WASHINGTON DC.- From Nevada to Minneapolis to New Jersey, the Puerto Rican diaspora and allies are showing up in person or virtually to presidential campaign offices to raise the volume on the ongoing #ShowUsYourPRPolicy campaign, which is backed by more than 60 local and national organizations pressing the presidential hopefuls to present comprehensive plans for addressing the ongoing humanitarian and economic crisis in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.
Most of the actions are taking place this morning Friday, September 20th, 2019, in front of the campaign headquarters and offices of presidential candidates, to mark the second anniversary of Hurricane Maria’s devastating impact on the island. Each group, holding “Show us Your Puerto Policy!” signs, will present a customized letter to each candidate, reflecting that the Puerto Rican community is monitoring what they are putting forth, or not.
“For over 120 years, Puerto Rico has been under the U.S. flag without any clear, comprehensive policy platforms that truly support the aspirations and vision of the people of Puerto Rico,” said Erica González, Director of the Power 4 Puerto Rico coalition, which initiated today’s actions. “As the impact of Hurricane Maria combined with 10+ years of economic recession has caused a catastrophic crisis that had led to the displacement of thousands of families, it is urgent that presidential candidates start seriously outlining their policies for the island. It is not enough to simply criticize President Trump.”
Puerto Rico, a U.S. colony, was hit by category-4 Hurricane Maria on September 20th, 2017. The storm caused the virtual destruction of the island where 3 million people, U.S. citizens and residents alike, suffered the longest blackout in modern history and where over 3,000 died during a botched federal response. Since then, Puerto Ricans and advocates continue to fight the stonewalling of recovery and rebuilding funds by a hostile presidential administration.
The morning actions are building around 9:20am in every time zone to observe a moment of silence in memory of those who perished during the storm and its aftermath, due to lack of drinking water, electricity, healthcare access and other life-threatening situations. The organizations participating today are Power 4 Puerto Rico, Collective Action for Puerto Rico, Puerto Ricans in Minnesota Committee, CASA in Action, Boricuas Unidos en la Diaspora, Faith in Action, Make The Road Nevada, Alianza for Progress, the Puerto Rican Agenda of Chicago, and Positive Workforce.
Throughout this electoral cycle, participating organizations and advocates will stress to presidential candidates that if they wish to earn the vote of the Puerto Rican community, they must present concrete plans to address long-standing issues, including full participation of Island residents in critical federal anti-poverty programs such as Medicaid, Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC); economic tools such as Jones Act exemption; federal tax reform and incentives for job creation, along with improved labor standards; debt relief; and the recognition of the right to self-determination of the Puerto Rican people along with a permanent and self-sustained, inclusive, fair and transparent process to end 121 years of U.S. colonialism in Puerto Rico
The “show-up” actions today are part of the ongoing #ShowUsYourPRPolicy campaign that will target all presidential candidates of both parties. The campaign, backed by more than 60 organizations, was launched in March with the release of an open letter and policy blueprint to all presidential candidates.
“Through this action, we seek to remind ALL presidential candidates that it is a moral imperative to have a policy for United States citizens of Puerto Rico. Silence and inaction are no longer an option. Lives are at stake,” said Rev. Dr. Damaris D. Whittaker, Senior Minister at the Fort Washington Collegiate Church, and representative of the Collective Action for Puerto Rico.
Javier Aldamez, from CASA in Action Pennsylvania, said: “The time has come for candidates to show us a real solution to the Puerto Rican crisis. It will not be enough to criticize the Trump Administration without offering a solid plan. Through this action nationwide, we are raising the volume on #ShowUsYourPRPolicy. Puerto Ricans across the nation are paying attention. Our island needs a path to greater sustainability, self reliance, and empowerment.”
Edil Sepulveda, Co-founder of Boricuas Unidos en la Diaspora, said: “These are times for action. Puerto Ricans are tired of politicians’ pandering on our issues without actually taking any concrete steps to address them. We’re here to change that and to join-in together with our allies and neighbors to demand from the presidential candidates viable solutions that acknowledge our communities, accountability and, most importantly, respect.”
“Make The Road Action NV stands in solidarity with the over 17,000 Puerto Ricans that call Nevada home. Today we commemorate 2 years since the devastation of hurricane Maria that displaced thousands of families. Nevada is the 3rd state in the presidential primaries, we will continue to ensure all presidential candidates propose a clear plan and solutions to bring justice to Puerto Rico its people, wherever they call home today,” said LaLo Montoya, Political Director at Make The Road Action Nevada.
Marcos Vilar, of Alianza for Progress, said: “We call out to the Democratic Presidential hopefuls to #ShowUsYourPRpolicy and go beyond criticizing Trump. Boricuas expect to hear your solutions to the debt crisis, post maria reconstruction, economic development for the island and self-determination. Boricua voters in Florida will be motivated by your proposed solutions for Puerto Rico and our communities across the state.”
This week there has been a series of events highlighting the 2nd Anniversary of Hurricane Maria and raising awareness of the urgent need to support and strengthen the rebuilding of Puerto Rico. Earlier this week, Power4PR held a congressional briefing in Washington that featured Grammy-winning singer iLe, and this Saturday, delegations will attend a march in Philadelphia, and a prayer service in Orlando, FL. More events have been scheduled across the USA by other community organizations.