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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


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Anti-Mask Tourists Are Traveling To Puerto Rico And The Island’s Residents Have Had Enough

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Anti-Mask Tourists Are Traveling To Puerto Rico And The Island’s Residents Have Had Enough

Ricardo Arduengo / Getty Images

Despite the pandemic that began impacting travel as far back as February, tourists never stopped coming to Puerto Rico. The island’s government has never restricted travel to/from the island and that has come at the cost of local health care systems and the safety and health of local residents.

This means that delusional anti-maskers from the mainland have been able to visit the island, disregard local rules regarding social distancing and face coverings, and put locals at risk. Now, as the island grapples with an explosion of Covid-19 cases, many locals are demanding the island shut down to nonessential travel.

Protesters in Puerto Rico are calling for an end to irresponsible tourism from the mainland.

In Puerto Rico, protesters have been calling for San Juan’s International Airport to shut down all nonessential travel, as tourists continue to vacation on the island despite rising Covid-19 cases and are often seen not wearing masks or practicing social distancing.

Ricardo Santos, who organized a protest and is a member of the Socialist Workers Movement, told Democracy Now: “We’re not backing down. We’re going to continue this caravan and this struggle, because this is a life-or-death situation, and this governor has not been addressing this issue. So, as we’ve done in the past, the people are going to take matters into their own hands.”

The move comes as many locals say that tourists come to the island with certain attitudes and disrespect local rules.

Whether it’s because they believe in silly conspiracy theories or complain that it’s ‘too hot’ to wear a mask, tourists without masks have arrived in droves to the island – where many locals see them as an extension of a long history of brutal colonialism. Many tourists to the island have little to no regard for the health or well-being of those who call the island home and they’re even less conscious of the fact that the island’s health care system is still in shambles since Hurricane Maria.

Although face masks are technically required in all public areas, few tourists seem to follow the guidelines. In fact, a fine of up to $5,000 can be slapped on anyone who isn’t wearing a covering on their mouth and nose. Not only are many tourists ignoring the rule, it’s often leading to violent confrontations.

A few weeks ago, a group of women visiting San Juan’s biggest mall allegedly retaliated against a Zara employee’s request that they wear masks by damaging at least $2,000 in merchandise.

Later in July, a man – a resident of the island but from the mainland – spat in the face of a grocery store worker who asked him to put on a mask.  In a video circulating online, the man said a security guard retaliated by hitting him with a golf club. The following day, a woman was reportedly physically struck after refusing to wear a mask in La Perla, the historic neighborhood that runs alongside Old San Juan, which has become a tourist destination since the 2017 video for Justin Bieber’s remix of Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s runaway hit “Despacito” was filmed there.

Many local workers who serve the tourist economy said that visitors are irritated by the mandatory touchless temperature scan and hand sanitation policy. 

“They have attitudes when they get here,” one worker told the Daily Beast. “One said she was going to ‘die of retardation’ for taking her temperature. Another complained about the sanitizer: They said, ‘Ew, what is that?’” 

Tourism is big business for Puerto Rico – but many say now is not the time.

Credit: Jose Jimenez / Getty Images

Tourism in Puerto Rico is a $1.8 billion industry annually, and though the island never closed its borders, officials had announced a formal “reopening” date of July 15, when visitors were welcome to return. But thanks to rising cases of Covid-19, that ‘reopening’ date has since been pushed back a month to August 15.

To help facilitate the reopening, a new order will require all visitors show a negative Covid-19 test at the airport in order to enter the island, or be tested voluntarily at the airport by a National Guard team. The curfew, which was previously set to end on June 22, is still in place from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. every night. 

But for residents, none of this makes sense. Police have threatened Puerto Ricans with exorbitant fines and even arrest for being out past curfew. Alleyways that would usually be teeming with people dancing to live salsa were barren. Yet locals continue to see tourists step out the door of their Airbnb, hand in hand, no mask, to take in a sunset or grab something to eat. Locals feel like they’re on lockdown while visitors are on a worry free vacation.

Like many places across the U.S., Puerto Rico has been hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Credit: Ricardo Arduengo / Getty Images

As of July 29, the island has seen more than 16,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 211 people have died of the virus. These numbers have been rising in recent weeks as

Puerto Rico was initially praised for being one of the first U.S. jurisdictions to put drastic measures in place, such as implementing an islandwide curfew and banning cruise ships, as well as closing schools and all nonessential businesses, to avoid overwhelming the island’s fragile health care system in March.

But a recent surge in COVID-19 cases has coincided with Puerto Rico’s efforts to reopen nonessential businesses and tourist attractions. Over the past week, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases jumped by more than 1,000, while the number of probable cases increased by almost 1,300.

Puerto Rican Activists Are Leading The Fight For The Removal Of Colonial Monuments On The Island

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Puerto Rican Activists Are Leading The Fight For The Removal Of Colonial Monuments On The Island

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As activists across the United States continue to rally behind the removal of Confederate statues and symbols of racism, many are doing their part to ensure monuments honoring those who led the genocide of Indigenous people are being toppled as well. In Puerto Rico, a similar call for the removal of such monuments are highlighting the current population’s fight to dethrone tributes to colonization.

In Puerto Rico (and other regions of the United States affected by Spanish colonialism) protests are pushing for the removal of colonial figures.

Statues, public plazas, and roads paying homage to colonizers like Christopher Columbus and Juan Ponce de León can be seen all over Puerto Rico and areas of Florida. Historically both figures have been touted for being “explorers” but their cruel treatment of Puerto Rico’s indigenous Taíno people has only recently being examined. Historical evidence shows that, like other colonizers of the Americas, both men contributed to the near extermination of indigenous populations including Tainos. Columbus in particular is noted for having led a brutal regime that crushed and enslaved these populations.

Activists are speaking out about the statutes and monuments attributed to Columbus and Ponce De Léon.

“It is an act of violence to even have the statues in our homelands,” Elena Ortiz, chair of the Santa Fe Freedom Council of The Red Nation, explained in an interview with USA Today. “It’s not just the statue, but it’s what it represented: the celebration of our genocide.”

“[The conquistadors] brought with them not only these weapons of mass destruction but also the imposition of the Catholic Church and the imposition of a patriarchal government on peaceful matrilineal societies,” Ortiz went onto explain. “Those colonially imposed systems exist to this day, and have impacted generations.”

Across Puerto Rico statues of these historical figures have been toppled in protests responding to the current widespread call to end the support of police brutality and the oppression of minorities.

As USA Today points out, similar actions are taking place in Los Angeles and San Francisco where statues of Junípero Serra have recently been removed or destroyed by protesters. “Without liberation for all, there’s no liberation for any of us,” Ortiz concluded. “Every movement from Black Lives Matter, to defund the police, to tearing down these statues shows a deep, deep dissatisfaction with the state of the world right now.”