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Biden is vying for the Puerto Rican vote after Trump sees a boost with Latinx voters. Photo: CNN
Biden is vying for the Puerto Rican vote after Trump sees a boost with Latinx voters. Photo: CNN

In a historic first, the Biden-Harris campaign releases a recovery plan for Puerto Rico

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No president or presidential candidate has ever presented a plan like the one Joe Biden has released today, making history on the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month.

The Biden-Harris campaign has released a “Plan for Recovery, Renewal, and Respect for Puerto Rico,” it’s latest policy focused on rebuilding Puerto Rico’s infrastructure and more in light of the island still recovering from the catastrophic events of Hurricane Maria and earthquakes at the start of 2020.

Specifically for Pennsylvania, this attention to Puerto Rican voters could be pivotal to the swing state. Puerto Ricans make-up a significant portion of the Latinx population in Pennsylvania, and before this, it could be said the Biden Campaign displayed a lack of Puerto Rican presence.

Notably, the policy mentions “respect” for the island, which has faced the ignorance of past U.S. leaders throughout its fraught relationship with the country, from a history of colonization tactics, to the most recent affronts to Puerto Rico by the Trump Administration.

Though briefly, the plan does make mention of Puerto Rico’s political status. It says Biden will work with Puerto Rican representatives who support each of the status options — whether that be statehood or sovereignty —  for Puerto Rico to determine its own status.

This would follow the upcoming referendum on Puerto Rico’s status in November, though there is also the worry among Puerto Ricans, of politicians using the island’s status to strengthen their game of “political football.” 

And while the Biden plan would first and foremost place the decision in the hands of Puerto Rico, his administration would still have to work with the federal government to carry out and finalize what becomes of the referendum — still, in a way, instilling a sense of colonialism.

However as stated, unlike Biden’s campaign, the President has not made any plan near the scale of the one the Biden-Harris campaign just released, and Trump’s abysmal reactions to Puerto Rico’s devastation following two tropical storms and this year’s earthquakes don’t help.

The island has yet to receive adequate relief funds to rebuild following these natural disasters, and even when disproportionately hit by COVID-19, the Trump administration was slow to act – if at all.

“As President, Biden will create a federal working group for Puerto Rico which will report directly to the President to make sure Puerto Rico has the resources and technical assistance it needs,” the plan says.

The Biden-Harris Plan makes many promises to Puerto Rico, and they all focus on rebuilding in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, and devastating earthquakes seen at the top of 2020.

Highlights

● Supporting a full recovery and infrastructure reconstruction to modern standards.

● Investing in Puerto Rico’s future through economic development initiatives and

support for families.

● Providing relief from unsustainable debt.

● Expanding access to education and workforce development.

Federal Response to Puerto Rico’s natural disasters was slow under the Trump Administration, but the Biden-Harris campaign wishes to forgive disaster loans to Puerto Rico that FEMA has lent the island.

Biden’s administration would also seek to make sure recovery funds aid local businesses, and supports families through economic initiatives that would strengthen healthcare, and COVID-19 relief.

Schools and education are also a large part of his plan, and it outlines initiatives to invest in universities, mental health, and public education.

The schematic also puts forth a plan to strengthen Puerto Rico’s infrastructure, including electricity, and power healthcare.

In terms of debt, the Biden plan acknowledges Puerto Rico is ridden with it, either through corruption, or the onslaught of natural disasters. His plan says it will work with the Puerto Rican government to rectify unjust and illegal debts to find a way forward.

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