Police Officer Accuses Puerto Rican Politicians of Withholding Relief Goods
UPDATE: The original in-studio video of the radio broadcast has been found and it is embedded farther down this page.
A sobbing woman claiming to be a police officer in Puerto Rico managed to call into a popular Spanish-language station in New York, alleging that *Boricuan politicians have been withholding Hurricane Maria relief supplies for political reasons.
* Boricua is a person of Puerto Rican heritage.
Among those she accused is the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto, more familiar to Americans as the bespectacled, cap-wearing mayor who found time to have a “We Are Dying” shirt printed, but did not have time to attend even a single FEMA meeting.
The radio station is La Mega 97.9 and the show’s hosts appear to be sympathetic to the caller’s desperation.
Upon being asked to give her name, she said she would rather not because of her job. She did identify herself as being located in Guaynabo, a small town in the northern part of Puerto Rico, located in the northern coast of the island. It is only about eight miles from San Juan, making it akin to a suburb of the capital city.
According to the policewoman, she and her colleagues have been told to limit rations to one box of water per person, and that the politicians keep waiting for photo-ops instead of tending to the immediate distribution of supplies. She had harsh words to say not only about the mayor, but the governor as well.
She asked for the U.S. armed forces to come in and take over the distribution of goods. It appears at the time of her call, FEMA and other relief workers from overseas had yet to venture out of the San Juan area because of safety concerns.
The caller says it took her about an hour and a half to download an app that allowed her to place the overseas call because she was prohibited from using the phone officially assigned to them. She says they have very little communication with the rest of the world, but they did hear that entertainment artists have been sending aid, and that the countries of Cuba and Venezuela had their offers of help rejected.
* About 90% of Puerto Rico’s cell sites were knocked out by Hurricane Maria.
Credence is being given to the authenticity of the call because instead of taking the side of a faction in Puerto Rico’s political mess, she was blaming all the major island officials, regardless of their party. And her mentioning that Cuban and Venezuelan aid had been rejected showed a lack of philosophical sophistication when it comes to discerning who’s who on the geopolitical chessboard. All she wanted was for the Americans troops to arrive asap.
* The massive Roosevelt Roads Navy base in Puerto Rico closed in 2004, leaving only a paltry American military presence at Buchanan station.
Here is the original in-studio video of the radio broadcast without English subtitles.
Below is just a few of the Spanish-language comments to the phone call. One woman says her sister is a paramedic in Moca, a town in the northwestern part of Puerto Rico, and she has been saying things in the same vein — relief goods are not being distributed outside the metropolitan area, despite the roads being open.
Puerto Rico was seized by U.S. troops during the Spanish-American War in 1898. The island is currently a Commonwealth that has had several referendums for residents to vote on U.S. statehood or outright independence. The people chose commonwealth status, with the benefit of not having to pay federal income tax.
The governor of Puerto Rico is Ricardo Rosselló, president of the New Progressive Party, known for advocating STATEHOOD for the island. He graduated from MIT with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering and economics and later graduated from the University of Michigan with a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering.
A Democrat, he was a Clinton delegate to the 2008 nominating convention and an Obama delegate to the 2012 convention. In 2008, he had a key role in Hillary Clinton’s get-out-the-vote efforts for the Puerto Rico presidential primary, appearing in her final TV ad. Clinton won the primary by a 68-32% margin.
He was elected governor in 2016 and assumed office in January this year. He is 38 years old.
Mayor of San Juan since 2013, Carmen Yulín is aligned wth the Popular Democratic Party, which advocates for maintaining the current political status of Puerto Rico as that of an unincorporated territory with SELF-GOVERNMENT. Cruz earned her Bachelor of Arts in political science from Boston University, graduating Magna Cum Laude. She completed a Master of Science in public management and policy at Carnegie Mellon University. She is 54 years old.
Puerto Ricans have been U.S. citizens since 1917, under the Jones Act; however, they cannot vote for a U.S. president.
Boricuan voters can participate in the primaries, but they cannot vote for president in the general election.
In 2016, 75% of Puerto Ricans voted for Marco Rubio in the Republican primary (and nearly 14% for Donald Trump) versus Hillary Clinton’s 61% of the Democratic vote.
The economy in Puerto Rico is in very bad shape, with the commonwealth declaring bankruptcy in May after having already defaulted a few times before. Previously, Detroit’s was the largest filing by a municipality in American history, owing about $18 billion. Puerto Rico now holds that record, owing its creditors $73 billion.
Unemployment is close to 12% this year. Almost half the population is living below the poverty level.
In the year 2015 alone, about 90,000 Puerto Ricans left their island to move to the U.S. mainland. The remaining population is approximately 3.5 million.
Here is the mayor of Guaynabo during the earlier hurricane, Irma.
Additional information to be added to this page.
Meanwhile, a throwback to when the mayor said San Juan was ready for Hurricane Irma.