Our Responsibility



Tatiana Uribe, Assistant Editor-In-Chief

Although Puerto Rico has been a part of our country for over 120 years, many are unaware of the fact that all Puerto Ricans are U.S. Citizens.

However, their state of citizenship is not parallel to what someone born or naturalized to the mainland (the rest of the United States) would experience. Their treatment is that of a second-class citizen.

“Well they do not have the same compact that the rest of the citizens of the United States have, at first they weren’t even kind of considered citizens,” says Robert Allen, 12th grade Government and Economics teacher and former World History teacher at Da Vinci Communications High School. “So they’re kind of second-class citizens because they don’t really have full congressmen and they don’t have electoral college votes.”

Puerto Rico’s place in the United States came from a need for natural resources and military strategy when it was first acquired from Spain during the Spanish American war. The wants of the residents of Puerto Rico were never taken into consideration.  

“Obviously they wanted the support of the people that would become their possessions but they did not consider that they considered their military means,” says Allen of the Federal Government’s agenda in acquiring Puerto Rico.

After the devastation caused by hurricane Maria on the island, the question on many people’s minds is how much responsibility we have to help our citizens rebuild.

To me, the answer to that question is simple: the same amount of responsibility we owe any of our other citizens.

Apparently, this is not a sentiment that everyone can agree with though. Especially not our current administration.

It’s horrifying to me that a natural disaster such as Maria could wreak havoc on an island, endanger thousands of lives and totally devastate a major population. Meanwhile, it takes the leader of that land days to respond to such a tragedy.

Yet he has time to go on Twitter and rant about NFL players taking a knee.

So why is it that the Trump administration has been dragging their feet when it comes to addressing and helping Puerto Rico? Of course, the racial aspect of the issue comes into play, as little as we all want to acknowledge it.

When a tragedy like the Las Vegas shooting occurs and victimizes white citizens, Donald can come out with a heartfelt response literally the next morning, but when a disaster like Maria happens and it endangers black and brown citizens of our country his response is lukewarm at best.

Even worse, his statements have since continued to blame Puerto Rico for their own problems and imply that they do not deserve our full support after the devastation.

This is not acceptable and we should encourage discussions about these issues, otherwise, we are implying that we tolerate inequality as part of the routine in this country.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I am not okay with this sentiment representing our ideals.

The destruction in Puerto Rico is not solely the island’s problem, it affects all of us, whether through family members, friends, or any other personal connections.

That’s why Da Vinci’s Latinx Student Union, La Fuerza, organized an esquite sale whose profits would go to donating to relief for Mexico after the intense earthquake that occurred on September 19th and to Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria. To make the effort to help the real people suffering through this tragedy that others in higher places in this country don’t seem to want to.

Even if the people in the White House don’t make it obvious that they care about the needs of Puerto Rico, as citizens, it’s our duty and responsibility to display solidarity for our fellow citizens in need. No matter their color.