FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 20, 2019
CONTACT: Erica Gonzalez
Washington, D.C. — Today, on the 18-month anniversary of Hurricane Maria hitting Puerto Rico— one of the deadliest hurricanes to impact the United States— the Power 4 Puerto Rico coalition released an open letter to all presidential candidates of both parties, urging them to support early on in their campaigns a comprehensive policy platform that addresses the most pressing issues facing the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. More than 30 local and national organizations have signed on to the letter, emphasizing solutions that would put Puerto Rico on a path to greater sustainability, self-reliance, and empowerment.
Puerto Ricans, who are U.S. citizens, are still recovering from devastating firsts —including the worst natural disaster and largest bankruptcy proceeding in U.S. history— a depressed economy, and imminent fiscal cliffs in public health, schooling and higher education, public pensions, and nutritional assistance. Many of these challenges are the result of artificial, arbitrary, and often discriminatory decisions made by the federal government in how it treats Puerto Rico. That’s why the Power 4 Puerto Rico coalition is urging presidential candidates to publicly and specifically state how they will take bold action to help deliver solutions for the island and displaced families.
The participants in the call said the following:
Chef José Andrés:
“There are many structural challenges that Puerto Rico faces that require presidential leadership to help the island rebuild and support its people with the tools to be the drivers of their own destiny," said Chef José Andrés. "To do business in Puerto Rico should not be more expensive than anywhere else in the United States or Caribbean. We need to make sure that Puerto Rico is exempted from the unfair Jones Act. And we want to hear what candidates have to say -sin pelos en la lengua- about what they are going to do for Puerto Rico."
Former U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador Mari Carmen Aponte:
"The 5-million-strong Puerto Rican Diaspora is standing up and saying 'basta ya.' For too long the myriad of issues facing our home island of Puerto Rico have been either relegated to the side or made even worse by federal policies that have hamstrung our development. Now is the time for presidential candidates of both parties to be on notice that if they want our vote, they need to demonstrate real commitment with action, not empty rhetoric.”
Luis A. Miranda, Jr., Chair, Latino Victory Project
“Latino Victory is honored to be a part of the Power4Puerto Rico coalition. For the past year, we’ve worked with a remarkable group of advocates who have fought tirelessly for our boricua brothers and sisters, including the Hispanic Federation and Alianza for Progress among other allies. As a Boricua myself, I was appalled by the Trump administration’s response to Hurricane Maria. The word ‘inhumane’ does not begin to describe the callousness and utter disregard for human life displayed by the administration. Lives were lost. Families mourned, on the island and the mainland. While we have made significant strides thanks to all of our hard work and the outpouring of support from our allies, we still have work to do. As we move forward with this election cycle, our candidates must show unequivocal support for the people of Puerto Rico, starting with those seeking to be the next President of the United States.”
Melissa Mark Viverito, Interim President, Latino Victory Project
“Latino Victory is committed to ensuring we do not lose the momentum of the 2018 cycle, and that our government and our elected officials are at the forefront when it comes to making sure that Puerto Rico is on a full path to recovery. Earlier this year, issued a call to all presidential candidates to make Puerto Rico a top priority early on in their campaigns and to visit the island. The 2020 election will determine the soul of our nation. Our presidential candidates must engage with the Puerto Rican community, and ensure that their well-being is a top priority. The open letter that we are releasing today takes this call to action one step further and issues a concrete blueprint for presidential candidates. It goes from a call to action to a plan of action, and we encourage all presidential candidates to adhere to this plan. Make no mistake: The road to the White House goes through the Latino community. Now more than ever we need to know who’s on our side and who will fight alongside us for what’s morally right.”
Erica González, Director, Power 4 Puerto Rico
"Power 4 Puerto Rico is launching this campaign and conversation today because we want to make sure that in this presidential cycle, the issues of Puerto Ricans are addressed – not with platitudes or vague language, but with specific and substantive action plans. Throughout this election cycle, we will be monitoring what the candidates say about Puerto Rico – or what they don’t. We will report back to the public periodically on where the presidential candidates stand."
Federico A. de Jesús, Senior Advisor, Power 4 Puerto Rico:
"Puerto Rico will not be able to fully recover and thrive without aggressive presidential leadership. The policy prescriptions unveiled today have the support of a broad cross section of Diaspora and allied organizations, who have come together to demand action. The U.S. government for decades has imposed inconsistent and often arbitrary decision on the Island, which have made life unduly difficult for residents of there. Now is the time for presidential candidates to not only show they care, but show us how they will act. Boricuas will remember who stood with us and who stood in the way for our home island to prosper.”
Marcos Vilar, Executive Director, Alianza for Progress/Florida:
“The Jones Act of 1920 is just one example of how Congress has imposed laws on the Puerto Rican people that stifle economic development. For 99 years now, this law has crippled the Puerto Rican economy. A recent study by John Dunham and Associates, concluded the Jones Act costs the Puerto Rican economy $1.5 billion a year, a loss of 13,250 jobs, $106 million in lost government revenues and which translates into an average $1,050 per year of increased prices for goods and services for each family!”
Frankie Miranda, Executive Vice President, Hispanic Federation
“Eighteen months after Hurricane Maria, our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico continue to struggle to rebuild their lives and economy, while the Trump administration fails to address one of the biggest natural disasters to hit the United States in our lifetime. The Power 4 Puerto Rico coalition urges Members of Congress to provide fair and equitable resources and distribution of committed relief funds to help American citizens in need. We ask that all presidential candidates pledge to champion the interests of Puerto Rico by joining us.”
BoricuActívate, active with Power4PR from its inception, added:
"Presidential candidates of both parties should be on notice that the more than 5 million Puerto Ricans in the Diaspora are U.S. citizens, are eligible to vote, and can make the difference in the 2020 elections. Any candidate who wants the Puerto Rican vote should support a comprehensive platform regarding the issues affecting the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and our Diaspora population in the continental US. More than 3,000 Puerto Ricans died as a result of Hurricane María and the disastrous federal response that followed. Now is the time to unite behind a comprehensive Marshall Plan to rebuild the Island, provide economic tools to overcome the crisis & address long-simmering structural challenges that Hurricanes Irma and María laid bare for all to see. Boricuas are united like never before and we deserve to hear detailed proposals to fulfill the federal government's duty towards Puerto Rico. Anything less would fall short of the moral responsibility our government owes the U.S. citizens of the Island," said the co-founders of BoricuActívate, Jennice Fuentes and Federico A. de Jesús.
ABOUT THE POWER 4 PUERTO RICO COALITION
Power 4 Puerto Rico is a coalition of organizations and leaders of the Puerto Rican Diaspora and allies advocating for the island and displaced families in the face of a disastrous and unjust federal response to the Hurricane Maria humanitarian crisis.
We focus full time on building pressure in Washington D.C. and throughout the nation for legislation and policies that will secure the well-being of Puerto Ricans and help facilitate a just, transparent and community-driven rebuilding process on the island. Power 4 Puerto Rico is demanding accountability for the thousands of lives lost, and the millions of lives still at stake.
The Latino Victory Project currently serves as our incubator and a platform for increasing awareness about our campaigns.