US Territories’ January 22-28, 2018 political week in tweets

by | Jan 28, 2018 | Political Week in Tweets | Comments

Pedro Rossello: Puerto Rico is a Colonial Ghetto

Puerto Rico’s former governor, Pedro Rossello, vied for Puerto Rican statehood in USA Today on Wednesday. Calling out the US Government for its historical oppression of the territory, Rossello attacked the Insular Cases of the early 1900s, in which the Supreme Court legalized unequal treatment for Puerto Ricans. The former governor also bashed the pseudo-citizenship bestowed upon residents of Puerto Rico in 1917 by claiming that a lack of voting rights, representation, and access to federal programs like Medicaid and CHIPS have established Puerto Rico as a “colonial ghetto.” Rossello dubs the uncertainty felt by Puerto Ricans citizens as “status limbo,” and claims this attitude permeates every aspect of Puerto Rican life. It’s no surprise that puerto ricans have opted for statehood twice in the last five years. In the wake last year’s hurricanes and the 11-year recession in Puerto Rico, Rossello asserts that the US Federal government “must acknowledge its responsibility in this shameful situation.”

Shake Up in the Puerto Rican Government

Several government officials have resigned this week, including the Executive Director of the Puerto Rican Tourism Company, Jose R. Izquierdo II, and the first female commissioner of the Police Bureau, Michelle Hernandez de Fraley. Rafael Ramos Saenz has been appointed as the new President of the State Elections Commission. The Secretary of Public Affairs, Ramón Rosario, announced 5 government-mandated reorganization plans that will affect 25 agencies and programs within the executive branch in order to “consolidate the government.” Within the next 30 days, these changes will go before the Legislative Assembly for approval.

FEMA Cuts Housing Funds for Puerto Rican Families

Dozens of Puerto Rican families now living in US hotels have lost funding, days before they were supposed to be granted an extension. Funding was scheduled to halt on January 13, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) agreed to pay for 36 Connecticut-based families for another month at CN Governor Dan Malloy’s request. They reversed that decision a few days later, claiming a mistake had been made. Families and state officials were not informed of these sudden budget changes; the new state of things was discovered when the hotels received notice from the FEMA system that these families no longer qualified for funding. The communications director to Governor Malloy, Jason Novak, has petitioned FEMA administrators, who claim the families’ homes in Puerto Rico are now livable according to new criteria from Governor Ricardo Rossello. Novak says the only conclusion he can come to for these events is that “the federal government sees the US citizens inhabiting Puerto Rico as second class,” foreshadows an uncertain future for the 10,000 Puerto Ricans have taken refuge in mainland hotels across 40 states since Oct 30.

Puerto Rico Faces Foreclosure Wave

Hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans were awarded 3-month moratoriums on their mortgage payments after Maria, or so they thought. The letters they received were not actually permission to pause their payments; to truly be awarded the moratorium, many were required to call the bank and confirm their qualification. Most people thought the moratoriums were automatic when they received their first correspondence, did not call, and are now behind on payments.. Puerto Rico’s office of the Commissioner of Financial Institution is working hard to collect more information and understand the magnitude of the situation. One thing is clear: many more puerto ricans will lose their homes.

US Employers Look to Puerto Rico

Companies on the US mainland “have long hunted” prospective employees in Puerto Rico, but with US unemployment at a historic low of 4.1 percent and a deepening economic crisis in Puerto Rico, US businesses have intensified their recruitment efforts. Billboards and facebook advertisements promise good jobs with steady pay and relocation services, and many puerto ricans are following employment opportunities off the islands. In the aftermath of Maria, this exodus has intensified. The Office of Economic and Demographic Research projects at least 53,000 Puerto Ricans will settle in Florida due to the disaster.