Things That Matter

Puerto Ricans Who Voted On Sunday Overwhelmingly Voted For U.S. Statehood The Other 77 Percent Of Voters Stayed Home

What the Puerto Rico Statehood Vote Means

Puerto Rico voted to become the 51st state but here's why it probably won't happen.

Posted by AJ+ on Monday, June 12, 2017

Feelings were mixed and have been on the island about the issue of statehood.

Many are hoping that becoming the 51st state will help turn around the island’s 45% poverty rate and $70 billion debt. Others think the vote was a waste, because the last vote in 2012 ended up with congress not making a determination on the island’s status. Even if the current plebiscite is indeed seen as legitimate, it would still be up to congress to decide whether or not to do anything about it.

The official word on what President Trump and his administration thinks about the vote was given by Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

Credit: The White House / Youtube

“This matter is something that’s going to be determined now that the people have spoken in Puerto Rico this is something that congress has to address, so the process will have to work it’s way out through congress.”

Texas congressmen Joaquin Castro made his feelings on the matter very clear.

Several congressmen made similar statements on social media.

Marco Rubio didn’t have an opinion one way or the other, but did encourage people on the island to go out and vote on the day of.

He took a bit of a hands-off approach.

However, Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez, vehemently opposed the vote.

The congressman called the whole plebiscite a farce and released a statement on his website addressing his thoughts. As a son of Puerto Rican migrants himself, he had very strong opinions about the vote. On his website his press release read:

“The supporters of statehood are selling a fantasy that a Latino, Caribbean nation will be admitted as a state during the era of Donald Trump; That states, many of which supported Trump, will accept a Spanish-speaking state that will receive just as many Senators and maybe even more House seats than they currently have; And all of this for an Island the U.S. has made deeply in debt with a sputtering economic engine that leaves Puerto Rico significantly poorer and more dependent than even our poorest states.  I do not point out Puerto Rico’s problems to denigrate my fellow Puerto Ricans, simply to point out the reality that what is being peddled by the supporters of statehood is a fantasy.

Let’s focus on job creation that showcases the talent and creativity of the Puerto Rican people.  That is the path forward towards a brighter economic future, which is the fundamental bedrock on which Puerto Rico survives and thrives and grows, regardless of its political status.

Those who advocate statehood in Puerto Rico will claim that this Sunday’s vote is a referendum on statehood.  That is a fiction, because it’s clear that only one party will participate in the one-sided election and because the U.S. Government has not made any sort of commitment to honor this vote.  So, regardless of how carefully the Statehooders dress it up to look like a legitimate democratic process, the June 11 plebiscite is a farce.”

It seems as if, just like before, folks are undecided left and right as to what to do about this vote. One thing is for certain, statehood won’t happen overnight and Puerto Rico needs help now.


[H/T] Associated Press

READ: The Final Vote To Determine Puerto Rico’s Future Is Coming And Trump’s Administration Wants To Sabotage It


Recommend this story to a friend by clicking on the share button below.

Hacker Attempts To Steal $4 Million From Puerto Rican Government In Phishing Scam

Things That Matter

Hacker Attempts To Steal $4 Million From Puerto Rican Government In Phishing Scam

John Piekos / Flickr

Hackers attempted to steal $4 million from the Puerto Rican government using a common phishing scam. The scams referred to as business email compromises, target public and private entities every year on the U.S. mainland. Here’s what we know so far.

A hacker attempted to steal millions of dollars from the Puerto Rican government.

Credit: @DavidBegnaud / Twitter

According to reports, hackers were able to infiltrate various agencies in the Puerto Rican government through phishing emails. The hackers attempted to access $4 million dollars by targeting Puerto Rico’s Industrial Development Company and the Tourism Company.

The Industrial Development Company sent around $2.6 million while the Tourism Company wired over $1.5 million. According to the AP, the agencies received emails from a fraudulent employee claiming there was a change of bank accounts.

Federal officials say they were about to freeze the money to prevent loss to Puerto Rico.

David Begnaud of CBS News took to Twitter to update people on the latest developments. According to Begnaud’s conversation with federal authorities, the hackers had not received the money from Puerto Rico and they were able to freeze it. They are working to send the money back to Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico is not the only victim in a phishing crime. During the same time as the hacking of Puerto Rico, a school district in Manor, Texas lost $2.3 million and another $800,000 were stolen from officials in Griffin, Georgia. More than 23,000 of these scams stole $1.7 billion from businesses and agencies in the U.S. mainland last year. The FBI was able to recover around $300 million.

The news is surprising people on social media.

Credit: @MilagsCon / Twitter

Corruption in Puerto Rico’s government has been a topic of discussion since Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Puerto Rico was recently devastated by a series of earthquakes while still recovering from the 2017 hurricane that devastated the island. Missing relief funds and misplaced supplies have angered Puerto Ricans in recent months as it comes to light.

This latest financial and security shortcoming of Puerto Rico’s government is not helping its reputation.

Credit: @J_Fort47 / Twitter

Puerto Ricans have been showing their displeasure with the elected officials on the island for years. Recently, Puerto Ricans protested and marched until Ricardo Rosselló resigned from his office. The former governor was caught in a group chat scandal in which he made derogatory comments about the LGBTQ+ community and women. There were also allegations of corruption and misuse of funds within his admi9nistration that led to a series of investigations.

READ: The Puerto Rico Department of Justice Is Seeking An Independent Investigation Into Ricardo Rosselló

A Warehouse Full Of Forgotten Supplies From 2017 Was Just Found In Puerto Rico After More Than 1000 Earthquakes Hit The Island

Things That Matter

A Warehouse Full Of Forgotten Supplies From 2017 Was Just Found In Puerto Rico After More Than 1000 Earthquakes Hit The Island

@IGD_News / Twitter

Over the past two and a half weeks, Puerto Rico has experienced more than 1000 earthquakes. This number may seem unbelievable, but it’s true: after a 6.7 magnitude earthquake hit the island on January 7—the largest earthquake to hit Puerto Rico in more than a century—aftershocks have continued to jolt the island, leaving hundreds of people homeless, lacking supplies and electricity. Among the aftershocks was January 11’s 5.9 magnitude quake, which caused even further devastation, particularly to the southern part of the island. So far, the earthquakes have cost an estimated $200 million in damages, including the destruction of more than 800 homes.

But the damage hasn’t only been structural—several people are experiencing extreme anxiety as tremors continue to strike the island.

Credit: Facebook / ASSMCA Online

Officials from ASSMCA, Puerto Rico’s  Office of Mental Health Services and Addiction Prevention, have been making their rounds at outdoor shelters where displaced individuals and families have taken refuge, offering mental health support to those most affected by the quakes.

“These aftershocks are triggers for people,” Abdiel Dumeng, an ASSMCA employee, said in Spanish in an interview.”But I have to admit that we’ve seen a decrease in these kinds of crises, because we’ve been working together for a while, teaching people how to stay calm.”

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), aftershocks will continue to decrease in frequency over the next month and will be exponentially “lower in magnitude”. But in the meantime, Puerto Rico’s Office of Emergency Management estimates that more than 8,000 people are staying in these outdoor shelters—fewer than half are in government-run shelters, while the rest are taking refuge in either informal spaces or shelters run by non-government organizations.

What exactly constitutes an “informal” shelter? Well, some folks have simply taken their beds outside, staying close to home while avoiding the potential dangers of being indoors. Others are crashing with relatives in towns that have experienced less damage than other areas.

Credit: StarTribune

In response to the 5.9 earthquake on January 11, Governor Wanda Vázquez said that she had declared a major state emergency following an initial assessment of the damages incurred. Vázquez also announced the immediate disbursement of $2 million for the towns of Guánica, Utuado, Guayanilla, Peñuelas, Ponce and Yauco, which experienced the most damage due to their proximity to the earthquakes’ epicenter. This $2 million was defined as a way to meet the towns’ most urgent needs—but now, ten days later, la gente está harta, because these needs still haven’t been met.

Just a few days ago, Vázquez fired two high-ranking officials in her administration: Housing Secretary Fernando Gil and Department of Family Secretary Glorimar Andújar. She also fired former Emergency Management Director Carlos Acevedo. The Governor’s reason for the dismissals was an alleged lack of information regarding aid collection and distribution centers.

This lack of information had to do with the discovery of a warehouse in Ponce that was filled with seemingly forgotten disaster supplies. But these supplies were not sent in response to the current crisis—they date back to when Hurricane Maria (a Category 4 storm) hit the island in September 2017.

Credit: Carlos Giusti / Associated Press

And people are understandably angry. On January 20, scores of demonstrators gathered in front of the Governor’s mansion in San Juan to demand her resignation. While the Governor seems to have tried addressing the issue with the dismissals mentioned above, several people are accusing her of not taking accountability for this appalling error, urging her to step down. And with demonstrators vowing to stay in the streets until Vázquez steps down, the current situation looks a lot like last summer’s demonstrations, which ultimately caused Governor Ricardo Rosselló to resign.

When asked by NBC News what the “human impact” of this mistake is, Rafael Gonzalez—President of PROFESA, a Puerto Rican Professional Association that delivered aid during the aftermath of Hurricane Maria—said, “We saw it on [sic] Maria. We saw what happens when you don’t deliver the supplies that people need. People die.”

Indeed, more than 3,000 people died as a result of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria (not to mention highly insufficient disaster response on the part of the United States government). At this point, the recent series of earthquakes has resulted in one death and nine injuries. In an attempt to keep that number from rising, Jennifer Gonzales, Puerto Rico’s Commissioner to Congress, joined forces with five other members of Congress to send a letter to Donald Trump, asking him to sign a major disaster declaration that would bring federal funding to the recovery effort.

On January 16, Donald Trump responded by designating six hard-hit towns in the southern part of the island as major disaster areas. Hopefully this will result in an appropriate disaster response—one that will not negligently result in more forgotten aid.