Puerto Rico has awaken and they will not be put to put back to sleep

Some may be asking why Puerto Ricans have taken to the streets the last few days. The simple answer is that the Puerto Rican governor, Ricardo Rossello, had his group message conversations leaked to the public and the things he and his underlings said were a mix of misogynist, fat shaming, bigotry, financial mismanagement and more. The people are demanding for his resignation (to which he says that he will not). However, Rossello is really only the tip of the problem and was perhaps the straw that broke the camels back (or in Spanish, la gota que colma el vaso – the final drop that makes the cup overflow).

Ricky Rossello Fuera
Ricky Rossello and the posters around Puerto Rico demanding that he resigns.

History better explains how we got to this point. Puerto Rico is currently treated like a colony of the United States. US laws passed at the federal level apply to Puerto Rico, despite that Puerto Rico has no vote. Many Puerto Ricans even pay taxes to the US but still, if they reside in Puerto Rico, cannot vote in any federal elections. Puerto Ricans are born US natural citizens, yet still have no vote in US federal elections, until they move to a state. Puerto Ricans have fought in wars since the Revolutionary War, and were both drafter and volunteered for War War I and every war since (in higher numbers proportionally than many states.) And yet, Puerto Ricans cannot vote.

Protestors near the Capitol
Protestors are almost all peaceful and have been joined by Ricky Martin, Bad Bunny, Lin Manuel Miranda and thousands of others

 They are taxed without representation. The residents that work for the federal government pay US income tax. Those that have investments in the US stateside pay US taxes on those investments

Beyond Rossello and his bigoted staff resigning, there are other things that need to change:

1) The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (AKA the Jones Act) must be repealed. This law artificially raises the price of goods in Puerto Rico by requiring all shipping from US ports to be on US flagged and crewed vessels. Strangely, it does not apply to the US Virgin Islands nor to some other territories such as American Samoa and most of Guam.

Ru Paul: Ricky you are up for elimination
As Ru Paul would say, Ricky, you are up for elimination! Lipsync for your life!

2) The fiscal control board (AKA la Junta or Promesa) was appointed by the USA and it overrides anything the elected Puerto Rican government would like to do with their tax money. La Junta must be led by economists and financial experts that promise to put Puerto Rico’s long term interests’ first, not debt repayment. This includes honoring the retirements/ pensions and health care plans of their Puerto Rican workers and of current and future generations.

3) The US must grant Puerto Rico the right to restructure its debt as states have the right to do. The vulture capitalists that invested in junk bonds should not be rewarded on the backs of working Puerto Ricans.

4) Taxation without representation. The USA imposed a fiscal control board that supersedes the power of elected officials. They then implemented the highest sales tax of any state (10.5 to 11.5%). 6% of this goes to pay the mostly stateside Puerto Rico bondholders.

5) A voting black hole. The moment you move to Puerto Rico, you lose the right to vote in US elections. Even those that served 20 years in the US military. The only elected official that Puerto Rico has stateside is one non voting congressman. No senators. No Congress seats based on population.

The 23rd amendment to the US Constitution gave DC the right to an electoral vote for President. Puerto Rico does not have any vote, nor any electors.

6) Puerto Rico has voted twice to approve statehood, both in 2012 and 2017. The US Congress must take this up and move this forward. Puerto Rico cannot be ignored.