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Councilwoman María Quiñones-Sánchez (Left) speaks at the 2019 People's March for Puerto Rico in Philadelphia. Photo: Nigel Thompson, AL DÍA.
Councilwoman María Quiñones-Sánchez (Left) speaks at the 2019 People's March for Puerto Rico in Philadelphia. Photo: Nigel Thompson, AL DÍA.

María Quiñones-Sánchez on the Biden-Harris plan for Puerto Rico’s recovery

At just 48 days before the General Election, Biden released a comprehensive plan for Puerto Rico.

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Hidden in the jungle

May 26th, 2022

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In a historic first, the Biden-Harris campaign released a recovery plan for Puerto Rico on Sept. 5, the first time any president or presidential candidate has ever presented a comprehensive plan for the island in this capacity.

The “Plan for Recovery, Renewal, and Respect for Puerto Rico” focuses on rebuilding Puerto Rico’s infrastructure and economy, after the island endured an onslaught of natural disasters within just a handful of years.

The plan makes mention of Puerto Rico’s political status, saying Biden will work with Puerto Rico’s representatives, depending on the outcome of November’s upcoming referendum on Puerto Rico’s status.

It also outlines ways to strengthen families and schools economically, as well as providing relief from debt that has ridden the island for years.

Philadelphia Councilwoman María Quiñones-Sánchez spoke to AL DÍA on the Biden-Harris plan, touching on what the news means for Puerto Ricans, and the Latinx community in a broader sense.

“I was very pleased to see the thoughtfulness and review of it. Regardless of where people are on the status issue, which unfortunately overly dominates the conversation,” Quiñones-Sánchez said. 

For her, it’s all about rejuvenating Puerto Rico’s economy.

“I have been one of the people who have stressed to his campaign that economic recovery is paramount. Because whether you’re for statehood or for independence, it doesn’t matter if you have a nation that’s falling apart,” she said.

Quiñones-Sánchez said she was most pleased by the focus on health clarity, education investment, and infrastructure investment, which is especially important now as Puerto Rico is still reeling from two hurricanes, and several earthquakes from the beginning of 2020.

It’s also important because Puerto Rico’s own leadership has vastly been unable to manage the recovery on its own. 

“We really need the federal government to do what it has the capacity to do, which is to help restore cities and states that are in trouble,” Quiñones-Sánchez continued.

As for what many perceive to be a sudden pivot by the Biden-Harris campaign to appeal to Latinx voters, Quiñones-Sánchez said she's never been pleased with how the U.S. government has treated the Puerto Rico and Latinx communities. 

Every time Puerto Rico makes its way into the discussion of potential legislation, there is also the worry among politicians using the island’s status to strengthen their game of “political football.” 

“As someone who’s never gotten party support, I can speak to the fact that we don't get the kind of engagement and respect that we should. I think that in a post-COVID world, the Biden-Harris campaign is trying to figure out how you balance all of these interests.” Quiñones-Sanchez said. 

“Just like I was pleased to see our senior Congresswoman and with our freshman Congresswoman push forward a pathway to a more open dialogue about the status of Puerto Rico, we can be mad that it should have happened sooner, but we need to be engaged about how we get revolution on these issues that frustrate us and really speak to the party’s unwillingness to fully embrace the Puerto Rico and Latino community,” she continued.

Here, Quiñones-Sanchez is referring to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Rep. Nydia Velazquez’ Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2020.

Yes, this plan came late, but for Quiñonez-Sanchez, the recognition is no small thing. Of course, many of these measures will need to go through the Federal government, but there are many measures that Biden as President could activate immediately.

And that is what we will hold him to, if elected. 

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