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Clemente Writings

Puerto Rico Not for Sale!

“President Donald Trump considered the idea of selling Puerto Rico in 2017 after the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria, the former acting Homeland Security secretary told The New York Times in an interview published Friday.” 
-CNN, July 12, 2020. 

You humiliated us by throwing paper towels at us to dry up when the island suffered devastation from Hurricane Maria. You blame us for what the island brought upon itself, but let’s talk about the golf course resort you built in the island. Then you defaulted on the payment, declared bankruptcy, and stuck the cost to the people. The king of bankruptcy is you, Mr. President.

How dare you mock the grief of a community that went through one of its harshest times? Many of us spent sleepless nights suffering, not knowing the whereabouts of our loved ones. Many of us were dying on a daily basis. You are treating us like second-class citizens, but we are Americans. Borinquen did not ask for the United States to invade us and win the war with Spain. Then Americans saw opportunities to benefit from our small island, with its big open ocean authority port, which makes it easy for trading.  

The United States sought profit from building five-star resorts along our crystal clear waters, and destroyed our beaches with military experimentation as in Vieques, giving many natives there cancer.  

We were also forced to take experimental drugs, including many who were forced while in jail, among them a leader for independence, Pedro Albizu Campus, who was beaten and treated inhumanely and forced to take injections. Our women were subject to forced sterilization in order to control the population, ranking Puerto Rico highest in the world for women being forced to become sterile or misled. But that was not enough. Our women were also the first to be forced to try birth control pills as experimentation. 

So, after we have been used and experimented on to benefit the rest of America, you think we can just easily be sold. On the contrary, we should be paid for years of abuse and neglect after being America’s experiments. It is no wonder we have the fifth largest pharmaceutical industry. It makes me wonder how many other experiments are going on now that Puerto Ricans are not aware about. We are in debt, but we make medication for one of the biggest industries in the world. We all know the cost of medicine is hefty, when we visit our pharmacy or we have to pay our not-so-cheap copayment.  

So how is it that a small island, completely surrounded by water as you mentioned, makes so much of the medication that we use on a daily basis? And how is it that the Americans who work in these factories are getting paid $6.55 an hour? This would not happen if these same Americans were working in the same factories on the mainland of the United States.

We Puerto Ricans have also fought for the American flag and we should be treated with the respect that we deserve. We should not be treated like second-class citizens and have paper towels thrown at us.

Alexandra Perez was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico, and raised in Boston. She has been working in the health care industry for seventeen years, working currently in one of the hospitals in the area. Her interest are poetry, photography, policy, and advocacy work.

We, Too, Are America is made possible through “Democracy and the Informed Citizen,” an initiative administered by the Federation of State Humanities Council through a grant from the Mellon Foundation.

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