Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, marks the one year anniversary of Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm that completely devastated Puerto Rico in 2017. While many people are taking to Twitter to honor the communities still recovering from this tragedy, Ricardo Rosselló's letter to Donald Trump is a not-so friendly reminder that Puerto Ricans deserve better. Read it and weep, Mr. Trump.
On Wednesday, Sept. 19, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló sent a lengthy letter to Donald Trump discussing the "discrimination and unequal treatment" Puerto Rican residents face compared to other U.S. born citizens. The letter was sent to the Trump administration the day before the one year anniversary of Hurricane Maria's arrival, and Rosselló stated in the letter that witnessing the minimal relief efforts to assist Puerto Rico was a reminder of the inequalities the island's residents still face to this day.
A part of the letter read,
As we revisit all that we have been through in the last year, one thing has not changed and remains the biggest impediment for Puerto Rico’s full and prosperous recovery: the inequalities Puerto Rico faces as the oldest, most populous colony in the world.
In the letter, Rosselló expressed frustration about the island's status as a colonial territory and its lack of representation in government, including the fact that despite being natural born U.S. citizens, Puerto Rican residents aren't able to vote for the president unless they relocate to the mainland.
"The only way for U.S. citizens from Puerto Rico to vote in such an election and be counted is to leave Puerto Rico. If that is not a ban, then what is?" Rosselló wrote.
He finishes his letter by urging Trump to consider granting Puerto Rico statehood in an attempt to "realize Puerto Rico's full potential," per Rosselló's letter. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment on or response to Roselló's letter, but did not immediately hear back.
Fighting for statehood was one of the key aspects of Rosselló's gubernatorial campaign, and this letter is proof that he's ready to stand up and fight for his people. In the letter, Rosselló notes that a lot of Puerto Rican residents actually support statehood, but the votes had not been deemed official by the Department of Justice (DOJ). According to The Hill, 97 percent of voters voted in support of statehood while taking part in a referendum on the subject in 2017, although the publication also notes that the non-binding referendum vote only had 23 percent turnout.
Judging from the serious tone in Rosselló's letter, I doubt this is the last Trump will hear on the issue. In May, Rosselló sat down with TIME to discuss the Trump administration's efforts to help Puerto Rico post-Hurricane Maria, and although he didn't completely criticize Trump, there's definitely a sense that more work could have been done.
"There have been some things I’ve been very happy with and some things that I haven’t," he said at the time. "We’re all going to be evaluated on how this ends up."
Rosselló's letter is not only a nod towards Hurricane Maria, but it's a reminder that Puerto Rican residents are U.S. citizens just like the rest of us. Hopefully Trump will take this letter to heart.