“I ask all Puerto Ricans who are listening to go vote,” Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced (R) said in an interview on Telemundo. “Use your vote and evaluate who represents and thinks about Puerto Ricans in their most difficult time,” Vázquez Garced said. “It is Donald Trump.”
In Puerto Rico, residents aren’t allowed to vote in the presidential election. But as U.S. citizens, they’re eligible to vote in U.S. elections once they become mainland residents.
In the years since Hurricane Maria devastated the island, Puerto Rico has been experiencing a mass exodus, migrating to the U.S. mainland. A year following Maria, Puerto Rico’s population decreased by 142,000 (4.4%) and has been on a steady decline ever since.
As of 2019, it was estimated that up to 500,000 residents have left the island. After the earthquakes, it is estimated these figures are much higher.
By far, Florida is the most popular destination for refugees, but many have also made it to Massachusetts. 319,042 live in Massachusetts, the fifth-largest Puerto Rican population in the United States after New York, Florida, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
In Massachusetts, 9.0% of the eligible voter population is Latino (452,000 out of a total of 5,042,000), according to the Pew Research Center.
There are 32 million Hispanics – Latinos eligible to vote this year; Hispanics-Latinos are poised to make up the largest share of U.S. voters who are people of color in November’s election.
“Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced’s endorsement is further proof of the enthusiasm that President Trump is generating among Boricuas and all Hispanics,” said Trump Victory Spokesperson Danielle Alvarez in a statement obtained by the Miami Herald.
The latest polls have Joe Biden over Trump by as much as 13% of the vote. Trump narrowly lost to Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Vazquez isn’t an elected governor, and she lost to Pedro Pierluisi in the primaries, the same person she replaced. Pierluisi was removed from office, after the island’s highest court ruled he was unconstitutionally sworn in.
In 2017, the president faced intense criticism, including from San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, for throwing paper towels into a crowd during his visit to the island in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
Nearly 3,000 people died because of the hurricane, by one estimate, and many of those deaths were linked to complications with medical care.
When asked about the paper towel controversy with Trump, Vázquez Garced told Telemundo, “Nobody is perfect.”
Last month, the Trump administration unveiled a $13 billion aid package to help Puerto Rico in its ongoing recovery from Hurricane Maria. The White House said the package would “help rebuild Puerto Rico’s electrical grid system and spur recovery of the territory’s education system.”
Similarly, Joe Biden’s campaign released a multi-pronged plan to help rebuild and revitalize Puerto Rico, including direct federal investment in infrastructure projects and forgive federal disaster aid, offer Puerto Ricans more access to community-based health care and SNAP food assistance, and ease Puerto Rico’s massive debt burden by reversing austerity measures and restructuring some of the debt.
(Photo credit: Josian F. Bruno Gomez)