Why is it so difficult to acknowledge the citizenship of Puerto Ricans? Does being U.S. territory mean nothing? There is no doubt that many want independence from the States whether it’s due to their lack of aid throughout the years or another reason. Before forming a concrete opinion, it’s essential to understand the history of my island and people. The Independence Movement has been around since 1898, after independence from the Spanish Empire was gained.
The United States has abused the islands resources for decades. Despite marches, posts through social media, and even the scarce news reports on the harsh realities of the government’s treatment, many Americans simply have chosen to devalue the issue by ignoring any needs Puerto Ricans may have. Now, it is important to note that many aim for independence rather than their current state of being proclaimed United States territory.
After the hurricane Maria hit, the “president” remained indifferent towards the island and its people. The joke of “aid” that was sent was delayed and minimal. The “president” took little account when it came to humanity; he was seen throwing “supplies” at citizens during an event. Lack of support is not a new occurrence — however, this in no way means it should be tolerated.
Colonization to gentrification. This is what every person of color has had to witness their people endure. There are many arguments both for and against this comparison and I am in no way condoning it or supporting it. It is well known that us Puerto Ricans are a proud peoples. We hold our culture and traditions dear to our hearts. Our goal is to keep said culture alive and well for generations to come. However, this remains difficult at times when deprivation of resources is amongst us.
LA Times published an opinion article on Trump and his actions towards PR. This, although an opinion piece, highlighted his nonchalant attitude and disinterest in sending proper aid. The article also discussed independence vs. statehood and what the people of the island have endured. It can be viewed here.
The Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, states that “all goods shipped within the United States to be carried on vessels owned, operated and built by Americans.” Furthermore, Chris Isidore of CNN notes that “those ships are far more expensive to buy and operate than ships flying foreign flags. As a result, it makes just about everything in Puerto Rico more expensive.”
Puerto Rico and its citizens are not seen as Americans despite being a part of the States for 120 years. Regardless of one side wanting independence and another wanting to remain as is, we are deserving of acknowledgment and proper treatment. This is expected not only from the government but from the people in the states. I and many others hope to see progress in the near future.