The nice thing about addressing the biggest piece of news from the week is that mostly everyone is already familiar, so I’ll keep it brief and sprinkle in some of my takes.
Also, some are asking about citations? Wellll I’m a smart guy and this is all from memory so no need, right? Jk, I’ll throw in citations when they’re convenient, otherwise I’ll just wait until those copyright lawsuits come. Let’s dial in.
Nearing the 5-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria, a category 5 hurricane that hit Puerto Rico, Hurricane Fiona struck. Most PR natives still vividly remember hurricane Maria as it completely ravaged the island and served as an imprint experience for all. Y’all should google the before and after pictures, they’re insane.
Hurricane Fiona just got upgraded to a category 4 I believe and is headed up the East coast to Canada (I had no clue that hurricanes tracked like that and even reached Canada). It is most recently known for knocking out the power for the whole island and all but destroying Puerto Rico’s power grid that was still largely fragile and being built back up from Maria.
So, what’s the US doing about all of this? After all it’s a territory. President Biden declared it as a major disaster, which is pretty much a formality to unlock additional funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The damages are still unfolding, so the exact plans and structure of the relief efforts are TBD, but Chuck Schumer mentioned that FEMA is preparing to cover all costs for emergency protective services conducted in Puerto Rico rather than asking the territory to bear any of the costs.
But this got me thinking, how is our relationship with PR? Because I only hear about it during the bad times.
Turns out, not good.
A little history for you, Christopher Columbus found the island and since he was a Spaniard, the island fell under Spanish rule. That is, until the US took it in 1898 after the Spanish American war. Since then, it’s been a territory with strong internal nationalism.
It’s interesting because Puerto Rico is part of the United States but distinct from it, enjoys US citizenship but lacks any sort of political representation, and infused with its own pride despite not being a sovereign state. And the same goes for a lot of the other Caribbean Island territories.
(Puerto Rico: A U.S. territory in Crisis, 2022)
So couldn’t we make it a state? Yea, probably. But would they want to be a state? Eh.
Puerto Rico has two main political parties that are different (and in my opinion less complicated) than the Republican and Democratic parties of the mainland. Simply put, there is the New Progressive Party that is pro-eventual statehood and the Popular Democratic Party that is pro-autonomy (hence that nationalism I mentioned earlier).
Now, I’m the last person to know anything about PR politics, but I think we could probably do a little better for as long as they are classified as a territory. It’s weird (in a bad way) that they have no political representation in the government, but we can exercise almost complete control over them. We kind of screw them over with the Jones Act for imports and exports. They get little resources from us, they don’t exercise anything wage related (there is a lot of manufacturing down there because of this), etc.
Just sucks that the only time you really hear about the US supporting them in any way is right after some sort of natural disaster.
Ending on a lighter note, but staying on topic, here’s a video of me doing the salsa a work function after working in Chicago where I met all of my PR friends 😊
Let’s have ourselves a weekend.