Presidential Candidates Put On Notice by More Than 50 Puerto Rican and Allied Groups Demanding Action for Puerto Rico

Jun 7, 2019
12:36 PM
Originally published at Power 4 Puerto Rico

WASHINGTON, DC — Power 4 Puerto Rico, a coalition of diaspora leaders and allies advocating for the island and displaced families, today announced the latest round of organizations and leaders to join the call for all presidential candidates to present comprehensive policies that respond to the needs of the island and its displaced families.

On March 20, an open letter and policy blueprint signed by 36 local and national organizations was released as the start of an extended campaign to ensure that the issues affecting Puerto Rico pre and post Hurricane Maria are concretely addressed by candidates of all parties. In the coming weeks, Power 4 Puerto Rico will share what the candidates have said —or not— about how they would help the island.

“This presidential campaign cycle, it won’t be enough for the candidates to talk about President Trump’s failed response to Puerto Rico,” said Erica González, Director of Power for Puerto Rico. “The Puerto Rican community and allies are not going to accept photo opps and platitudes as a substitute for concrete action plans that all of the candidates should present. As the candidates head into debates, we’re putting all of them on notice.”

“This weekend we will march on 5th Avenue with hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans who are tired of empty gestures towards our loved ones on the island. For too long, candidates of both parties have ignored the structural problems underlying Puerto Rico’s multiple crises and how federal policies have played a role in exacerbating the Island’s challenges. Boricuas are demanding action and need to hear the specific commitments the next president of the United States will take to finally treat Puerto Rico with the dignity and fairness its people deserve,” said Federico A. de Jesús, Senior Advisor for the Power 4 Puerto Rico coalition.

The following co-signers of the open letter issued the following statements:

“We are proud to stand with our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters as they claim their right to recovery, dignity, and self-determination. The botched disaster response to Hurricane Maria was emblematic of the federal government’s ongoing and widespread neglect and mistreatment of U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico. This dismal dereliction of duty must not be allowed to continue. The National Urban League demands genuine commitment, specific policy prescriptions, and, ultimately, concrete results from anyone who seeks to assume the Presidency of the United States,” said Marc Morial, President, National Urban League.

”The environmental, economic, and health costs these American families are facing due to federal neglect and incompetence are unacceptable. As an organization committed to those on the front lines of the Trump administration’s attacks, we expect all candidates to put forward serious, comprehensive policy platforms to support millions of Puerto Ricans and their communities,” said Federal Endorsements Manager Allison Pulliam, MoveOn Political Action.

“Our fight for Puerto Rico’s recovery has reached a significant momentum, and as we inch closer to the 2020 Elections, we must ensure that each presidential candidate makes Puerto Rico a top priority. The road to the White House will undoubtedly go through the Latino community, and this includes the millions of Puerto Ricans who are living in the mainland and who are cognizant of the candidates’ policy platforms. The bottom line is simple: If presidential candidates want to court the prized Boricua vote, their platform must include specific policy issues to address Puerto Rico’s recovery,” said Melissa Mark-Viverito, Interim President, Latino Victory Project.

“Chi Upsilon Sigma recognizes the issues facing the people of Puerto Rico are nothing less than an emergency. Now is the time to demand a path forward for the island that is sustainable, responsible, and inclusive. We join Power 4 Puerto Rico and other allies in this call for justice,” said Lauren Quinones, Director of External Affairs, Chi Upsilon Sigma.

“The next president can no longer turn her or his back on the American citizens of Puerto Rico. We will be judging each candidate on his/her proposal to have a permanent fix of the discriminatory and unequal Medicaid and Medicare funding for Puerto Rico.  And very much, what they are doing NOW to prevent the upcoming “Medicaid cliff” which, if is not funded by the end of 2019, may result in 600,000 Puerto Ricans become uninsured overnight,” said Dr. Jaime R. Torres, President, Latinos for Healthcare Equity.

“On behalf of NACOPRW, we support Power 4 Puerto Rico’s efforts to impress upon presidential candidates of all parties the need for them to show us how they will specifically address the economic concerns of Puerto Rico and commit to taking decisive action to solve the island’s long simmering crises,” said Vilma Colón, President, National Conference of Puerto Rican Women, Inc.

Among the top priority issues mentioned in the letter are:

  • A Marshall Plan-type mobilization to fully rebuild and recover after Hurricanes Irma and Maria
  • Full participation of Island residents in critical federal anti-poverty programs such as: Medicaid, Child Tax Credit (CTC), Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), SNAP
  • Economic tools such as: Jones Act exemption for the Island, Fix how federal tax reform law treats the Island and provide tax incentives for job creation, along with improved labor standards, Significant public debt relief
  • 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
  • Ensure the environmental decontamination and health care remediation by the federal government and address the dire transportation situation in the island municipalities of Vieques and Culebra