Things That Matter

Over 1 Year Ago, Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria Killed Nearly 3,000 People (Instead Of The 64 People Originally Reported)

jlo / daddyyankee / Instagram

We’re coming up on almost a year since Category 5 Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. The governor of Puerto Rico recently officially raised the death toll from 64 to 2,975. It took nearly a year for the island to get full power restored and a lot of people are far from recovered.

Just this week, some shocking news hit the airwaves.

The government of Puerto Rico has raised the death toll to almost 3,000 people.

CREDIT: @DavidBegnaud / Twitter

The number is representative of the people who died after the storm passed but still because of the storm. The entire island was out of power for months leaving many with necessary things to live. However, there is still a lot of disputes on the official death toll.

The official death toll by the federal government is 64.

CREDIT: @NYDailyNews / Twitter

CNN and the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo sued the Puerto Rican government to release the death records, and the judge forced the government’s hand.

Puerto Rico is nowhere near recovered.

CREDIT: @ajplus / Twitter

Just last week (10 months after the hurricane), power to most residents was finally restored. Highways haven’t been restored, the energy grid isn’t complete and the Puerto Rican government is requesting $139 billion in recovery funds. There is still a lot of work to do.

Meanwhile, Trump is funneling our tax money into a space military.

CREDIT: @Weinsteinlaw / Twitter

Puerto Rico still needs help recovering. Some would think that it is more important to help Puerto Rico rebuild than to create a space force.

People are screaming into the Twitter-verse.

CREDIT: @LynxSavage / Twitter

We don’t expect a reasonable response because there is no reason. It’s inexcusable to scapegoat people looking for safe harbor and call them aliens while funneling our money into a fake bid for space.

What about our problems here on Earth?

CREDIT: @tanzinavega / Twitter

Hurricane Maria is the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. The structural damage and the staggering death toll need to be addressed with all the available and necessary resources.

Thankfully, Senators are speaking out with this new information.

CREDIT: @SENWARREN / Twitter

When Trump visited Puerto Rico, he tossed paper towels out into the crowd. And when he tweeted about relief efforts, it was to say that they were unappreciated (rather than expected of the government).

People are telling Trump where he can shove his paper towels.

CREDIT: @GlennC1 / Twitter

Puerto Rican recovery efforts still matter, especially with another hurricane season upon us, making the island vulnerable to more natural disaster hits. Let’s be honest: Puerto Rico has not received proportional relief efforts.

There are some studies and people that say that closer to 5,000 people died because of Hurricane Maria.

CREDIT: @andreagonram / Twitter

Here a major reason that the U.S. federal government has been reluctant to provide meaningful aid:

  • Puerto Rico is effectively a colony, forced to pay taxes, but not receive aid in turn.

Latino celebrities have done more to help Puerto Rico than the U.S. government.

CREDIT: @ColoringApril @Jenniffer2012 / Twitter
Without any fanfare, Pitbull was one of the first celebrities to swiftly donate his private plane to assist in bringing in clean water, food, and medical supplies to the devastated island in the aftermath. He even brought cancer patients to the U.S. to receive necessary treatments.

Since then, Mr. Worldwide has said he sees President Trump’s “true colors.”

CREDIT: @pitbull / Twitter

In an interview with CNN, Pitbull said, “his true colors are real simple. It’s about money, it’s about power, and when you’re raised that way, it goes to show you what your true priorities are.”

Jennifer Lopez has been one of the biggest champions of Puerto Rico.

CREDIT: @jlo / Instagram

Lopez posted an emotional video on her Instagram during a time when she still hadn’t heard back from her family back home. She urged her over 10 million video viewers to donate to the Puerto Rican’s First Lady’s cause: Unidos por Puerto Rico.

J.Lo and Marc Anthony joined forces to create their own initiative: Somos Una Voz.

CREDIT: @MarcAnthonyUSA / Twitter

The organization aims to bring together sports and entertainment celebrities to use their platforms and talents to raise money for recovery efforts.

Daddy Yankee is one of many other artists who joined the coalition.

CREDIT: @PopCrave / Twitter

The funds have gone to help rebuild homes lost during the storm through Habitat for Humanity, distributing food and water during the months after that PR went without, and so much more.

Puerto Rican icon Ricky Martin went in on the ground to help residents.

CREDIT: @ricky_martin / Twitter

He went to small beach towns like Loiza, which was without food, water or even a telephone line to communicate. Martin came in with trucks of water bought by the millions of dollars he raised for relief efforts.

Lin-Manuel Miranda has never stopped tweeting about his home island.

CREDIT: @lin_manuel / Instagram

Six months after the storm, eight months after the storm, just last week, Miranda refuses to let Puerto Rico slip from the news cycles while people are still suffering and injustice continues.

Luis Fonsi joined John Leguizamo in a PSA.

CREDIT: @FonsiDominicana / Twitter

While Fonsi tried to continue with his tour, he couldn’t without making a PSA to raise awareness. He even told TIME, “We’re all trying to be professional because, as they say, the show must go on. [But] it’s obvious we’re all heavy-hearted and concerned.”

Gina Rodriguez is a proud Puerto Rican and has used her platform for good.

CREDIT: @hereisgina / Twitter

Both to raise funds but also raise expectations and destroy stereotypes that people have about Puerto Ricans.

Literally, people don’t understand how more hasn’t been made of the issues.

CREDIT: @TomNamako / Twitter

The people of Puerto Rico are Americans. They deserve better. They deserve to be treated like all the other Americans who are facing a long recovery.

So what can you do to help?

CREDIT: @AJENews / Twitter

Keep donating and keep talking about Puerto Rico. The most important thing you can do is keep Puerto Rico in the mainstream consciousness so we can make some real change. Fight with your words and plans, not verbal attacks.


READ: J.Lo And A.Rod Share Moments From Their Trip To Puerto Rico And Announce A Donation Of 2 Million Dollars

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A Homeowners Association Tried To Keep A Boricua Who Fought For Our Country From Flying Her PR Flag

Culture

A Homeowners Association Tried To Keep A Boricua Who Fought For Our Country From Flying Her PR Flag

screenshot taken from Orlando Sentinel

When hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans came together to demand former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló to resign following leaked chats that revealed political corruption and a series of sexist and homophobic messages, Frances Santiago wanted to stand in solidarity with her people. Living in Kissimmee, Florida, she wasn’t able to protest with her country folk on the archipelago but she demonstrated symbolically by placing her red, white and blue Puerto Rican flag outside of her home. 

Now, the Central Florida Boricua is facing a battle against her own community leaders. Three weeks after putting up the flag, the homeowner received a letter from the Rolling Hills Estates Homeowners Association requesting her to take it down. 

Santiago, an Army veteran who served 14 years as a medic, including two tours in Iraq, says she refuses to remove the flag.

“I fought for this, to be able to do this. So, I don’t see a problem with flying my flag here,” the woman told Orlando-area news station WFTV.

According to HOA bylaws, all flags are outlawed. However, the board made an exception for US flags, sports flags and flags used to honor first responders and fallen officers. Considering these edicts, Santiago is unsure why the group is asking her to remove the flag, as Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States.

“Puerto Rico is part of America. What’s the big issue with us having our flag there,” she said.

HOA president Norma McNerney told  WFTV that she’s not asking the Santiago family to remove the flag because it’s from Puerto Rico; however, she did not comment on the island being the colonial property of the US and, thus, meeting the association’s criterion. 

“We treat all owners the same. If you travel through our community, you will see the only flags are those regulated by the state,” McNerney said.

Puerto Ricans have historically been banned from displaying their flag. 

While many tease that Boricuas exhibit their bandera on anything and everything, from their cars and house goods to their clothes and accessories, owning a Puerto Rican flag wasn’t legal until 1957. Nine years prior, on June 10, 1948, la Ley de La Mordaza, better known as the gag law, made it a crime to own or display a Puerto Rican flag, sing a patriotic song or speak or write of independence. The legislation, signed into law by Jesús T. Piñero, the United States-appointed governor, aimed at suppressing the growing movement to liberate Puerto Rico from its colonial ties to the United States. Anyone accused and found guilty of disobeying the law could be sentenced to ten years in prison, be fined $10,000 or both.

Additionally, in Kissimmee, which locals nicknamed “Little Puerto Rico” because of its vast Puerto Rican population, there has been pushback from community members who are not pleased with the demographic changes. City-Data forums warn people interested in moving to Central Florida to beware of Puerto Ricans, who commenters refer to as “roaches,” “criminals,” and the N-word, while news of attacks against Boricuas has become more common. Florida is home to more Puerto Ricans in the contiguous US than any other state. Most of the population resides in the Orlando-Kissimmee area. The region has been the top destination for Puerto Ricans escaping the financial crisis since 2008 and displacement following Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. But it is also the prime journey stop for diasporic Puerto Ricans from New York, Chicago, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Massachusetts. The area is among the largest and fastest-growing Puerto Rican communities in the country.

As such, Central Florida Boricuas have rallied around Santiago. An online petition created by the Florida Puerto Rican group Alianza for Progress is asking the HOA to cease their discriminatory practices against Santiago and is already close to meeting its goal of 1,600 signatures. At the time of writing, it is short just 51 names.

Santiago and her husband Efrain have insisted that they have no intention of bringing the flag down.

“[The flag] will stay there and we’ll deal with it; we’ll exhaust every avenue possible,” Efrain said. “We have our house, you see, up to standards. We’re not doing anything wrong. We’re not doing anything to our neighbors by flying our flag.”

While the Santiagos haven’t presently been issued any fines for the violation, they said they do have a lawyer and are prepared to take this fight to protect their freedom further. “I’m proud of my roots, who I am, [where] I come from. We’re not offending anyone. None of the neighbors were offended with us putting the flag there,” Efrain said.

Read: The Governor Of Puerto Rico Was Caught In A Chat Using Grotesque Homophobic And Sexist Language And The Entire Island Is Calling Him To Resign In Massive Protests

With Reports Of Trump Employing Undocumented Workers, CBP Was Asked Why Trump’s Properties Have Not Been Raided

Things That Matter

With Reports Of Trump Employing Undocumented Workers, CBP Was Asked Why Trump’s Properties Have Not Been Raided

As president, Donald Trump’s platform has centered on anti-immigrant policies; however, as a real estate tycoon, his businesses have thrived on the labor of undocumented workers. With Immigration and Customs Enforcement carrying out massive raids across the country, some media are asking why the agency hasn’t busted any of Trump’s properties, despite its striking record of making unauthorized hires.

To be clear, outlets aren’t calling for more raids of undocumented workers but rather spotlighting the hypocrisy of a president who monetarily benefits from the very labor his administration controversially and violently resolves to stamp out.

When asked about Trump’s businesses seeming to be immune from investigation, CBP has remained silent on the issue.

During CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, host Jake Tapper asked acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan why ICE, which Morgan headed until last month, hadn’t conducted any raids or investigations into Trump’s clubs and hotels given multiple reports that the properties employ undocumented people.

“You really can’t say that for sure,” Morgan said, evading questions about the validity of the claims made against Trump’s businesses. “There are investigations going on all the time that you’re unaware of. … Of course, it’s going to jeopardize the investigation if I come on here and I talk to you about an investigation that’s going on.”

According to undocumented workers who have been employed by Trump, the president was aware of their immigration status.

Since 2015, when Trump announced his bid for presidency, journalists have reported on the mendacity of a then-candidate calling the people who built his real estate empire “rapists” and “drug-runners.” Since taking office, more news has circulated on the president’s use of undocumented immigrant labor. 

Last December, the New York Times interviewed undocumented housekeeper Victorina Morales, who had been working at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. In the article, the Guatemalan woman disclosed that employers were aware of her immigration status when she was hired in 2013 and instructed her to use phony papers in an effort to swindle the system.

The news was particularly damning at the time as the president was calling for the expansion of E-Verify, an online tool by the federal government that checks whether employees are legally eligible to work. According to a later report by the Washington Postnot only were several of his properties not using the tool but they were also informing people on how to illegally fake documents to get hired.

In May, CNN spoke with 19 undocumented immigrants who previously worked for Trump and noted that the president was undoubtedly aware of their status and employment.

“Some of these employees were the most-trusted employees of the Trump family. They’ve been working there for 10, 15 years,” Anibal Romero, a lawyer representing 38 immigrants who were undocumented while working at the Trump property, said during the segment. “Some of my clients had the keys to Eric Trump’s house in Westchester, New York.”

More recently, the Washington Post reported that many construction crews at Trump properties were made up of undocumented workers. The news came not long after Eric Trump announced that the company was making a “broad effort” to fire unauthorized workers. In the article, one employee noted that his supervisor also told him how to buy fake paperwork on a street corner in New York.

The reason why businessman Trump participates in the “immigration problem” he rails against as president is simple: it gives his company a competitive advantage.

Not only are undocumented laborers paid less but they are also less likely to quit due to limited employment opportunities and not as likely to complain if they are being mistreated, as many are.

With evidence that employers are oftentimes very aware of the immigration status of their undocumented laborers, Tapper asked Morgan why companies who hire unauthorized workers are not punished along with the workers themselves. According to a Syracuse University report that the host cited, only 11 people and no companies were prosecuted for employing undocumented workers between the spring of 2018 and 2019. During the same time, 85,727 people were prosecuted for entering the US illegally.

Morgan responded that an investigation into at least one of the businesses that employs undocumented workers is ongoing.

The interview came days after ICE raided a Mississippi chicken processing plant. The massive bust, which arrested 680 people suspected of being undocumented workers and ripped apart hundreds of families, was the largest worksite takedown in US history. No employers have currently been arrested.

Read: Customs And Border Protections Chief Mark Morgan Defended The Mississippi Raids Despite Children Left Without Parents

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