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Puerto Rico vs. U.S. or Puerto Rico & U.S.?

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American Flag and Puerto Rican flag waving together as a sign of unity and peace despite history.

American Flag and Puerto Rican flag waving together as a sign of unity and peace despite history.

American Flag and Puerto Rican flag waving together as a sign of unity and peace despite history.

Nina Roberts and Dexter Armstrong

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HURRICANE MARIA IMPACT

You have probably heard of Hurricane Maria, the devastating disaster that hit Puerto Rico, an island just Southeast of Florida. The hurricane began at 6:15 local time on September 20, wreaking havoc across the island destroying homes, causing mudslides, flooding and making people fear for their life.

Puerto Rico has been affected by corrupt politicians, social unawareness, and a poor economy that Hurricane Maria has hugely impacted. This has all weighed on the status of Puerto Rico in the eyes of their federal government. It has caused limited resources to be sent overseas, and it has caused a major social epidemic within mainland residents and their equal Puerto Rican citizens.

Satellite image of the Hurricane over Puerto Rico

Maria was considered the worst case scenario for Puerto Rico, physically and financially considering that the island is so small and the hurricane directly overthrew it.  Hurricane Maria became a Category 3 hurricane on September 18th, then it grew in strength and became a Category 5 hurricane with rapid wind speeds of 175mph.

After hitting Dominica, a small island southeast of Puerto Rico, it slowed down and became a Category 4 Hurricane with harsh wind speeds of 155mph when it hit Puerto Rico.

Even after the main storm hit, the recuperating period wasn’t much better.

A 15 year old student said that after the storm, she went to volunteer at her school because it had electricity, water and she had learned that lots of her friends had fled to the United States. After all of the confusion, people had returned to find their homes in shambles.

Aliana Arzola-Piñero and her family decided to wait out the storm in their home. Fortunately, their home is made out of concrete, and they managed to save supplies such as water, canned food and medicine. They made it through with no damages to the house, but others weren’t so lucky.

The family joined the community when they all banded together to help one another. For example to charge their computer they use a neighbor’s generator as well as to cook meals because they don’t have gas stoves.

Residents didn’t have any power, water, or cell service. With the loss of communication, people couldn’t call friends or family to see if they were ok and if they had been affected heavily.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), on day 1 after the Hurricane, 4.8% of people had cell service, 20% had water, 0% had power and 0 emergency generators had been set up at critical facilities.

Statistics on recovery from different periods of time.

30 days after the hurricane, FEMA’s recovery efforts helped helped restore cell phone service to 61% of residents, water to 69% of residents, and electricity to 21% of residents. 148 generators had been set up at critical facilities and after that the numbers just kept increasing.

Furthermore, 60 days after Maria’s mess, 96% had cell service, 91% had water service, 49% had Power and 645 Generators had been set up. Currently one year later, 99% have cell service, 99% have water, 99.99% have power and only 85 generators are set up. Life for Puerto Ricans living on the Island has been rough as you can probably imagine.

Instead of 168,000 people flew from Puerto Rico to Florida as a result of the disaster with another 100,000 booked on flights to orlando through the end of the year this is the fastest out-migration in the Puerto Rico’s History.

Sophomore Ellie Kauffman said, “They should give more money and send people down there to help.”

President Donald Trump said before the disaster hit the island that he would help Puerto Rico with supplies and support, but after the hurricane made landfall, Trump was relaxing in New Jersey at his private Golf Club.

Senior Daniela Lopez said, “I think it’s important to support people who are in need especially when they just had the Hurricane crisis.”

He did hold a meeting at his Gold Club but it was to talk about the travel ban and not Hurricane Maria. Trump also lied about how many people had died during the Hurricane. There was an initial count of deaths and supposedly 6 to 18 people had died.

George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health had conducted a study and found that 2,975 people had died. Trump initially denied this claim saying the Democrats made up the figures to make him look bad.

 

HISTORY

Although Puerto Rico experienced tremendous inequalities in their provision of hurricane relief, the island is familiar with unjustified mistreatment inflicted by their federal government. It goes as far back as when Puerto Rico was still a colony of Spain.

In the spring of 1898, the U.S. invaded Puerto Rico because the newfound country wanted to jumpstart their sugar market. Puerto Rico was the closest area that had (and still has!) numerous successful sugarcane plantations.

Puerto Ricans at the time dreamed of fighting against the tyrant Spain. Their goal was to gain independence, as they were inspired by other Latin-American colonies that became independent from Spain just decades earlier.

These countries included Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.

After discovering the people’s desire, the U.S. promised to fight for the island’s independence, but had intentions to steal P.R.’s sugar market afterwards.

According to the History Channel, “A lot of Puerto Ricans who were poor, who were working-class, who were peasants, took this as an invitation to side with the Americans in what was still a war against Spain.”

Thus, the Spanish-American War began with the U.S. fighting for Puerto Rico. American troops secured the island by August of 1898, in which Spain decided to count their losses and surrender.

In December, Spain offered Guam, Cuba, and Puerto Rico to the United States in the Treaty of Paris. Instead of keeping their promise, the U.S. took the golden opportunity to own Puerto Rico.

The Spanish-American War ended, but the promise of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all” did not apply to Puerto Ricans.

After the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico became a colonial territory to the U.S. It remains that status even to this day. The reason for this is because of the Insular Cases.

The Supreme Court created the  Insular Cases in 1901 that states, “Puerto Rico and other territories ceded by the Spanish were full of ‘alien races’ who couldn’t understand “Anglo-Saxon principles.”

As John Oliver playfully jokes about in his HBO late night show, the creator of the Insular Cases had the mindset, “I do so wish we could explain the concept of voting to them, but deary me their savage little coconut brains would probably just collapse. I’m assuming it’s coconut milk in there, we’ll soon see-” and pretended to hit the air with a stick.

His representation of Henry Billings Brown, the creator of this doctrine and the writer of “separate, but equal” decision in the Plessy v. Ferguson case, brings attention to the ignorance of Americans at the time of non-white cultures, and how that has influenced the decisions of American politicians today.

Oliver’s imitation of hitting Puerto Ricans on the head to “discover if they have coconut milk inside” is to show the abuse and injustice that Puerto Ricans suffer.

The U.S. achieved the goal of their initial invasion of Puerto Rico, in which they took over the sugar and coffee industry on the island. But “Within the first 10 years of the U.S. occupation of Puerto Rico, U.S. sugar interests had pretty much taken over, and the Puerto Rican coffee class has been displaced entirely.”

After backlash from Puerto Ricans, President Woodrow Wilson in 1917 signed the Jones Act. This gave Puerto Ricans their well-deserved, yet unwanted American citizenship.

There were many caveats to this enactment. The first one is that because Puerto Ricans are now U.S. citizens, they can be drafted to war. Puerto Ricans were sent to defend the Panama Canal and other tropical areas because the federal government believed that “white people weren’t suited to fight in tropical climates because they didn’t have immunity to the diseases found there.”

This is the story of Jose Guadalupe, a man living in Caguas, Puerto Rico, when he was drafted to Vietnam in 1965. He was only 22 years old when he became a cook for the U.S. Army, also known as a 94 B 20.

He went up in rank from an E1, which is a Private to E4, a Specialist.

His daughter, Julia Roberts, tells the pieces of the story that her father told her of his service in the Army: “He told me that when he got off the plane from Vietnam, he threw everything in the garbage. Uniforms, papers. What he saw over there- he didn’t want to remember any memories of what he went through.”

He had early separation in September of 1967. He was able to come back to the states but was left in St. Louis, Missouri. Jose Guadalupe died in 2015, and his memory lives on through his daughter and grandchildren.

There was another caveat: Puerto Ricans aren’t allowed to vote in presidential elections. This was true for the other territories of the U.S., such as Guam, the Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, and Washington D.C. That is until D.C. was given rights to vote in 1961.

To put this into perspective, “More than four million people live in the U.S. territories, and more than 98% of them are racial or ethnic minorities.” What is the message that America is portraying by not allowing these populations to vote? Do these minority votes matter?  

In summation, Puerto Ricans have been declared American citizens. Puerto Rico has more American citizens than 21 of the states, and the elected President of the U.S. becomes the island’s Chief of State, which is superior to Puerto Rico’s governor. Still, Puerto Ricans are not given the right to vote. This has been the reality for the past 114 years, and continues to be.

 

ECONOMIC CRISIS

Puerto Rico wasn’t doing all that great before the Hurricane hit. Puerto Rico is $78 billion dollars in debt and has been in debt long before Hurricane Maria hit and the governor and the Mayor of San Juan begged

The Pie Chart shows who Puerto Rico’s Government owes their debt to.

for money.

Puerto Rico definitely needed money considering it’s a commonwealth.

History teacher Johanna Perez said, “Because Puerto Rico is a commonwealth it’s important that we send money there especially after the hurricane.”

According to this chart Puerto Rico in 2000 was $24.2 billion dollars in debt and recently in 2014 it was $72.3 billion dollars in debt, which has gone up to 78 billion dollars in debt in 2018

How much Puerto Rico’s debt has accumulated over time.

Puerto Rico owes $17.8 billion  in general obligation bonds, $17.6 billion in obligations issued by Puerto Rico Sales tax financing corp, $9 billion in debt from Puerto Rico’s electric power utility authority known as PREPA, $52.2 billion in pension-related debt, and $21 billion in other obligations linked to utilities.  

A reason Puerto Rico is in so much debt is because some of the best and brightest minds in Puerto Rico have moved into the mainland where there are more Puerto Ricans living there than on the island that is Puerto Rico. There are more Puerto Ricans living on the mainland than there are in Puerto Rico.

Between 2005 and 2013 Puerto Rico lost 5.5% of its population and over the last decade 500,000 people have left. Puerto Ricans have had American citizenship since 1917, and since then they have remained much poorer than most Americans. In 2015 a households income would be $18,626 compared to an income in New York of $73,854. Before the hurricane the island had an unemployment rate of 12% while the U.S had 4.4%.

The Economic Crisis in Puerto Rico is also affecting the lives of some of the residents. After Maria hit, engineers tried to get the power plant back on to restore electricity back to the island. Lots of it was rusted steel, which really showed how much the government wasn’t paying attention to its equipment.

Some engineers said that some of the parts haven’t been replaced in years, and the head of the power grid restoration for the U.S army corps said that the whole grid needs to be reconstructed.

On May 3, Puerto Rico filled the equivalent of bankruptcy in hopes it would shave off some of its debt. Since Puerto Rico isn’t a municipality, Congress invoked a law that places the debtor and its creditors before a judge in San Juan to go through a restructuring process Title lll.

The hurricane dealt heavy damages to people’s homes and public places, which have a price tag of $95 billion dollars. Puerto Rico treasury secretary Raul Maldonado told New York City’s former Mayor De Blasio that the country will face a government shutdown on October 31 without funding from Congress.

He said he asked for help so he wanted $6 – $8 billion dollars to keep the government running for a couple more months. Without the government up and running, that would also slow down the rebuilding of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

Also a big reason Puerto Rico is in so much debt is because of misguided tax loopholes from Wall Street cheats/swindlers and irresponsible governing and being made worse by things like the Jones Act.

The closest thing to a say in government is through Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Rosselló. It has long been since Puerto Rico has advocates who can express what they need and vote for their interests in Washington D.C.

The needs of Puerto Rico are money, constant attention, and some concern for one’s fellow citizens.

 

LEGAL STATUS

Since Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico in September 2017, the mainland country has been more vocal about their limited knowledge of the island.

Due to this national social epidemic, there is a debate on how much the iSchool community knows about Puerto Rico. This is especially important because about 2.3 million Latinos lived in NYC as of 2010, and 33% of that number are Puerto Rican. As the Hispanic Research Inc. reminds us, that number has continued to grow.

In the survey students were questioned on simple facts about the island itself, Puerto Rican culture, and the iSchool’s fellow Puerto Rican peers. The 54 responses were made up of a wide array of cultural backgrounds, ages, and grades.

16.7% of responders did not know or were unsure where Puerto Rico was located. Over 25% did not know or were unsure if Puerto Rico was its own country.

Surprisingly, iSchool students’ knowledge on whether Puerto Ricans need a passport to come into the U.S. was broken up between the three responses.

Nearly 70% of iSchool students are unaware of the citizenship rights of Puerto Ricans. 

Why is there such confusion within students about a territory that is just as valid as the state that they live in?

The Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, and Puerto Rico’s Congress member Jenniffer González have been fighting so passionately with the Trump administration about how exactly the word “commonwealth” is confusing to the people of Puerto Rico, and mainland residents. 

Puerto Rico’s non-voting Congress member, Jenniffer Gonzalez (left). Puerto Rico’s Governor, Ricardo “Ricky” Rossello (right).

Commonwealth is just another term for Puerto Rico belonging to the United States as a colonial territory. It is a term that many U.S. citizens weren’t familiar with until Hurricane Maria.

The commonwealth status means that Puerto Rico is still property of the United States, but they are self-governed.

It forces the federal government to give aid, but they determine the right amount of aid. It also gives the U.S. government the right to put red tape over the Puerto Rican government in terms of receiving financial help from foreign countries, as Katy Steinmatz reports in Time magazine.

A pro in Puerto Rico remaining a commonwealth is that residents can keep their taxing system. Puerto Ricans only pay a 4% income tax, which is almost ten times less than income taxes on the mainland.

Another reason that many support Puerto Rico’s current status is that they will remain Puerto Ricans.

The islanders and those on the mainland are extremely prideful in what they have. Despite what other Latin-American countries say about them “selling out” to the Americans back in the 1800s, they still own what they have.

What do they own? Their most valuable possession is their colorful past of African, Spaniard, South American, Caribbean, and Taino Indian descendants. Their status helps them to keep their pride in culture, traditions, and land in tact. Taking that away would mean a radically increased risk of gentrification and white-washing of their history.

As stated previously, Puerto Rico has a representative in Congress named Jenniffer González. She is one of the six non-voting resident-commissioners, which compromise of Washington D.C., Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.

In June of this year, González wrote up a bill that would make Puerto Rico the 51st state of the United States by the year 2021.

Along with complete statehood, there will be a nine-member task force that will work with Congress and the President to evaluate laws “to be amended or repealed so Puerto Rico could become a state.”

This will require the federal government to give temporary financial aid to the island until they are at the economic status as most of the other states. This task force will be required to submit reports consistently to Congress and the President on Puerto Rico’s transition and development.

So far, 14 democrat and 20 Republican representatives have sponsored the bill. That is out of the 435 total House of Representatives.

In reference to the bill, Governor Ricardo Rossello said, “No longer do we want ambiguity. We want clarity. Either here in Congress you are with us or you are against the people of Puerto Rico.”

There hasn’t been any recent news on the Puerto Rico Admission Act since early July.

But why? There are about 3.4 million Puerto Ricans that are still on the island. Why isn’t the government serving what they want?

It is because most of the island is divided on what they want themselves. There is no clear solution that would solve all of the island’s problems, and all the history between Puerto Rico and the United States.

Considering statehood, Puerto Rico’s government would gain more funding to improve the departments that are failing dramatically.  

As a Puerto Rican Senior at the iSchool, Jayvin Espinal discussed all of the police force problems on the island. Many of his family members are police officers in Puerto Rico, specifically his aunt is a sergeant in the Anasco Department.

He explained, “The crime rate is extremely high. A lot of people don’t respect the government. There is no governing authority, it’s more like assistance. Everything is off rapids. I see kids that can buy cigarettes and alcohol. Then it relies on the police force, but they don’t know what to do. There is no funding. All 401k’s are diminished. It’s up in the air. They don’t know what’s really going to happen.”

Espinal also touched upon the educational system issues: “The education systems are very poor and almost non-existent. A lot of teachers are underpaid. A lot of teachers don’t have the financial funding. The government doesn’t even have the financial funding. There is a lack of education and a lack of structure.”

Due to the Puerto Rico’s political climate in 2016, former Governor of Puerto Rico, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, rose the pension age and lowered the amount of employee contributions. This was his form of austerity to save and circulate money into the Puerto Rican economy.

The new plan was that public employees would work harder and for a longer time, and the government would take money out of their paychecks to save for their retirements as a form of a 401k plan.

But they found that “the central government was supposed to have made $367.6 million in such payments since 2014…it has forked over just $22.7 million” back in 2016.

Where did over 300 million dollars go? And what does Puerto Rico do about the 330,000 employees in the Teachers Retirement System, and Employees Retirement System that didn’t receive the money, holiday bonuses, and vacation loans that they were promised?

Another necessary change that would occur is the island’s intense sales tax would lower to statewide regulation.

Puerto Rico rose their sales tax in October of 2015 from 7% to 11.5%. 10.5% will go to the Department of Treasury, and the other 1% will be separated amongst other departments.

Although there is a low income tax, the sales tax makes up for the loss. All that it is doing is taking more and more away from Puerto Ricans’ hard earned income.

Puerto Rican Senior,Megan Norat said, “It’s really bad down there because a lot has been lost, and the people who do have jobs, their salary is not very good. And then they have all these other expenses they have to pay.”

Norat gave an entire list of those expenses ranging. from food to clothing to rent costs. “Everything there is expensive. A lot of people are leaving, especially the young people because they are educated. They know that there are better opportunities for them elsewhere.”

Statehood would mean the sales tax burden would be lifted. Even if it were to go down to the states’ highest sales tax, which is just 9.45% in Chicago – there would be an improvement.

And the biggest win for the island since the Jones Act: Puerto Ricans would be able to vote!

There is one student at the iSchool that supports Puerto Rico becoming a state. Jaylyn Padilla is a Puerto Rican sophomore, and she believes that Puerto Rico. is “part of the United States now, so it just makes more sense that we call it a state.”

The cons of this solution are simple, but might be too overwhelming for the Puerto Rican people at this time and age. Puerto Ricans would be relieved of their sales tax, but they would have an increased income tax. Puerto Ricans would also give up self-governance and have to obey to the United States’ levels of government.

Puerto Ricans would also risk giving up their culture once the states gain more accessibility.

Senior Zoe Justiniano, who’s family is from West of the island, said, “growing up, it looked so different.” She mentioned all the times she went to Puerto Rico as a young girl, visiting her great grandmother’s house in El Yunque that her family has owned since the 1920s.

But “now there is WalMart, Wendy’s. There are so many commercialized things. Like none of the mom and pop stores are there.”

The island would only continue to get more Americanized, which is far from what the island wants.

There is one final solution: Puerto Rico gains independence and become its own country.

Senior Talya Matz, who is passionate about United States injustices sums up this solution: “it would be empowering for them to be independent, but I don’t think at the moment that they’re in a good place to be independent because they’re still struggling.”

Every risk that Puerto Rico has in becoming a state, and remaining a commonwealth wouldn’t be a worry. The cons are more severe, which is that Puerto Rico would lose financial help from the U.S., and risk the entire island slipping below the poverty line.

 

POLITICS

Since Hurricane Maria, the leaders of the federal and local governments have ignored the needs of their Puerto Ricans citizens.

How is it that Puerto Rico has been the topic of conversation for an entire year, but nothing has changed to reform the island?

It’s because of the corrupt Puerto Rican politicians in the past that have set up a failing political climate for the island in 2018.

Espinal, who’s family is from Anasco, Mayaguez, and Ponce, says, “we can see that Puerto Rico isn’t too involved in politics. My family doesn’t participate in it because they can see that the government is corrupt. Which is true – with limited knowledge and conservative views, it is hard to establish a political stance. A lot of people don’t engage in politics.”

Sally Lopez was the director of Puerto Rico’s administration of the labor development back in October of 2016. She was found guilty of “bribery and conspiracy to commit electronic fraud” with Ivonne Falcon, the “vice president of Puerto Rico’s heavily indebted water and sewer company.”

Two administrative office workers of the island’s house of representatives, Marielis Falcon and Glenn Omar Rivera, were also found guilty.

But at the center of the scheme was Anaudi Hernandez. He was the man in charge of one of former Governor Padilla’s campaign parties for the Popular Democratic Party.

His crimes were “offering public officials items such as expensive meals, fountain pens and concert tickets in exchange for political favors and government contracts.”

Governor Padilla was under investigation because Hernandez used “his connections with high-ranking government officials, including the brother of Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla, to appoint people to certain positions.”

The federal government of the United States is also to blame. America has made promises to Puerto Rico that they cannot fulfill.

Junior Lila Borges thinks that all Congress needs to do is care more: “Right now they’re not really focused on it [economic crisis]. Trump hasn’t done anything…They’re just saying stuff, but words aren’t going to help fix what’s going on. They’re not putting most of their attention into it.”

Puerto Ricans believed Trump cared when he said he was going to clear

President Donald Trump threw paper towels at Hurricane Maria victims in a church in San Juan in October 2017.

the debt back in October of 2017.

In an interview, with Geraldo Rivera, Trump stated, “We are going to work something out. We’ll have to look at their whole debt structure. You know that they owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street. We’re going to have to wipe that out. You can say goodbye to that.”

This was seemingly impossible though to Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget for Trump. He said, “Puerto Rico is going to have to figure out how to fix the errors that it’s made for the last generation on its own finances.”

Justiniano simply said, “It’s dumb.” She went on, “because I know a lot of my neighbors, they were supporting Trump at first because they heard what he was going to do for the economy for Puerto Rico. So everyone got their hopes up, but now their hopes are down. My grandparents hated the idea of him becoming president, but so many people surrounding us told them about the promises he was making. But he didn’t fulfill them.”

 

BRIGHT SIDE OF ECONOMIC BOOSTS

One year later after Hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico is just starting to become a tourist spot once again. Puerto Rico’s economy isn’t too great but tourism is the backbone of Puerto Rico’s economy. After the Hurricane there was no tourism and now it is just starting to pick back up.

Puerto Rico has one of the most complicated economies in the world. Puerto Rico’s economy relies on United States federal aid. Puerto Rico’s economy was mainly sugar production up until the 1940s. But manufacturing surpassed Agriculture as a source of income.

Since 2006,  Puerto Rico’s economy has been going downhill. It has a lot to do with tax preferences that drew companies to invest in the island. Puerto Rico becoming a state would benefit the economy.

Puerto Rico is costing the US $22 billion a year according to the book Pay to the Order of Puerto Rico: The Cost of Dependence by Alexander Odishelidze but if it became a state it could contribute $2 billion a year to the US Treasury.

Also, many Puerto Ricans are living below the poverty line but if Puerto Rico became a state all residents would get access to jobs and income creation benefits that could make a huge difference.

They would also be incorporated into the U.S. national economy, which would allow them to pull get out of the economic hole. Statehood would also provide healthcare so Puerto Ricans don’t have to pay as much.

It would also allow for open trade, which could be very beneficial considering the Jones Act is preventing that from happening.

To make tourism come back most of the hotels are now fully operational. Some resorts are still closed but people can already reserve seating at some of them. The Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport is fully operational and welcoming international and domestic travelers.

Cruises have been docking since November of 2017 which is a great way for tourists to see Puerto Rico which if it became popular would be only beneficial to Puerto Rico’s economy.

The Governor of Puerto Rico is trying to get investors to support Puerto Rico. He is using the tragedy that is Hurricane Maria to portray Puerto Rico as an “Blank Canvas” for investors to come and experiment.

Things are getting back to business such as most schools are open and businesses are opening back up. Tourism by June is expected to reach pre-Maria levels and maybe even higher, which can be nothing but incredible for the economy.

Also a poll was conducted and 25% knew that Puerto Ricans were American citizens but after all of the News coverage about the Hurricane, 85% knew that Puerto Ricans were citizens.

So the Governor wants to capitalize on this opportunity and use the media coverage to showcase Puerto Rico for what it is, what it has and what needs to be changed. The Governor also talked with Trump about the topic of statehood and what could be done about it.

Trump replied that he didn’t want to discuss and that he wanted the people of Puerto Rico to decide their fate. Many people wonder why Puerto Rico isn’t a state and there are reasons on both sides but some people don’t know it’s a state or that Puerto Rico wants statehood. Puerto Rico has been asking for statehood since the 1960s.

History teacher Amy Strassler said, “I don’t think it’s necessarily fair or not fair I think it should be up to Puerto Rico.”

Many people don’t know it but there have been numerous votes on the topic of statehood the most recent poll in June 2017. 97% of people voted for the idea of statehood, but only 25% of eligible voters voted.

So the Governor believes that this is an opportunity to rebuild Puerto Rico smarter and get the best innovations so Puerto Rico would showcase all of the latest technologies in Energy and transportation.

If Governor Ricardo succeeds, all of their advancements in technology would attract lots of tourists overall boosting the economy even further. It could also attract other companies to present their latest technology in Puerto Rico.

Also the government is attempting to persuade businesses and companies to move to Puerto Rico with changes to the tax acts 20 and 22. People who move a business to the island would pay only 4% in tax. Also if you move to Puerto Rico you would pay zero in capital gains.

People who set up a bank or hedge fund, in Puerto Rico people pay 4% in tax because other places in the world tax you on your worldwide income.

Senior Georgia Moore said, “I guess programs like welfare, benefits for families struggling due to the Hurricane or a bill to pass that increases our responsibility over them.”

Puerto Rico is a small part of the U.S, but a lot of U.S citizens are Puerto Rican and migrated from the island over to the mainland. So we definitely should help them especially after they emerged from their crisis.

 

CONCLUSION  

Currently the main topic surrounding Puerto Rico is whether it should become a state or not.

Sophomore Elly Tuffey answered, “I think that the President of the United States and the Governor of Puerto Rico should talk and figure out what’s best for the people that live there and if they stay part of the United States they should have the right to vote.”

There is a lot the U.S Government can do in the case of Puerto Rico but for example they could make Puerto Rico the 51st state they could also run Puerto Rico right into the ground. But we can’t say for certain what will happen to the future of Puerto Rico.

In the words of Senior Elise Hart, “why not try to help people? Why not try to be nice? I don’t understand.”

The United States needs to work harder to protect the island and help their fellow people. iSchool students Puerto Rican or not, had their own variation of the phrase “we should care about what happens to Puerto Rico because they are a part of our country.”

“La Puerta de la Bandera”, an abandoned, historical landmark located on Calle San Jose, in Viejo San Juan painted black, as a sign of mourning for the island.

And all students with emphasis and desperation when asked, “do you think Puerto Ricans are treated like second class citizens in their own country?” said definitely.

The media, Congress, and the federal government have to work together for the Americans that are Puerto Rican. They should not be treated like they are foreign. They should be protected, and their island should be taken account for. Why? Because it did, it does, and it should have always mattered to the United States.

Nina Roberts, Investigative Journalist

Nina Roberts is a reporter for the Investigative Journalism module. Her writing passions include the injustices of Puerto Ricans in the US, as well as...

Dexter Armstrong, Investigative Journalist






Dexter Armstrong is a freshmen at the NYC iSchool. He believes that the Earth is round and that Aliens at Area 51 are actually controlling Trump....

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