President of puerto rico: Who Is the President of Puerto Rico?

Who Is the President of Puerto Rico?

by pr51st

on December 30, 2019

One of the most common questions people ask us is, “Who is the President of Puerto Rico?”

Joe Biden is the President of Puerto Rico right now, just as he is the President of Delaware and Idaho. Since Puerto Rico is a territory under the sovereignty of and belonging to the United States, the President of the United States is also the President of Puerto Rico.

We can’t vote for our president

It’s a confusing issue for many people, though, because people living in Puerto Rico cannot vote in presidential elections. So as our nation’s Chief Executive whoever is President executes federal law which applies in the territory, but he exercises power over people unable to give or withhold consent to his presidency.

The U.S. doesn’t have a simple, direct presidential vote. Instead, citizens in each state vote for President, but the vote determines which candidate later will be chosen by Electors representing the state. Electors from every state go after the election and vote in the Electoral College to formally and legally elect the President.

Usually, the members from each state vote for the candidate who won the most votes in that state. Some states don’t require that. The Constitution was amended to allow Washington, D.C. to send an Elector to the Electoral College, even though citizens in the nation’s capital do not have voting representation in Congress.

In other words, the people of the United States do not vote for the president as a right of national citizenship. It’s really the people of the states that vote for the president as a right of state citizenship.

States get to vote for the president

Only states get to send Presidential Electors to represent the state in the Electoral College. That means that Puerto Rico has no representatives there, and so the people living in Puerto Rico cannot vote for their President.  This is true whether they were born in Puerto Rico or in a State.

Even U.S. citizens from Puerto Rico who have lived and voted in a state in the past can’t vote when they go back to Puerto Rico.  Worse yet, federal law allows citizens who live in foreign countries to vote absentee in their last state of legal residence, but denies that right to U.S. citizens who change their legal residence from a state to Puerto Rico. That is even true for the U.S. military, so that when active duty soldiers and sailors and veterans have Puerto Rico as their legal residence they can’t vote for the Commander in Chief.

All citizens who live in states can vote in presidential elections. That’s true whether they were born in Puerto Rico or in a state. Being a U.S. citizen in Puerto Rico means you must abandon Puerto Rico and move to a state if you want to have equal voting rights.

In America freedom means being able to live where you want. Being forced to relocate just to have equal civil rights is a coercive form of duress, not a voluntary choice. In communist and fascist dictatorships people need the government’s permission to live, have a job and enjoy whatever freedom is allowed.  In the land of the free, where you live should not determine your rights.

Today 3.2 million U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico cannot vote for their president.  The solution is simple: as soon as Puerto Rico becomes the 51st state, the people of Puerto Rico will be able to vote in presidential elections.

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Biden shows Puerto Rico he cares. It may not be enough.

“People are angry. People are hurt,” said Gina DeJesus, an organizer with the activist group New York Communities for Change who is in Puerto Rico. She noted that blocks away from the Port of Ponce, where Biden met with families hit last month by Hurricane Fiona, people are using one generator to power four homes. Fewer than 10 percent of customers in the municipality of Ponce still lack electricity more than two weeks after the hurricane, but power remains unsteady throughout the island.

Still, she said she was “thankful the president came and made time in his schedule to see what’s actually happening” on the island.

Frankie Miranda, president and CEO of the Hispanic Federation, which co-hosted Biden’s conversation with community leaders, said people had “enormous expectations” for the president’s visit.

The conversation focused in large part on removing barriers that are preventing the island from receiving billions of federal dollars for projects such as restoring the electric grid, and the need to make the island’s power system more resistant to future storm disruptions. The latter topic includes proposals to expand solar power, which would lessen reliance on fossil fuel-burning power plants at the island’s south end.

“We cannot find solutions to complex problems in 20 minutes or less,” Miranda said, referring to the time limit on the conversation with the president.

But he called the president’s visit an “incredible success” because Biden carved out time to talk to experts on these subjects. The president also made a commitment to Puerto Rico’s recovery that his administration followed up on Tuesday morning.

During his appearance Monday, he called the damage from yet another hurricane five years after Maria “an all-too-familiar nightmare.”

“Puerto Rico is a strong place, and Puerto Ricans are strong people,” Biden said. “But even so, you have had to bear so much and more than need be, and you haven’t gotten the help in a timely way.”

A White House spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment on follow-up questions about the president’s visit.

Biden’s trip came after Puerto Rican advocates expressed worries that the island’s suffering would fade from the minds of federal leaders and the national news media, especially after Hurricane Ian made its devastating landfall in Florida on Sept. 28.

Hurricane Fiona’s official death toll on the island stands at 29 people, of which 22 were 65 years or older. But experts fear the death toll could be far higher, especially because some of the most devastated regions remain difficult or impossible to reach because of washed-away roads, mudslides and power outages.

The Puerto Rican government initially said 64 people died due to Hurricane Maria five years ago, but later research attributed an estimated 2,975 deaths to damage the storm caused, including to the island’s power grid and health-care infrastructure.

Now, community leaders want Biden’s administration and Congress to dissolve the federally appointed fiscal oversight board that controls the island’s finances, which was created under a law signed by former President Barack Obama.

They also want to repeal a decades-old shipping statute that they say discriminates against island residents, and cancel a contract awarded in 2020 to the company that manages the territory’s power supply. That company has struggled to provide reliable electrical service.

The federal government could immediately help the situation on the ground by granting Gov. Pedro Pierluisi’s request for Washington to cover the full costs of Puerto Rico’s emergency response, debris removal and other recovery actions for 180 days. Biden has committed to 30 days.

“There are many different barriers and conditions that prevent Puerto Rico from being able to access some of these funds,” Miranda said. He noted that the financial woes of the Puerto Rican government would prevent it from sharing those costs with the federal government, as is normally required under disaster declarations.

The president acknowledged the challenges in his remarks, noting that some residents have been living without power and water and have “no idea when it’ll be back again.”

Biden said Monday that he asked Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm to lead “a supercharged effort” across the federal government, including a team that would use federal resources, technical assistance and additional support to build a more resilient power grid for Puerto Rico.

A house lies in the mud after it was washed away by Hurricane Fiona at Villa Esperanza in Salinas, Puerto Rico, on Sept. 21, 2022.
|
Alejandro Granadillo/AP Photo

This effort would include so-called mini grids that provide power over a limited geographic area, reducing dependence on long-distance transmission lines. The advocates in the room with Biden emphasized the need to “decentralize energy in Puerto Rico” and directly asked the president for the administration to examine ways to expand rooftop solar on the island, Miranda said.

The Queremos Sol coalition — whose name means “We Want Solar” — released an open letter before the meeting asking the president to require the Federal Emergency Management Agency to make it a priority to fund locally based renewable-energy projects, such as rooftop solar systems and batteries, rather than fossil fuel projects. They also asked the president to require the agency to distribute funds in ways that comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, one of the United States’ bedrock environmental laws, as well as Biden’s January 2021 executive order on climate action.

FEMA has $9.5 billion set aside for reconstruction and recovery of the electric grid after it was battered by Hurricane Maria. Other pots of money may be available to the island from last year’s bipartisan infrastructure law and other initiatives.

The president expressed during the meeting “that he is a believer” in renewable energy, Miranda said.

“This is a once in a generation opportunity to do this,” Miranda said. “If we don’t rebuild the right way, we won’t have this opportunity to do it until decades in the future.”

But November will bring a major test for the future of the island’s energy system, as it could see the termination of the private contractor’s control of the grid — not just due to the length of Fiona-related outages but also because of continuing power failures in the 17 months since it took over. Island residents have been pushing Puerto Rico officials and the regulators overseeing the company to take that action.

Puerto Rico residents have directed their anger for months at Pierluisi, a member of the island’s New Progressive Party, who called the system “stable” in an interview with POLITICO earlier this year. They’ve also expressed ire at LUMA Energy, the private entity that took over management of the electric grid in June 2021.

Cars drive through road PR-303 after Hurricane Fiona on September 20, 2022, in Lajas, Puerto Rico.
|
Jose Jimenez/Getty Images

A protest against LUMA in August led to a clash where police pepper-sprayed demonstrators and journalists near the governor’s residence.

The LUMA contract “shouldn’t have happened,” said Karina Claudio Betancourt, director of the Open Society Foundation’s $20 million post-Hurricane Maria project in Puerto Rico. “It has taken away the power of our community to be able to control a utility that is so important and life saving and essential for our lives.”

Lawrence Kazmierski, LUMA’s emergency operations center incident commander and senior vice president of operations, attended the Monday event at the Port of Ponce with the president. The company expressed gratitude to the president and his administration, including FEMA and the Department of Energy for “their continued federal cooperation, support and the importance they have placed on helping Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Fiona.

LUMA also noted that more than 90 percent of customers have been restored, compared with customers going without power for nearly a year after Maria.

The grid’s struggles go back years, stemming partly from under-investment in basic maintenance by the bankrupt, government-owned Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, as well as the slow flow of the billions of dollars in federal disaster aid.

“It would be great if after five years they actually started working on the grid and investigate LUMA,” DeJesus said.

House Natural Resources Chair Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) believes the privatization of PREPA’s transmission and distribution operations and LUMA’s contract “haven’t worked,” a committee spokesperson said Tuesday. The committee had scheduled oversight hearings that were postponed because of Fiona’s ongoing impact on the island.

The predominantly Spanish-speaking island’s problems are rooted in its status as a U.S. territory with no voting representation in Congress and no electoral votes for the presidency, advocates say.

“Until we can find a way to resolve our relationship with the U.S. … we won’t be able to thrive as a people,” Claudio Betancourt said.

Don’t Need Your Own: Will Puerto Rico Become the 51st US State | Articles

On November 3, the day of the US presidential election, Puerto Rico, a territory administered by the States but not considered an integral part of it, also votes . But not for Joe Biden or Donald Trump (the islanders, with the exception of those who moved to the mainland, do not have the right to vote in the choice of the US president), but for whether or not to be the 51st state of America . Over the past decade, this is the third referendum on the status of the Caribbean island. And although before most of Puerto Rico has already spoken out in favor of full-fledged entry into the United States, there are a considerable number of opponents of such a step in the state. Neither are the current authorities in Washington DC . What are the reasons «for» and «against» each of the parties and what it will lead to — in the material of «Izvestia».

Together and apart

All residents of Puerto Rico received the right to be considered US citizens in 1917. But since then, this citizenship has remained somewhat inferior : deducting federal taxes on social security and medical care, Puerto Ricans have not been able to choose the president of the States and have their representatives in Congress, with the exception of just one non-voting member in the House of Representatives. On the other hand, under the formal supremacy of the United States, the territory retained its own constitution, legislative, executive and judicial branches of government and the ability to maintain Spanish as the state language.

Such a shaky balance, laid down by the fact that Puerto Rico is officially under the control of the United States, but is not considered an integral part of them, has long unnerved the islanders. Some longed for independence, others dreamed of becoming the 51st state of the United States. Since 1967, five referendums have been held in the state on the political structure of the territory. And in 2012, a majority of Puerto Ricans (over 61%) voted in favor of becoming a state for the first time. In 2017, the idea of ​​joining the United States was supported by a record 97% of voters , however, with an equally record low turnout of 23% due to the boycott of the opposition.

But since the results of such plebiscites were non-binding , the US Congress, which has a decisive say in the fate of Puerto Rico, simply silently ignored the aspirations of the islanders.

You don’t need your own_1

Puerto Rico Congress Building in San Juan

Photo: Global Look Press/Katja Kreder

On November 3, 2020, the day of the American presidential election, the territory decided to remind itself again. On this day, another referendum was held on the island on the issue of joining the United States. and to make life easier for voters, the ballot left only one question: should Puerto Rico be admitted to the US immediately as a state.

— According to the latest polls, there is an almost even split between those who are in favor of becoming a state and those who are against it. Those who have advocated joining the United States for the past 100 years have put forward several demands: in particular, the implementation of American democracy through full integration and economic parity with other states when it comes to funding and economic advantages, an expert from the Center for Latin American Studies explained to Izvestia. University of Florida Carlos Suarez.

The US membership movement can be seen as a matter of both economic rationality and political equality, agreed Maira Vélez Serrano, professor of political science at the University of Puerto Rico.

Puerto Ricans as American citizens have served in all wars in which the US has been involved since 1917, but do not have the same political rights as Americans in the other 50 states . It is also a matter of expanding access to resources that can help develop the economy. Thus, supporters of such a step consider it through the prism of economics and morality, the expert explained to Izvestia.

I don’t feel like it and it hurts

The name Puerto Rico came to the island from the Spanish colonialists, who dubbed these lands a «rich port». In the current reality, this area is one of the poorest lands administered by US . According to the latest American census, the island’s poverty rate is 44%, and unemployment is 2.5 times higher than the national average. And from the very beginning of his presidency, Donald Trump has repeatedly made it clear that Puerto Rico is a burden on the federal budget.

In 2017, after the powerful Hurricane Maria left the territory without electricity and telephone service for many months, the US President visiting Puerto Rico announced that he would not allocate any additional money for its restoration . Because, they say, no matter how much you give, everything will be stolen. And under the same pretext, a year later, he ordered to cut the fund for helping the island.

You don’t need your own_2

Photo: Global Look Press/Steve Sanchez

In the summer of this year, another unconfirmed, but extremely revealing story surfaced in the media. According to ex-employee of the US Department of Homeland Security Miles Taylor, two years ago Trump was interested in the possibility of exchanging «dirty» and «poor» Puerto Rico for Greenland, which is part of Denmark.

However, with the presidential election approaching, Trump turned his anger to mercy, apparently remembering that 5.6 million Puerto Ricans live on the American mainland and already have the right to vote, in contrast to the 3.1 million who remain in their homeland . In October, the White House announced a record $13 billion aid package for Puerto Rico to rebuild from Hurricane Maria. And at a campaign rally in Florida, home to over a million Puerto Ricans, the president presumptuously called himself «the best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico,» calling for him to vote on November 3rd.

And the Democrats are not against

At the same time, the current head of the White House expressed «an absolute no» to the idea of ​​making Puerto Rico a state. Unlike Democratic challenger Joe Biden , who said in September that it «would be the most effective means of ensuring equal treatment for the people of Puerto Rico, equal representation at the federal level.»

As Carlos Suarez explained, in recent years, many Democrats have become openly in favor of the inclusion of Puerto Rico in the United States, based on the understanding that this territory will be inclined in favor of the “donkey party”, which means it will give more electoral college votes. According to a number of estimates, the admission of Puerto Rico and Washington, DC, also currently vying for separate state status, will give the Democrats an additional four seats in the US Senate.

— Other factors may be the significant success of Puerto Ricans in the US (eg Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor). In addition, Puerto Ricans are increasingly present in swing states like Florida, and finally, some progressive elements of the party think that making the territory a state is a way to reparate Puerto Rico after more than a century of colonial conversion, the expert noted.

You don’t need your own_3

Photo: TASS/EPA/THAIS LLORCA

However, not everyone is waiting for such «reparations», they are afraid of losing their national identity with joining the US.

— First of all, will endanger the Spanish language, no one in Washington will allow us to keep it as a state language. We will even have to say goodbye to the Miss Universe contest (local beauties do not participate in it like Americans. — Izvestia). We will simply become the same state as the other 50,” Maya Rodriguez, a resident of the capital San Juan, shared her concerns with Izvestia.

However, some of these fears are premature. According to political scientist Maira Vélez Serrano, even if the Democrats control the Senate and the House of Representatives, it is highly unlikely that the statehood issue for Puerto Rico will be approved.

Unfortunately, our referendum has moral weight, but no legal force to force Washington to accept Puerto Rico. And Joe Biden is not the first presidential candidate to promise to solve Puerto Rico’s colonial status, only to ignore it later while in power.0004, she remarked.

In the year of the pandemic, such skepticism is more than justified. With the economic woes caused by the coronavirus, even the most optimistic supporters of the admission of Puerto Rico understand that this topic will definitely not be the first priority of the US president, whoever it is.

The governor of Puerto Rico declared his desire to become part of the USA

04/18/2022 [11:31]

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Washington, April 18, AZERTAC

Puerto Rico will aspire to become a US state.

As reported by AZERTAC with reference to the American media, this was stated by the governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi, in an interview with the Spanish newspaper La Razón. «I have no doubt that Puerto Rico will become a US state and that we will be able to vote for the president and have representation in Congress,» he said. The Governor added that the people of Puerto Rico have made it clear that they are committed to this, and the struggle to achieve that goal continues.

According to P. Pierluisi, the Spanish language, which is one of the official languages ​​in the territory of Puerto Rico, as well as the culture, customs and the Spanish-speaking heritage of the people, are not at risk as a result of such a step.

AZERTAC Washington Bureau

AZERTAG.AZ : Governor of Puerto Rico declared his desire to become part of the United States

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