Puerto Rico has been a colony for well over 100 years. Puerto Ricans have American citizenship and has received benefits from the US federal government since the Luis Muñoz administration. Houses and roads were made and paved. Food stamps were given to all those who were deemed in necessity of it. Knowing all this, you’d think Puerto Rico has a lot to thank America for. But at what cost has this all come to?
Puerto Ricans worked for slave wages 50 years into the 20th century while our lands and properties were bought for dirt cheap only to be used to make big profits. The only rainforest “America” has was used to test out Agent Orange, given the tropical similarities el Yunque shared with Vietnams terrains. It’s people have been used as test subject for birth control and sterilization without their knowledge or consent. Puertoricans were conveniently granted citizenship just in time for WW1. Make no mistake that was no coincidence. Vieques, a small island that belongs to PR, was used for the U.S. Navys bomb testing for a little over 60 years. Although they were ordered to leave in 2003 during the Bush administration, there have been no repairs done to all the damage and ruin they left behind. Studies done in the last decade since their departure have shown significant rise in cancerous disease among its population, a considerable amount of radiation on its beaches and the danger the people of this small island still live in.
The U.S. has not proven to be the friendly ally it’s tried to disguise itself as. When Puerto Ricans wanted to make their island independent and free from its ties with the U.S. the American government stopped it. This is a part American history classes will leave out of their text books but a lot of lives were taken in the attempt of independence. The American government and FBI did everything in its power to crush any fighting spirit or hope for freedom when they arrested one of Puerto Ricos most illustrious minds and hero, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos. Not only was he arrested, but he was exposed to physical and mental torture in addition to being used as a test subject for full body radiation. Pedro Albizu Campos was the courageous man who dared to oppose the empire when they wanted to mute Puerto Ricos sense of patriotism and love for the island. Which if you didn’t know is officially known as La Ley de la Mordaza aka The gag law. Any one talking or singing about freedom, independence or was caught with a puertorican flag in their homes ran the risk of being arrested, imprisoned for up 10 years and being fined 10,000 dollars. Is this the freedom we were promised? Is this how you treat allies? Would this even be allowed to happen to American citizens on the mainland?
Puerto Rico did not ask for this. Puerto Rico did not beg the U.S. for help and rescue from the Spaniards who had previously colonized them. Puerto Rico lived as an independent island for a mere 8 days until the U.S. took Puerto Rico as war booty and told them this was for their own good and would only be temporary. Yet here we are, 2016, still living the colonial life and perpetuating colonialized minds. Wepa~
For too long have we been made to believe we are worthless as a nation, for too long have we been conditioned to believe that without the American government we would be nothing and that we’d all be planting yucas and shitting in letrinas if they were to ever leave. Yet decade after decade Puerto Rico has produced countless engineers, scientists, doctors, teachers, artists, writers, and entertainers that have contributed more to America than America ever gave us. I know there are those who will throw the issue of all the money the U.S. has given Puerto Rico, but we have given so much back that can’t be bought or measured by money. Puerto Ricans have contributed so much to a country who has taken so much from us, a country that expects us to go to war for them and spill our blood for their cause but will not even allow us the right to vote for a president whose influence can mean much for the future of our home. Puerto Rico has contributed a lot to a country who sneakily, and for reasons not yet revealed, took away our right to file for bankruptcy like any other state, in 1984.
But if you want to talk about numbers, let’s talk about numbers. In the last decade alone the amount of money that the U.S. government has given to P.R. for federal programs has steadily risen from 4 million to a little over 6 million. That is undoubtedly a great sum of money. But what the U.S. gets back in earnings is a far greater sum; the numbers may fluctuate from year to year but the reoccurring sum is that of about 70 million a year. Think about that for a second: 70 million dollars a year. Puerto Rico is not an island that lives off the government’s tit, despite what popular misinformed opinions may say.
And now in our time of need instead of at the very least granting us the opportunity to restructure our current debt, for which their hands are not entirely clean of, we are told a board of financial control has to be imposed. This board is not even in effect yet and already there are drafts that would lower the minimum wage of young workers from 7.25 dollars an hour to 4.25. Whose interest are they keeping in mind? How can we be in favor of a board that deems this part of a favorable and fair solution?
If you are reading this and you have made it this far, whether you’re Puerto Rican or not, if you sympathize and believe that Congress owes it to Puerto Rico to find a way to offer relief share this post. Let Congress know #PuertoRicoMatters. We’re not a foreign country in a faraway land; we are American citizens and we need help. Help us achieve #ReliefforPuertoRico.