By Luis Iglesias Monsalve
Middletown, PA – After the devastating hurricane María over Puerto Rico, which left the island in ruins, without electricity, water, communication, and multiple damages in infrastructure, Puerto Ricans rise and start a complex journey through the reconstruction of their country. Puerto Rico is a territory of United States of America, although many of us don’t know about it.
Daily Collegian, a Penn State student-based newspaper at University Park, shared its recent editorial entitled “It’s time Penn State and the rest of the nation step up and help Puerto Rico” which criticizes the lack of solidarity that has existed with the island. Following up on this issue, I decided to ask ten North American students in Harrisburg Campus, five questions about the island. Because Puerto Rico is not one of the 50 states that constitute the country, I asked them: Where is the island of Puerto Rico located? What is the capital of Puerto Rico? What information do they know about Puerto Rico? Does Puerto Rico have a president? If so, who is the president? How much do they know about the recent hurricane that affected the island?
Although many Penn State associations and groups have come out to support the difficult situation the island is going through, many American students don’t know, or have little knowledge about where Puerto Rico is, or who is the governor, or facts about the hurricane that affected the territory.
Answers are not entirely wrong, but it is preoccupying that young Americans are unaware of information about one of the most important territories of the United States. For example: in 2011, the island exported more than 65 billion dollars, which in the end, benefited the growth of the United States economy.
It is this unawareness then, provoked perhaps by the physical distance that exists between both territories, or the strong hispanic influence on the island that does not allow that many Americans feel the island is a territory affiliated to the United States, which has, in many ways, same benefits as the mainland. President Donald Trump, who ultimately makes the political and economic decisions on the island, visited Puerto Rico to analyze the damages left by what most people consider the worst hurricane in the history of Puerto Rico. However, critics have not waited too long, based on his behavior in several public acts. As the last editorial of this newspaper stated, and also as many others media companies in Latin America shared, United States has been delayed with immediate aid needed, which depends entirely on the decisions taken in Washington to mitigate the catastrophe they are facing now.