The political environment and changes in Puerto Rico
The past couple of years have been ones of struggling in the political sphere in Puerto Rico. From the bankruptcy, to the hurricanes, to the recent scandal with former Governor Rosselló (NPP, D), Puerto Rico’s climate is shifting and is at the crossroads of some major changes. At this point there is no way for the islands to stay the same, but what remains to be seen is how they will change given the current unrest. With elections coming up and new leadership moving in, the political and social culture in the San Juan capitol, and surrounding areas, could change drastically in the next few years.
The first race to focus on is the San Juan mayoral race. This position has typically been used as a springboard for higher office but more notoriously, though, people have pointed out the toxicity of individuals that use the position in this way and how they are more prone to corruption, thus disillusioning the constituency and causing strife throughout Puerto Rico. Candidate Manuel Natal Albelo (CVM) has outright mentioned how former office holders always coming in promising to be different but in the end “they’re all the same.”
A lot of political unrest came to a boil this summer when it was revealed that sitting governor Rosselló was discussing other office holders, staff, and members of the public in an unprofessional manner. This lead to massive protests on the street in a new fervent rejection of the political arena as a whole and a destabilization of the current major parties that Puerto Rico uniquely holds. Combining these protests with the lack of voter turnout across the islands shows a widespread disillusionment of the people and their attempts to manage their lives separate from a government that has seemed to not adequately served them in years. When Rosselló was exposed in the news people took to the streets in a show of Puerto Rican solidarity without a party preference in mind. From here San Juan, and Puerto Rico as a whole, spurred new candidates, a potential new party, and a change in the way the islands were run.
While there have been several non-binding votes and bill that have gone through Washington and Puerto Rico, the territorial status of the Commonwealth remains to be seen. While many leaders have come out in favor of statehood, with as many as 53 bi-partisan members co-authoring a bill, with all the shifts in culture and in office taking place the people seem to building a Puerto Rico that will reflect them and change the face of the islands from here on.