Unsettled Citizens | Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto || Radcliffe Institute

Unsettled Citizens | Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto || Radcliffe Institute


– Welcome back. It’s my privilege to introduce
Professor Gabriela Soto Laveaga, who is going to
introduce our keynote speaker. Professor Soto Laveaga
also served on the planning committee and was
responsible for just so much of the structure that
you see up here today, along with Professor Deloria
and Professor Jeeyoung Kim. She just really had an immense
imprint on this conference. So I introduced her also
with a sense of gratitude, and also for having
gotten to know a colleague better in my time
at Harvard and Radcliffe. Gabriela Soto Laveaga
is a professor of the history of
science in the Harvard faculty of Arts and Sciences. And her current
research interests investigate knowledge,
production, and circulation between Mexico and India. Also, medical professionals
and social movements in science and development
projects in the 20th century. Her first book, Jungle
Laboratories, Mexican Peasants, National Projects and
the Making of the Pill, in 2009, won the
Robert K. Merten Award from the American Sociological
Association’s section on science, knowledge,
and technology. Her second monograph, Almost
Done, Sanitizing Rebellion, Physician Strikes, Public Health
and Repression in 20th Century Mexico, examines the role
of health care providers both as critical actors in the
formation of modern states, and as social agitators. She is not only almost
done with a second book, she’s almost done with a third. I’m not going to
set up expectations, but this is a remarkably
productive scholar, who is really helping us
rethink what science is, and its geographic
and cultural roots. Without further interruption,
Gabriela Soto Laveaga. [APPLAUSE] – Thank you so much for that
really beautiful introduction. In September 2017, when Category
Five Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico, the world was
introduced to Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto, who, often standing in
water sporting a baseball cap, and with white-framed
glasses splattered with rain, she demanded that help be
brought to Puerto Rico. As hours, then days,
then weeks passed, she became the firm,
unwavering voice against the lasting
inequity of colonialism. Yulín, as she is called,
unapologetically called out and detailed the
Administration’s failure to help. Television cameras
captured not just the vast destruction of the
island, but the Mayor’s anger. In her words, “We
are dying here. I cannot fathom that the
greatest nation in the world cannot figure out logistics
for a small island,” end quote. As the death toll surged and
help was not forthcoming, she positioned herself
behind a mic and declared, “I am done being polite, I am
done being politically correct. I am mad as hell,” end quote. If colonialism is an
experiment in power, then Puerto Rico
is an experiment that, as most
colonial laboratories, has gone on too long. Since 1898, when Puerto Rico
passed from the Spanish empire to become part of a
growing US empire, it has been an oxymoron. An essential afterthought
of the United States. A strategic foothold
in the Caribbean. While Puerto Ricans
hold American passports, they do not hold full
citizenship rights. For many Puerto
Ricans Hurricane Maria was a moment of reckoning. What does it mean to be an
incorporated territory that belongs to the United States? The hurricane however, did not
make Yulín in the same way that the storm did not define or
defy the people of Puerto Rico. While the outside world may have
become aware of her in 2017, she rose to fame
and political power much earlier, when
she defied the odds, and a powerful incumbent, to
become the mayor of San Juan. Named one of Time Magazine’s
100 most influential people, she is a woman who has
defied expectations since she was a small girl. Yulín grew up in Puerto
Rico, but obtained her degree in political science
from Boston University, and a Master of Science in
Public Management and Policy at the Heinz College at
Carnegie Mellon University. In 1992, she returned to Puerto
Rico to serve as an advisor to San Juan’s mayor. A decade later, she started
her first and only term in the House of
Representatives of Puerto Rico. As her first term
was concluding, she again defied
convention and advice and decided to run
for mayor of San Juan. San Juan, a city with a metro
area of 2.3 million residents had been governed by a
powerfully connected politician for more than 12 years. Yulín was told repeatedly that
she had neither the funds nor the connections to win. Wearing a bandanna that
detractors said made her look like a revolutionary, and
supporters responded that yes, it made her look
like a revolutionary, Yulín took to the streets– an unprecedented campaign
style declaring that [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]– “power is in the streets.” Public housing, small
villages, immigrants and women became the focus
of her campaign. While on the road, she
explained that she was running because she wanted quote,
[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH].. “a San Juan for everyone.” And indeed, it was the people
of San Juan who propelled her to a stunning victory in 2012. As with the people
of Puerto Rico, Mayor Yulín is not allowing
the hurricane to define her. The hurricane’s aftermath
provided an unexpected platform for her to speak out
against larger themes, such as the continued US
presence in the daily life of Puerto Ricans. But it is the mayor’s voice
and her unwavering commitment to justice and the
rights of citizens that have made her an
icon for postcolonial struggles the world over. I must confess that it
was difficult to write an introduction for Yulín
because she does not stop. In the past 10
days, for example, it was announced that she would
co-chair Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign for President. [APPLAUSE] Yes. A few days later, she
declared that she was running for governor of Puerto Rico. [APPLAUSE] All while still holding the
position of Mayor of San Juan– a city still very
much in recovery. In closing, I want to leave you
with two additional facts about Yulín that I think exemplify
who she is as a person. Two images, really. One is a trailer and the
other one is a t-shirt. She works from inside
a double wide trailer, and not the Mayor’s
official office, because, as she explained,
it is easier for the people to get to me from here. And the t-shirt. A t-shirt that she wore when
she declared last week– last Friday– that she was running
for Governor. The t-shirt declared simply,
[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] “without fear”. Two words that easily
encapsulate Yulín’s life, and that of the people
she proudly represents– the people of Puerto Rico. Please join me in
welcoming Yulín Cruz. [APPLAUSE] – Thank you so much. Can you guys see me? Can you see me? [LAUGHTER] This seems like I should
be standing on something. First of all, thank
you all so very much. I’d like to thank Dean
Brown and everyone at Radcliffe Institute for the
honor of speaking before you. You see, I’m the great
granddaughter of a sugar cane plantation worker. Man that didn’t know
how to read or write, and had the sense to tell
one of his daughters– my grandmother Yulín– that she was not going to
work the fields, that she was going to go to school. And she thus became
the first one in her house to learn
to read or write. And as the years passed,
became the founding director of the School of Physical
Therapy in Puerto Rico. So to be standing here
in this great institution reminds me of her,
and of the struggle that she bore all her life
to make sure that everyone had access to good education. The kind that uplifts
the spirit and the mind, and the kind that allows
men, women, children, older, immigrants, or people that
are just trying to do better for themselves do exactly that. Do more than survive and thrive. But I’m going to disappoint
you right off the bat. A lot of speakers
have spoken today, and they are experts
in the matter at hand. A lot of the colleagues, I
watched you over the internet this morning. I’m not an expert. I’m not an expert
in anything that has to do with immigration in
the legal sense of the word. What I am, without a doubt,
is witness to the implications on everyday life– of what happens and
what result when you bestow upon a group of
people the label of citizen. Or you take away from a group
of people the label of citizen. What I am is without
a doubt a person born in the duality of a
nationality and a citizenship. The discussion and
interpretation of this duality has been cause for many
fights in Puerto Rico. Some of them are nice
fights and some of them break the dinner table. You see, I am a
Puerto Rican national. I am an American citizen. But I identify myself
as Puerto Rican. That means my nation
is Puerto Rico. Now, I know that by
mere legal standards, Puerto Rico may not be
considered a nation because we are not a sovereign nation. But that does not mean that we
don’t live in a certain way, love in a certain way,
follow certain standards and rules of conduct which
are endemic and intrinsic to our culture and our language. I’m going to tell you
one very little example. In English you say I love you. You can say I love you to your
daughter, to your husband, to your parents, to your dog. In Spanish we say,
[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH].. So it doesn’t mean that
one language is richer than the other, it just
means that one sense of expression of the
people that share that language is
different than another. I also want to ask
you that while I speak you think
about what I’m saying not that from the
perspective of a colonizer, but from the perspective of
the person that is living. This perspective
allows us to partake in a common language, a common
cultural bond and shared values which provide
and surround us all. In many ways it creates a
thread capable of forging, if you will, something more
binding than economic and financial structure creates. Is that my friend? Yes. I told her if the baby makes
any noise don’t leave the room. Because why is it that every
time a baby makes a noise women have to leave the room? Right? No. [APPLAUSE] You see, people may
leave behind geography. They may come from one
country to another, from one part of the
country to another, from a rural area
to an urban area, or from an urban
area to a rural area. But when it happens cross
nations, they may leave away, but they don’t leave. You know that saying, you can’t
take the hood out of the girl, but you can take the
girl out of the hood, or it goes the other way around? But the culture, that who we
are follows us wherever we are. And there’s a
certain duality that happens within people
when they realize that they want to be one thing,
but they are something else. The duality when
society expects us to be different
than what we are, and to submerge
ourselves in what often is called the melting pot. It’s what Shakespeare would
say, “To be, or not to be”. I am the embodiment of the
Puerto Rican conundrum. You see, some Puerto
Ricans feel themselves as second-class citizens,
for they identify themselves as Americans first. And to them– and they have
every right to feel that way– no one needs condemn
them for that. To them, equality will only
come through statehood. And I’ll talk a little bit
about that in a few minutes. Other Puerto Ricans– and
there’s at least one here in the crowd– other Puerto Ricans
feel as I feel. We respect our
American citizenship, but we identify ourselves
as Puerto Rican nationals. We are a territory
of the United States, which means we are a colony
of the United States. We have even been told that we
can be sold and disposed of. And though that language has
come from the White House, and it has come from
Congress, sold and disposed of as if we were a mere possession
and not human beings. Do not get me wrong. You know, I admire
the foundation of the way this country was put
together so much that I want it for my own. “We hold these truths
to be self-evident that all men are
created equal, that they are endowed by their creator
with certain unalienable rights. That among these
are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Now of course, the
definition expanded. Men became women, men
that were white men and were expected to
be property owners, became, really, all
men and all women. But somehow, having a
citizenship does not really give you the right to fully
participate in democracy, for when you take
people’s rights away, when you don’t allow them access
to appropriate health care or appropriate education,
when it takes you longer in this country
to get to college, and a lot of paperwork,
where we can go into a store, and in 15 minutes with
no background checks, buy an assault rifle,
you know there’s something terribly wrong. And those things are a
hindrance to participating in the greatest
tapestry of democracy. So you see, some fellow
countryman of mine think that if they
become a state, equality we’ll be
waiting for them. Now I ask my
brothers and sisters of the great native nations
of the United States, has that been the case? I ask my Muslims
brothers and sisters, have that been the case? I asked the transgender
community has that been the case? And the LGBTQ community,
has that been the case? I asked women if that
has been the case, and I can ask the same
thing of African-Americans. Citizenship, the legality of
it does not give you equality. Equality has to be fought,
has to be nurtured, has to be taken care of
every day of your lives with everything you do. Equality has to do with
the way we tell history. If you ask historians, Puerto
Rico was discovered in 1493. The truth is we
weren’t discovered. That Taíno natives were there,
and they called the island nation of Puerto Rico,
[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH].. And you see, what I said
there, the island nation of Puerto Rico is
enough to make people all over Puerto Rico
tell me that I’m a communist and a socialist. Yeah. Takes a little longer
getting off the airport now, it takes a little
more inspection of my stuff at the airport
now, but that is the price that we must pay to ensure that
others have the same rights that we have. Now, I ask you, when they
wrote that were they thinking only white men that are property
owners will forever, ever have those on unalienable rights? Or aren’t people
in France endowed with the same
unalienable rights? What about the creator? So if you’re a Muslim
or you’re Hindu, your creator does not endow you
with those unalienable rights? I’m Catholic. I walk around– because my
mother will chastise me if I don’t do this– with a rosary,
especially around Lent. But that doesn’t
give me the right to feel that people that pray
the way they want to pray need to feel less safe
than I do when I pray. So we have to think
about something that is terribly wrong, and
I don’t have it with me. Can I borrow your
phone for a second? This little thing, as good
as it is, it connects us all. It connects us to
a larger humanity, and it connects us to
a different morality. It makes us think that
citizenship is not only an issue of legality, but
it’s an issue of morality. Because when New Zealand Muslims
were killed a couple of days ago, we were able to
see their Prime Minister embody what every public
servant should be. And when a few weeks
ago, or perhaps– thank you– for
perhaps months ago, the Jewish community
in Pittsburgh also suffered the
tragedy of hatred. We were all there to see it. September 20 changed my life. It changed all of our lives. Since 1952 Puerto Ricans
have had a self-government, except any laws that we pass
cannot be in contravention to any law that the
United States has passed. We became citizens of the
United States in 1917 by birth. Before that, for a very
brief period of time, the Puerto Rican
citizenship was acknowledged by the United States. And once 1917 came around,
our citizenship was wiped out. We are citizens of
the United States. We cannot vote for the
President of the United States, although we vote for the
primaries of Republicans and Democrats. And you say, well
that’s just not fair. Is it? It depends the way
you think about it. You see, if you think about
it in one type of light, you will think it’s not fair. This is an issue
of civil rights. And if you are an
American citizen, you should partake of the
entire tapestry of democracy. If you think that Puerto
Rico is a nation as it is, you will say you know what? This is not an issue
of civil rights. This is a
self-determination issue. So let’s rewrite
story and tell it like it is– something that
is not difficult for me. Puerto Rico was not
discovered in 1493, Puerto Rico was first
invaded in 1493. Puerto Rico was invaded a
second time on July 25, 1898. And we were seated, given to the
United States as an act of war. At the time, Cuba
was already fighting for their independence. In Puerto Rico, there was more
of a polite and autonomous way of looking at things. We had obtained what is called–
somebody translate it for me– [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]. Autonomous letter? For Spain. It gave us the rights that
Spanish citizens had– an unlimited interaction
with the Spanish government. But eight months
later, boom, there comes the Spanish
American War and we are given to the United States. In 1952, Puerto Ricans voted
for their Constitution. The Constitution had to be
ratified by the United States, and Congress took and wiped
out an entire section of it. A section that talked mainly
about privacy, and dignity, and the right to all
to be treated the same. Now again, this is not
about being anti-American. This is about understanding that
Puerto Rico is a nation that should be given the
right to freely determine what kind of relationship it
wants with the United States. And if the majority of
the people want statehood, let it be so. If the majority
of the people want free association, which is what
I believe in, let it be so. If the majority of the people
want independent, let it be so. If the majority
of the people want to enhance the current
status and take it out of the territorial
clause so that we are not under the total
powers of Congress, let it be so, but let us decide. So I understand the NAACP, when
a few weeks ago and months ago they said we are going to
support statehood for Puerto Rico, because if you look at it
from the strictest standpoint of civil rights, then you say
that’s the way it should go. All I’m asking is let us decide. Let American democracy truly
exemplify itself in this year, in this century. Respect the people you invaded
enough to let them decide what they want for their future. Because one thing
that’s been proven beyond any shadow of a doubt,
what we have is not working. It’s not working for us. I told you that on September
20 my life changed. The Puerto Rico that I knew
will never be the same. The San Juan that I grew up
in will never be the same. And I just met– I didn’t get your name. – Jean-Luc. – Jean-Luc. Jean-Luc Picard. [LAUGHTER] Jean-Luc was telling me that
his family is from Katrina. And why do I say it
like that rather than saying from New Orleans? Because we start
identifying ourselves by the pain and the sorrow
that we have tried to overcome. Holyoke, Massachusetts. 60% of the Puerto Rican– of the population of Holyoke,
Massachusetts is Puerto Rican. And about a year
ago I went to visit, and the children would come
and tell me I am from Maria. So you see, migration comes
because of different things. It comes because people want
to live their life the way they want to live,
because people want to run from dictatorial
governments, because people want to
love whomever they want to and they can not do it
because, and this country knows this better
than any other, because they are looking
for religious freedom. And climate change
creates migration. The most devastating kind. 3.2 million Puerto Ricans
live in Puerto Rico, and five million Puerto Ricans
live in the United States. It is thought that about 300,000
undocumented immigrants live in Puerto Rico, most of them
members of the Dominican Republic community. Now, when I went into office
I signed an executive order saying that no woman
was going to be asked for their migratory status. Because you see, the law
states that they can give birth in an emergency
room, but the law does not give them the
right to have prenatal care. So what do you have? You have a lot of
babies that don’t have the appropriate care. And then they are born,
and they are born citizens. They are born citizens
of a country that is a colony, out of
parents that don’t have the necessary paperwork. If I thought I had it
difficult, that really takes it to another level. So now, any woman,
no matter what, can receive prenatal
care, can deliver, and can have postnatal care
in the city of San Juan. We also took away the
five-year restriction that you have to wait
to receive medical care. Now, is there anybody
here from Mexico? I was going to ask you
if you have given birth, but obviously it’s not the case. Do you have a kid? No. Anybody here from
another country? A woman. You have children? – No. [LAUGHTER] – You do? Where are you from? – Argentina. – Argentina. I guarantee you–
what is your name? – Patricia. – Patricia. I guarantee you
that Patricia’s pain when she gave birth was the same
pain I felt when I give birth 29 years ago. There’s no difference. And I guarantee
you that the pain of a Native American
mother that wants her child to grow up and thrive
is the same pain of a woman in the
South Bronx that wants her children to be born
not having the highest asthma rates in the United States. And I guarantee
you the people that lived after Katrina felt
the same sorrow that we felt after the hurricane. They didn’t get the
help they needed, we didn’t get the
help we needed. And I’ve often been asked why. I don’t know why. It could be because
of administrations that are racist, that see
people of color as disposable. It could be the ugly truth
that people just don’t care about the lives of others. And I can tell you that in
the midst of darkness, all you want is for somebody to
tell you your life matters. I saw people just
rummaging through what was their homes, with nothing
but debris in front of them. I saw mothers, and
fathers, and grandkids telling me don’t worry
Mayor, help will come. The US will not let us die. This is not a political thing. It was never about politics. It was about saving our lives. And unfortunately, the current
incumbent of the White House never got it. He never got it. This isn’t about giving help. This is about meeting
a legal imperative and a moral imperative. Because when you put boots on
the ground in another country, you have a moral
imperative to help. And when you have
made those people citizens of your country,
you have a legal imperative to help. And then the great conundrum
keeps getting even bigger, because while the Trump
Administration turned his back on us,
the American people were there to take care of us. 320 AFL CIO workers got into
San Juan about two weeks. You know, when the
President was telling us that the logistics
were too difficult? Because as he said, and I
quote, “You are an island, surrounded by water. Lots and lots of water. Ocean water.” No shit. We didn’t know that
until he said it. Thank you Mr. President. [APPLAUSE] And we were getting FEMA
people to ask us for– I’m sorry Mayor, how much
water would you be needing? And I’m like, I’m sorry? How much water would
it be good enough? And San Juan is the
largest municipality, so we had enough water, enough
food, enough medication, enough medical equipment
and enough medical supplies for two months. I did not count
on having to take care of 65 elderly
homes that were not run by the municipality. I did not think that I would
have to care for and help other hospitals. I did not think
that I would have to care for and help other
cities, but I did it, and I was harshly
criticized in Puerto Rico. Which one of you
would turn your backs on anybody that falls down on
the street and would not say, are you OK? So I did what I had to do. I’m not very big,
as you can see. And my mother will
be highly upset, because I’m supposed to be
standing behind the podium and not show you I’m
wearing sneakers right now. [LAUGHTER] I swear, Mom, my
shoes are in the bag. But my grandmother, who was
a very courageous woman, as most women are, said to
me, look, you’re too little. So when you go to the
sandbox, never start a fight. Never. But I’ll tell you what. I don’t know what the
average age here is, but when I was growing up we
had those Aladdin lunchboxes, they were made out of
metal they were very heavy. And I don’t advocate
violence, I’m just telling you the
story of what she told me. So she said, this is
what you have to do. You have to hit them very
hard once with that lunchbox. [LAUGHTER] You’re not going to have
more than one chance, so once you hit them
you throw the lunchbox, you scream as hard as you can,
and you run as fast as you can. So in the midst of all
that pain and sorrow I did what my
grandmother taught me. I screamed for those that could
not scream for themselves. And in the midst of all
that, people were saying, don’t worry, Mayor,
they’ll come. They promised. They’re not going to let us die. A few weeks after
the hurricane it was evident that he was
going to let us die. That our lives did
not matter to him. That being a citizen
was not enough. So I did what I could do, and
I would do it again every day of my life. Because I saw the gazed
looks in people’s eyes because they didn’t
have chemotherapy, or they didn’t have
dialysis for weeks. 3,000 of us died. 3,000 that did not open
their eyes today because some decided to play politics and
look good rather than doing what they were supposed to do. Because they did
not, they did not look at the moral imperative
above the legal imperative of citizenship. And as we become
citizens of the world, we must really take
a look at that. We should be tearing down
walls not building walls of bigotry and discrimination. We should be putting
together schools, not closing schools like
we are in Puerto Rico. Because we had Hurricane
Irma September 5, and we had Hurricane Maria
September 20, but before that, we had Hurricane
fiscal control board. As an act of extreme, and
blatant, and raw colonialism, US Congress empowered seven– seven people not elected
by the Puerto Rican people. Now, mind you, our democracy
is marginal at best. But there are elected by
the people of Puerto Rico. Seven people, and in the
legislation that’s called [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]
which means promise, and the only promise they have
kept is to the hedge funds and to Wall Street. They have not kept their promise
to the people of Puerto Rico. I was always opposed to
[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH],, and what was I called? A socialist and a communist. Threatening to reduce pensions. Now, the average
pension in Puerto Rico’s about $600 dollars a month. Have reduced already
health benefits, have reduced the amount of money
that is spent on health care, are threatening
to close down some of the areas of the
University of Puerto Rico, have closed more
than 500 schools, and they say, well, you know
it’s just people are leaving. People are leaving Puerto Rico. Well, how about trying
to teach children the way we’re supposed to teach them? Not with 25, 35, 45
cramped in a room, but maybe between
15 and 20, which is what anyone that knows
about teaching will tell you. How about treating
our children that have disabilities with
dignity, and ensuring that they have what they need? Austerity didn’t
work anywhere else. What makes these
seven think it’s going to work in Puerto Rico? What do they want? Our blood? What do they need? So those that believe
that statehood– erroneously so– will
bring them full equality– because it’s not Disneyland,
I can tell you that– should have a right
through a process where all the voices are heard. Those that want
independence, those that want free
association, those that want an enhanced commonwealth. We should all have a right. Yesterday, Congressman
Darren Soto from Florida put forth a legislation to
make Puerto Rico a state without consulting the
Puerto Rican people. And that’s not
American democracy. That’s not the land of the
free and the home of the brave. That’s not the spirit
that held our hands, and fed us, and gave
us water, and tended to a wound of hundreds of
loving American people that have gone to Puerto
Rico to take care of us. 30,000 rooftops are still
blue tarps or blue roofs. That means that in
a tropical storm 120,000 people are going to have
to be taken out of harm’s way. And this morning I
was watching, and I am, to my brothers and sisters
from the indigenous people, I’m sorry, I don’t remember. It was a reservation that has
been flooded for two weeks. Pine Ridge, that was it. And I could hear this man
pleading for the same thing that I was pleading. Water, food, acknowledgment that
his life and his people’s lives matter. He’s a US citizen,
but he’s also a member of his particular nation. I can tell you one
thing I am an expert on. And I wish I didn’t have to be. I’m an expert at seeing
people struggling for, gasping for air. People going to
hospitals and saying, I don’t have oxygen in
my home, and my mother is going to die if I
don’t give her oxygen. And again I will say it,
I could not fathom why– why would anybody think
of us in a different way, or are we not entitled
to the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and
the pursuit of happiness? Aren’t we all? No matter where we come
from, no matter who we love, no matter the color of our
skin, no matter our religion, aren’t we all, no matter
where we live in the world, isn’t it more important to
be a citizen of the world and have shared moral
values than to not be able to participate
appropriately? So we are unsettled. We are unhinged. But we are not without any hope. What I did see was that when
people need to come together, nobody has to write a memo. Nobody asks for the
number of gallons. Operation Blessing, a
nongovernmental organization out a Pat Robertson’s
organization just knocked on
my door literally, and said we’re from
Operation Blessing and we’re here to help. Oxfam, private institutions,
the city of Boston, the city of New York. Mayor Bill de Blasio
sent crew, after crew, after crew of people from
Emergency Management System. Because we were citizens? No. Because we were humans. Because we were in need. And because we have
a shared commonality and an understanding that
when people are in pain you take care of them. I was listening to you speak
this morning about Paris. The world is filled with
different experiments of democracy. [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]. You can say it in French. What is it? [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] – [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] – [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]. Sounds eerily similar to
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, right? Have you ever met a
young boy or a young girl that says when I grow up
I want to be a prostitute? No. When I grow up, I’m going
to lead a life of crime. No. Children are children. They are children
if they have walked thousands of miles
to come to the border to a country they were told
will open her arms to them. This is a great nation. This is a great nation. And there is no duplicity
in what I’m saying. I want more sovereign powers
for my nation in an association with your nation. Because the bonds
that bring us together are so much stronger than the
bonds that may set us apart. I’ll tell you this
one last thing. Yesterday President Trump
mentioned my name again as he was walking to
get on his helicopter. I’m right here. He can have at me all he wants. But I will never stop
fighting for injustice. I will never stop fighting for
the eradication of poverty. 1.3 million Puerto Ricans– 1.3 million out of
3.2 million receive some sort of
nutritional assistance to put food on the table. And out of that, 45% percent
are elderly, disabled adults, and children. It makes perfect
sense to make sure that the economy in
Puerto Rico is not subdued to the American economy. I don’t how many
of you know this, but we cannot buy things from
the countries that you buy things. There’s this little
thing called the Jones Act that says that we
have to buy everything through American ships. And because we are an island– [LAUGHTER] I couldn’t believe
when I heard it. And then it became a skit
on Saturday Night Live. So this is what happens. At one point, we produce
13 out of the most used 21 drugs in the world. Prescription drugs. But we would package
them, put them in boxes, ship them to the US, and
then repatriate them. And the people that were
responsible for making them could not afford them. Today, today, could not. They cannot afford them. And we see this at the
drugstore every day. An old person, an
elderly person. We call them
[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH].. It’s a term of endearing. Talking to the drugstore
pharmacist and saying [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH],,
I have $20. How much of the heart medication
for the month will that buy me? And the pharmacist says,
[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH],, that will only get
you a week’s worth. So it is our
responsibility, all of us, to make sure that that stops. Because what once was the
promise of help turned very quickly into the following
words, [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH],, they’re not coming. They are not coming. It makes you mad. Because it isn’t that he
couldn’t, it’s that he wouldn’t. But then you
understand that there are others that
come to your help, and you understand that there
are others that understand. And you understand
that there is a shared humanity that goes beyond. And even those that want
to sow hate and division are crushed by
little kids that just have a lunchbox in their hand. I didn’t do what
I did to be brave. I did it because I had to. Because I was tired
of seeing the people that I love and care for die. We can change the world. We can change our neighborhoods. We can do it together. We don’t have to be at
each other’s throats. This isn’t an issue of
being anti-American. This is an issue of ensuring
that the light, the beacon of light that this country
has been for hundreds of years shines bright. Not because others are
subdued, but because others are given the freedom to decide. That is the American way. That is what we can
accomplish together. And it doesn’t matter
if you’re in France, it does matter if
you’re in Turkey, it doesn’t matter if
you’re in Argentina, it doesn’t matter if
you are in New Orleans, we all deserve to
have a better life. We all want to hear these words. Ellen DeGeneres sent
me the best tweet ever. She said, “Mayor, I see you,
I hear you, I love you.” Let’s see each other. Let’s hear each other. Let’s love each other. Let not people die
senseless deaths. Not only did they die,
but then the President tried to rob us and deny us of
the right to feel that pain. And he said yesterday,
$91 billions have been given to Puerto Rico. That is just not true. $91 billion is what
it seems like it’s going to take to get it done. It’s not about the money. It’s not about politics. It’s not about
Republicans or Democrats. It’s about a common
and shared humanity. A common and shared goal
of changing the world to make it a better place. We can do it together. I just want to finish by
thanking anybody and everybody that didn’t look the other way. Because even though
you may have not known it, if you sent a bottle
of water to Puerto Rico, you saved a life. I’m not good at starting fights. That’s not my good suit. But I am my grandmother’s
granddaughter. And for as long as I live,
I’ll hit as hard as I can, I’ll scream as loud
as I can, and I will run as fast as I
can because I am still fearful that from wherever she
may be, she will look at me and say don’t ever,
ever start a fight, but never, never stop until
you have finished one. Let’s change the world together. We can do it. Thank you very much. [APPLAUSE] Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. – Thank you. Thank you so much. Now it’s time for Q and A. So
we have a microphone there. I’m going to ask that you
observe the same Ken Mack/Phil Deloria rules that we laid out
earlier, namely that you ask a question respectfully to our
wonderful guest and speaker, and save time for those
in the queue behind you so we can get a
variety of voices in. – Thank you for coming. My name is Julia Carpenter,
and you mentioned something called the Jones Act. – Mm-hmm. – I have never heard
of that before. I’m hoping that you’ll
tell us more about it. – Yeah, sure. Where are you from, Julia? – Originally, or? – Yeah. – Rochester, New York. – Rochester, New York. So part of the issue with
Puerto Rico, as you know, is that it is the smallest
of the largest Antilles. So we are very well
positioned for the Cold War. So in the Cold War, any
ships, like you know, the Cuban Missile Crisis, they
were expected to be halted. We also were used
for many years, the small municipal island
of Vieques and Culebra were used for many
years by the Navy, and they would literally
shoot and throw bombs in live civilian
population at the beaches there. Agent Orange was
tried in Puerto Rico, the contraceptive pill
was tried in Puerto Rico. But the Jones Act is
part of using finances as a colonial domination tool. So it says that any ship that
goes into Puerto Rico first– let’s say they come from Spain– goes to Puerto Rico first,
cannot come into the United States. So what they do
is that they force us to use only ships
which are US flagships. A lot of studies have
come out, and say that between 130%
and 151% increase in the cost of living in
Puerto Rico because of that. Now, not only does that
have an issue with– and what I’ll do is I’ll
send the Radcliffe Institute the threads and the
links for these studies that have just been released. But one of the things
that is also important is that during the
hurricane, because the– that’s the divine mercy. That’s my only,
[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH].. During the storm,
because there was Harvey, and because there were other
really climate change-related disasters, there was not
enough lampposts or generators in the United States. So you would think
that we could buy them from the same countries
that the US buys them. We weren’t allowed to do that. So consequently,
about 60% to 70% of the Puerto Rican population
went without electricity for one year. In San Juan we were lucky. I lived in a shelter
for four months, and San Juan got about
between four and six months– by the end of six months
everybody had electricity. We didn’t want electricity
to take warm showers or have air conditioning,
we wanted it so that doctors did
not have to operate with the light on
their cell phone. That’s what we wanted
electricity for. So the Jones Act takes
a number of ships– it’s not the entire US
merchant marine fleet– and forces us to only use
US ships, which, in a way, it increases. Funny enough, President
Trump waived the Jones Act for seven days during
the aftermath of Irma, and 10 days during the
aftermath of Maria. No ships came from
anywhere because it was too small of a time frame
for them to be able to work. But USVI doesn’t
have the Jones Act. Now when we say, look, we
need to repeal the Jones Act or at least put Puerto Rico on
a path to repealing the Jones Act, we are told it
has to do with an issue of national security. But what about USVI? You have to go through USVI
to come to Puerto Rico. So it isn’t an issue
of national security, it is an issue of
financial domination. I have to thank our Maritime
brothers and sisters which at least have told
us that they’re willing to sit down and
start talking about this. And from a very
bold no, to a let’s sit down and start
talking about this, it is a step in the
right direction. But it would certainly
help Puerto Rico if we were not
subjected to that. Hi. – Hi. Ricardo Ortiz, and
[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] for your incredible
presentation. Powerful presentation. – Thank you. – And you indicated you
were a American citizen. Would you ever consider running
for president of the United States? [CHEERING] – I can’t because I was born
in a territory, or in a colony. However, my daughter was born
in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. So my daughter could
run, but she’s not at all interested in politics. Somebody is selling
t-shirts in the web saying, Carmen Yulín for President. Nasty for the people. [LAUGHTER] Because the President told me
that I had been nasty to him. There’s a lot of things
I could have been. Yes. Hi. – Hi, my name is
George Angel Barreras. I’m here on behalf of
[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH].. We’re a nonprofit that
serves the ESL students here in Massachusetts and
the city of Boston. – What is that? [FINGERS SNAPPING] – It’s clapping–quiet clapping. – This is quiet clapping. – An act of solidarity, yeah. – Oh. – Oh, OK. – So first, on behalf
of my Dominican heritage and my family, I want to
say [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH],, nice to meet you. Thank you so much for coming. Well, seeing as how the Jones
Act stopped a lot of ships for example coming into
Puerto Rico and had them docked in harbor for weeks
and months at a time, and then now we’re seeing the
pictures as well of gallons of water bottles left by
FEMA in fields of Puerto Rico just sitting there
for months at a time. People needed them. Seeing how the federal
government of the United States failed in its effectiveness,
I know Elon Musk in particular offered to redo
the power grid in Puerto Rico to make it all clean energy. On behalf of not only
the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the rest
of the Caribbean, and the Latin
ex-community as a whole, would you be open to having
a private entity like that collaborate with you– Tesla, for example– to help
revolutionize the power grid and lead by example for
all other countries that will be affected by
climate change as well? – I have sent Elon Musk
messages in US national TV like, Elon Musk, here I am. But he doesn’t like me, I think. But he went– his company went
to Puerto Rico and did some very good work over there– Tesla– especially with a
hospital that is for children, and put the solar panels
and the solar batteries. Through the Clinton
Foundation, we are energizing the largest
urban market in Puerto Rico. It’s called
[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH].. It’s going to take about 800
panels and Tesla batteries for it to operate. Why do we want to do that? Because it’s about 300 very
small farmers or business people that couldn’t really make
ends meet for about four months because there was no power. I did not think about true
green power until the hurricane. [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]. I’ll show you in a minute. But the answer is yes. I signed an executive
order that everything that we built in San Juan
from the municipal part is going to be
fully solar powered. So we will be beginning in the
next few weeks, just a small– it’s small– it’s 12
homes– nine homes, which will be for a particular– [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]—- for a
particular area in San Juan that was totally devastated. And all of the homes are
going to be solar powered. But real solar power so you
can run the entire home. Not this thing about
just being able to run the TV in your house. But look, for Operation
Blessing, and Alice Chun, who is the creator of this,
came over to Puerto Rico and gave me this. I had never seen any of this. You can buy it in the internet. It’s called a solar pump. I call it a cube of hope. Just imagine you’re
in total darkness. I’m not sure if you could
turn the lights off here. This is– it’s got 91 lumens. Turn– thank you so much. But it also allows
for something that is even much more important
in a crisis, which is to have a communication
when you have no communication. And it gives you an SOS signal. This is very simple,
and it’s solar powered. You put it out
eight hours a day, and it gives you eight
hours a night of light. Operation Blessing handed
out– and through the Hispanic Federation– about half a million of these
all throughout Puerto Rico. This is my new American Express. I never leave home without it. [LAUGHTER] But the answer is yes. So if you have a
connection, just let him know we’re waiting. – And I know I’m not supposed
to really ask a second question, but just really quick just
because I’ve been freaking out the whole week looking
forward to this and I’m sweating a little bit. I just wanted to know,
can I have a hug? – Yes. [LAUGHTER] [APPLAUSE] How old are you? – 24. – 24 and he’s been freaking out. I’m 56. I know I don’t look
it, but I’m 56. Oh, you could be my son. [LAUGHTER] – That’s why I called you tia. – Oh. Hi. – Hi. It’s a simple enough question. We have a room full of people. I’m– sorry, I’m throwing
something your way– I’m assuming everyone
here has some resources, some friends, some
connections, some knowledge. What do you need most? You are still
dealing with stuff. I assume they haven’t sent
you $91 million dollars. And what do you need most? – We need three things. – And after that, if you can
tell people where to look, if it’s something
they can’t provide, to find out what else you need. – Thank you, by the way. One of the things we need is
forms and platforms like this. And for you all to become
ambassadors of hope for Puerto Rico, and
frankly for any other area– Pine Ridge, the
young man mentioned– but we need for Puerto
Rico to continue to be part of the conversation. Not to be an asterisk at
the end of a paragraph, but to continue to be
part of the conversation. So anything you see about
Puerto Rico, retweet, share on Facebook, and so forth. That’s number one. Number two is we really need
the money that was allocated to get to Puerto Rico. So call your Congresswoman
or your Congressman, call your Senator and
tell them, hey, what up? Give us– send the money down. It’s been allocated. It’s just an issue of not using
this in a vindictive behavior. And number three, like the
young man before you said, we need to make sure that
in a dual way we have power. Power that will
give us the ability to have a strong and
forceful economy, but also the power to decide. So if you could do
one thing, think about Puerto Rico and
our right to decide what the next step in our
relationship with the United States is. And help us ensure that
all the voices are heard. I’ve said to you once
what I believe in. I’m not trying to convince
you of what I believe in. I’m trying to ask
you to help me. You know Jerry Maguire? Help me help you. Well, help me tell Congress that
all voices need to be heard. And never forget us. Never forget us. Never forget anyone
that’s in need. And if you’re here,
it’s because you don’t. You have something
innate in you, ingrained in your
psyche and your soul for people that for
whatever reason, have had to move from
one place to another. And that’s important. Somebody help us. It’s a foundation– you can
give to many foundations. But I started getting Santa
Claus mail– you know, tons of mail. A kid in Ohio send
me his $1 allowance. A teacher– a retired teacher
from Houston send me $25. And all over the United States–
places that I have never heard and will probably never visit– people would say,
Mayor, this is for you. Do with it what you may. So we had to set up a structure. I think we’ve raised
about $600,000. We’ve already used part of
that, because the structure of a foundation allows us to
use 25% outside of San Juan. And now we’re in the
midst of finalizing the selection of homes in
San Juan where people have bedridden relatives or children
with disabilities or functional diversities that need to
be hooked up to something, or powered in order to live. So we’re going to
provide those homes, fully equip them
with solar power so that they can run their
homes completely, and not be at risk of losing their
lives just because a huff and puff comes and the
electricity just leaves. It’s called SomebodyHelpUs.org
or [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH].. Hi. – Hi. I’m Marisa Rodriguez Garcia. I’m a native of Vega Baja. – [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]. – [NON ENGLISH SPEECH] And
a member of the diaspora. We felt a little bit of
the wind of Maria here, and that leads to two questions. One, is there anything you want
from the five million of us here? And number two, if we dream
of the future and something is finally coming our way
of your dream of real– – A process of
self-determination. – What will happen to the
five million of us here? Will you forget us? – Well, that’s interesting
that you say that. And I have to tell
you that I think that one of the
things that happened is that there are
really no more you and us when it comes to the
Puerto Rican population. We’re really one big
group divided by an ocean. Before, people in Puerto Rico
would say [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH].. It was the diaspora
from Chicago that first took food to San Juan. It was the diaspora
through Hispanic Federation that gave us 270,000 pounds
of food that got there before FEMA’s food got there. FEMA was giving us as food– and I remember watching
this box and saying, oh, God, there’s
an entree in here. And it was beef jerky. Beef jerky, apple sauce, a
Babe Ruth, chocolate pudding, and a little can of Pringles. That was food. That was food. And when some of
us complained, they said, if you’re
hungry you eat it. Well, that’s true. That’s true. But if you’re a diabetic
and you eat that, you die. So the diaspora– Philip Levine that was Mayor
of Miami Beach at the time– Houston, California,
Boston, Chicago, New York, held us together. So you cannot forget
what is part of you. And you’re a part of us
and we are a part of you. We will forever be linked by a
horrible situation that helped us find our way to each other. The question is, what can we
do together moving forward? Jossie Valentin that’s
here with me is– or I’m here with her– she’s a Mount Holyoke
City Councilor. She’s part of a diaspora. I personally believe
then whatever happens in Puerto
Rico, the diaspora should have a vote in it. But I have to tell
you that’s not shared by a lot of
people in Puerto Rico. So no, I will never forget you
because you saved the lives of the people that I love. And I learned that
I was mistaken when I called you them. I should have always
called you us. [APPLAUSE] – For her citizenship and for
a wonderful moment of education for all of us, let me
thank Mayor Cruz again. Thank you so much. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC PLAYING]

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