Things That Matter

Puerto Rico’s Governor Endorses President Trump’s Reelection

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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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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Puerto Rico Lost Its Giant Telescope But Now It Hopes To Build A Giant Space Port

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Puerto Rico Lost Its Giant Telescope But Now It Hopes To Build A Giant Space Port

Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Puerto Rico’s famed Arecibo telescope collapsed in December after years of neglect and damage from earthquakes and hurricanes. But the island is looking to the future with the hope that the U.S. territory could become a major hub for space exploration as a potential space port.

Puerto Rico seeks to be a hub for international space travel.

Puerto Rico may best be known for its tourist packed beaches and its bankrupt finances, but as the island continues to recover from the economic disasters in the wake of hurricanes and earthquakes, it’s looking to the future.

And to many officials on the island, the future is in space exploration. The Caribbean island has put out a request for information, or RFI, seeking companies interested in turning a sleepy airport at the base of the El Yunque National Rainforest into a space port.

The island’s location between North and South America and close to the Equator gives it “viable trajectories to a large range of desirable low earth orbit launch inclinations,” Puerto Rico’s Port Authority said in a notice posted Friday.

The potential base could be a major boost to the Puerto Rican economy.

The site is currently a small airport that already houses an 11,000 feet runway and offers flights to various points in the territory. But with the existing infrastructure, officials state it could easily be converted into a space port.

If the site does generate interest, it would be a major boost to Puerto Rico’s small but vibrant aerospace sector. Honeywell Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney and Collins Aerospace all have manufacturing plants on the island.

Puerto Rico would also join a growing number of U.S. states and jurisdictions that are vying for pieces of the commercial launch business, which is expected to become a trillion-dollar market over the next decade.

The executive director of the Puerto Rico Ports Authority (APPR), Joel A. Pizá Batiz, believes that “The aerospace industry is one of the economic sectors that is experiencing the most rapid growth. In fact, in the midst of the pandemic it was one of the few sectors that did not receive much impact,” he explained.

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