Things That Matter

Puerto Rico Is Planning To Vote On U.S. Statehood Once Again And Here’s Why So Many Are Against The Idea

Puerto Rican’s are no stranger to referendums. Since 1967, they’ve had five chances to make their opinions known on U.S. statehood and each and every time, their voice hasn’t been listened to. Congress has failed to take up the issue after each referendum and local leaders are often guilty of using the referendum simply to drudge up support for their candidates.

But this upcoming referendum is different in that it comes at a crossroads for Puerto Rican politics. The island has been plagued by natural disasters, political scandals, and unprecedented hate crimes. Even Bad Bunny is letting his thoughts out on the referendum and many others have lots to say on the issue.

For the first time in the island’s history, the referendum will ask a single question: Should Puerto Rico be immediately admitted as a U.S. state?

On Saturday, Puerto Rico’s pro-statehood Republican governor, Wanda Vázquez, announced yet another vote on the question (the sixth since 1967 and the third since 2012). It’s a move that comes amid growing frustration with the island’s territorial government and its relationship with the mainland.

However, it’s a question that also outraged the island’s independence supporters and members of the main opposition Popular Democratic Party – which supports the status quo.

But it’s a gamble that members of the governor’s pro-statehood party are confident will pay off given that Puerto Rico has struggled to obtain federal funds for hurricanes Irma and Maria, a string of recent strong earthquakes and the coronavirus pandemic amid growing complaints that the island does not receive fair and equal treatment.

“Our people will have the opportunity once and for all to define our future,” Vázquez said. “It’s never too late to be treated as equals.”

The upcoming referendum is just the recent in a long line of previously failed ones.

In the past, voters have been asked more than one question and presented with various options, including independence or continuing with the current territorial status – but none of them have ever been as direct as the upcoming one scheduled for the November 3 general election.

However, many on the island see the referendum as little more than a political move by the governor’s New Progressive Party to get voters out on Nov 3 – to boost her party’s candidates.

The New Progressive Party has been rattled with scandal after scandal and many are ready for change.

The past few years have not been good for the party – or the island for that matter. A string of devastating hurricanes, a severe debt crisis, ongoing corruption scandals that even forced a pro-statehood governor to resign, earthquakes, and now a global pandemic – have all led to challenging times in Puerto Rico. To some observers, the idea seems to be: Let’s dangle the illusion of a yes or no statehood referendum (nonbinding) that is already dead on arrival?

Many also feel that Gov. Vasquez is not truly authorized to make such a decision since she was never actually elected to the office. Instead, she became governor after Ricardo Rosselló was forced to resign following massive protests.

Meanwhile, the Republican government on the island doesn’t even have the support of the Republican-led federal government. The Trump administration’s blunt response was basically, “The first priority for all Puerto Rico leaders should be getting their financial house in order.”

This coming November, there will be plenty of incentive to vote “no” and punish the Vázquez administration. Even prominent figures such as Bad Bunny are jumping into the fray against her leadership.

What would statehood mean for Puerto Rico?

Statehood would award Puerto Rico two senators and five representatives, but it’s unlikely a Republican-controlled Congress would acknowledge the referendum because Puerto Rico tends to favor Democrats.

Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens but cannot vote in U.S. presidential elections. And while the island is exempt from the U.S. federal income tax, it still pays Social Security and Medicare and local taxes and receives less federal funding than U.S. states. Many believe the island’s territorial status has contributed to its struggle to recover from the hurricanes and earthquakes, as well as worsened its economic crisis, largely caused by decades of heavy borrowing and the elimination of federal tax incentives.

Latinas Are Opening Up On Instagram About Why They Didn’t Report Their Sexual Assault And The Stories Are Heartbreaking

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Latinas Are Opening Up On Instagram About Why They Didn’t Report Their Sexual Assault And The Stories Are Heartbreaking

Drew Angerer / Getty

TRIGGER WARNING for victims of assault.

Recently we came across six stories by women who opened up about why they didn’t report their sexual assault via the account @whyididntreport. Heartbreaking, tragic, and also empowering each of these stories were a reminder that not only do we need to believe women but also support them.

As a response to the posts, we asked Latinas what experiences they had with keeping quiet about their assaults.

See their stories below.

Because it was a family member

@whyididntreport / Instagram

“My mom did not believe me because it was her husband … we would always fight and he would put her against me … that’s why I always say my children will always come first … then anyone … even before me and my own needs.” – soley_geez

Because of the statute of limitations

@whyididntreport / Instagram

“I did report. The cop taking notes told me they couldn’t file the report because of the statue of limitation being 10 years. I was reporting 13 years after I was raped. I was 3 years old when it happened. I was 16 when I reported.” – jedi_master_evila

Because she’d been labeled dramatic

@whyididntreport / Instagram

“He was my ex boyfriends cousin and I was intoxicated after a night of partying with a group of friends. I said no over and over again. I never came forward because I was already labeled/seen as “dramatic” by my ex and his friends and figured they wouldn’t believe me.” – love.jes

Because she was punished by her parents

@whyididntreport / Instagram

“I was 12. He was 18. My parents found a note he wrote to me. They spoke harshly with him but never pressed charges and punished me for lying.” 0valicorn_rainbow_pants

Because it was someone she thought loved her

@whyididntreport / Instagram

“I had a boyfriend rape me after I confronted him about lying and cheating. He used it as a way to punish me. And I stayed with him a year after the fact. I’m still processing feelings almost 20 years later. I’ve gone through self-destructive behaviors and tried to push others away. I’m forever grateful my husband showed me I am worthy of a beautiful life even after trauma. To all my fellow trauma survivors…we are worthy of good things.” – thebitchyhippie559

She thought she deserved it

@whyididntreport / Instagram

“He was my “step” grandfather. He molested me from ages 5-10, I was having some rebellious teen years and my parents were trying to find out why. I told them, my dad didn’t talk to me for a few days and after that everyone pretended that nothing happened and the rest of my family never found out. I held on to this secret until I told my parents at about 16 or 17 I was always so embarrassed and thought I deserved it.” – klemus09

She didn’t want to ruin HIS life

“It was my boss. At 15 I felt so bad, bc the wife was the only other person working with us and I was more worried about what this could do to their marriage. I thought I healed but typing this was hard.” –dolores.arts

If you or someone you know needs to report sexual assault, please contact the National Sexual Assault Helpline 800.656.4673 or speak with someone you trust.⁠⠀

Latinas Are Forcing Themselves To Examine How They Are Showing Up For The Black Community

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Latinas Are Forcing Themselves To Examine How They Are Showing Up For The Black Community

Eze Amos / Getty

Months have passed since the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd but members of the Black community continue to fight against police brutality. While news reports of protests might have slowed down, it’s important to know that showing up for Black people has so much power.

Recently, we asked Latinas “How are we showing up for our Black brothers and sisters?” and the answers were pretty humbling.

Recognize the relative privileges we have

“This week has been so, so heavy, but we need to ask ourselves how we are showing up for the Black community outside of the weeks when headlines are grim and cities are on fire. How are we showing up for Black people in our everyday lives? 365 days a year? I am speaking specifically to my community here: [Non-Black] Latinxs, we have so far to go when it comes to protecting the dignity of our own people, I know. I know our people are also hurting. But we HAVE to recognize the relative privileges we have and the ways in which the Black community’s freedom is directly tied to our own. We all deserve dignity. We all deserve the ability to move through the world without fearing for our lives. Some of us haven’t ever had to worry about that—so what are we doing to help those who do worry for their safety and the safety of loved ones every single day? Please pay attention. Please speak out and hold the people in your life accountable. We are ALL responsible. We all need to be doing more—no matter our race or ethnicity. Please, let’s take care of each other.” – @ludileiva

Show up to protests

“Showing up to local peaceful protests and talking to my family and friends about how we need to stand together. It is my hope our black brothers and sisters will stand with us when we have to face our government on DACA and caged children.” – lil_yo11

Donate and give

“Definitely by donating, signing petitions, educating others on issues like this that affect the black community, posting about it, and speaking out when it happens. Our voices and actions definitely need to be heard during this time.”- belleza_xoxo

Continue to fight

“Many of us ARE. And we need to do even MORE. This hurts me because although there is colorism out there, there are also respectful and supporting people who want to do more and more. I hope more people saw that too. Anyways, my family and I will continue fighting strong for this movement. Because BLACK LIVES MATTER. THEY SURELY DO.” – mid.nicole

Hold others accountable

“By holding people accountable. By talking about privilege even if it makes people uncomfortable! Becoming part of the conversation because if you don’t and look the other way you are part of the problem. Make people uncomfortable! Make people realize that our system needs to be redone so justice can be served for our fallen brothers. Being black, being of color shouldn’t be a death sentence.” – koayafilm

Connect with others

“We are each other’s hope 🙏🏽 sharing on your story is great, but never forget the power of human connection. talk to people, have these conversations & hear the pain, empathy & hope in our voices.”- raquelmariaquintana

Educate ourselves and our families

“We show solidarity! There’s still so much racism within our own Latino community over darker skin color. I know because my abuela was Afro Latina.Things need to change. We need to educate our own families about racism. We need to sign petitions, donating, having conversations. I see many people quiet about what’s going on.” – angieusc7

Keep certain words out of your mouth

“Well we could start by abolishing the expressions “negro” y “negra” as a form of endearment to call for someone of dark complexion. I know some will say it’s a form of endearment, but it just degrades the person called upon by only identifying them by their skin colour. You are calling them by their complexion and therefore reducing a whole persons existence and achievements by the colour of their skin.” –christian.aaby

Hold your family accountable

“We have to stand up for each other especially during these times. I’m confronting my own family members who are getting away from the truth. We have to stand up for what we believe not speak negatively about what the reactions are.” – jenmarasc

Create posters for protests

“Creating posters to take to my local police department this Sunday to protest. Signed petition, called the DA, sent cards to the mayor and DA in support of their efforts and demanding criminalization!!! We need to speak louder. Getting involved in my community to provide breath work and yoga to the black community I live in!!” – mexicanameg