of Pushing For ‘open borders’

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ted Cruz are at it again on Twitter. This time it’s about immigration policy. After recently traveling to the US-Mexican border to underline the recent rise in immigration, Cruz accused AOC of pushing for a “full open borders” policy.

And of course, AOC got him with some solid zingers.

AOC in turn hit back at Cruz for recently fleeing his home state of Texas during its power grid collapse to vacation in Cancún.

In response to Cruz’s attack, AOC suggested Mexico avoid allowing Cruz in the next time he attempts to vacation there. She also called on him to resign from office for his attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

“Ted, this is pretty rich coming from someone who fled their own home (and responsibilities) during an environmental crisis to cross the border and seek refuge in Mexico,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “Also you funded cages, expanded cages, and yet you’re complaining about cages. You have no policy, just puff.”

Ocasio-Cortez accused Republicans of hypocritically attacking the current administration’s detention of migrant children at the border after they supported President Donald Trump’s policy of separating migrant parents from their children.

Currently, Democrats like AOC are calling on Biden to impliment more liberal immigration policies.

Republicans have strongly expressed their dislike for the recent rise in migrants which has come as a result of Biden’s reversal of Trump’s most rigid border policies.

AOC is currently a co-sponsor of the Roadmap to Freedom resolution. The resolution calls on the Federal Government to develop and implement a Roadmap to Freedom “in order to overhaul the outdated immigration system in the United States that has gone without significant reform for decades, and to relieve the great human impact an unjust system bears on communities around the country.”

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Today, Puerto Rico Celebrates Emancipation Day–the Day When the Island Officially Abolished Slavery

Things That Matter

Today, Puerto Rico Celebrates Emancipation Day–the Day When the Island Officially Abolished Slavery

Photo via George W. Davis, Public Domain

Today, March 22nd marks Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud in Puerto Rico–the date that marks the emancipation of slaves in Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, enslaved peoples were emancipated in 1873–a full decade after the U.S. officially abolished slavery. But unlike the U.S. mainland, Puerto Rico celebrates today as an official holiday, where many businesses are closed.

The emancipation of Puerto Rican slaves was a very different process than the United States’. For one, the emancipation was gradual and over three years.

When the Spanish government abolished slavery in Puerto Rico 1873, enslaved men and women had to buy their freedom. The price was set by their “owners”. The way the emancipated slaves bought their freedom was through a process that was very similar to sharecropping in the post-war American south. Emancipated slaves farmed, sold goods, and worked in different trades to “buy” their freedom.

In the same Spanish edict that abolished slavery, slaves over the age of 60 were automatically freed. Enslaved children who were 5-years-old and under were also automatically freed.

Today, Black and mixed-race Puerto Ricans of Black descent make up a large part of Puerto Rico’s population.

The legacy of enslaved Black Puerto Ricans is a strong one. Unlike the United States, Puerto Rico doesn’t classify race in such black-and-white terms. Puerto Ricans are taught that everyone is a mixture of three groups of people: white Spanish colonizers, Black African slaves, and the indigenous Taíno population.

African influences on Puerto Rican culture is ubiquitous and is present in Puerto Rican music, cuisine, and even in the way that the island’s language evolved. And although experts estimate that up to 60% of Puerto Ricans have significant African ancestry, almost 76% of Puerto Ricans identified as white only in the latest census poll–a phenomenon that many sociologists have blamed on anti-blackness.

On Puerto Rico’s Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud, many people can’t help but notice that the island celebrates a day of freedom and independence when they are not really free themselves.

As the fight for Puerto Rican decolonization rages on, there is a bit of irony in the fact that Puerto Rico is one of the only American territories that officially celebrates the emancipation of slaves, when Puerto Rico is not emancipated from the United States. Yes, many Black Americans recognize Juneteenth (June 19th) as the official day to celebrate emancipation from slavery, but it is not an official government holiday.

Perhaps, Puerto Rico celebrates this historical day of freedom because they understand how important the freedom and independence is on a different level than mainland Americans do.

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