“Over 250 schools were closed in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. There was more damage in the south and west. There are still people with the blue covering on their roofs. Over 250,000 people left the island to go to the U.S., many were our professionals and bilingual people with a good education. People have been leaving for years. We were once five million and now we are three million. Some left their houses, cars, and everything behind. There were 3,000 deaths related to the hurricane. Many of the ones who stayed are the ones are elderly or couldn’t afford to leave. My wife didn’t want to leave.
It gets harder and harder to live in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico gets money for the U.S. federal government but it is slow. We have streets and roads full of holes. They are starting to repair them. We were six months without power, some people in the south were close to one year without electricity. With no power, everyone stayed outside their houses talking until it was time to go to sleep. We had a gas stove so we could cook. We made lines for water had to carry it with buckets. We felt like we were forgotten by the United States. It has gotten better, but jobs are a problem because some of the companies closed down. They are closing health departments and schools.I work for the school system and I am retiring from my job in December because things are going to get worse.
Puerto Ricans are citizens of the United States. We are a commonwealth territory. Right now there is a political situation of statehood. Trump says we are inept, lazy that we don’t care and don’t know how to manage. In part he is right, but in another part, he is not. Commonwealth, statehood, or independence, are our three options and we don’t agree. Most of the money that comes from the states is stolen from our corrupt government and doesn’t get to the people.
Our culture is from the Spanish but we are also assimilated to the American way. We are in a situation where we aren’t stable. We are in bankruptcy. They are trying to reduce the pensions of teachers and public servants. It gets harder and harder. It is also getting more dangerous to live here.”