For generations the United States has failed its citizens in Puerto Rico. From the disastrous response to Hurricane Maria to the most recent earthquakes that struck the island, we are reminded time and time again of the federal government’s failure to count the people of Puerto Rico as equal – to apply our American ideals to all our citizens and to share evenly the benefits, privileges, and protections that should come with being an American. Joe knows this has to change. He believes it is time we start treating our fellow brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico with the respect, dignity, support that our American ideals demand.
Joe believes the federal government must do its part in helping the people of Puerto Rico recover from natural disasters and economic crises. He has called on the Trump Administration to restore the disaster aid it had withheld, to justify its cruel policies around recovery payments, and to end the onerous requirements it has since placed on aid. He believes the federal government must immediately create a long-term strategy to rebuild Puerto Rico in a way that protects the island from the unique threats it faces from climate change and natural disasters.
Joe has called for the federal government to restore critical investments in health and mental health services. He is determined to bring parity and equity to services like Medicaid, SSI benefits, education programs, federal food assistance, and other public services that Puerto Ricans rely on. He believes we must protect these programs from budget cuts to support the people of Puerto Rico in their recovery from natural disasters and economic crises.
Joe recognizes the invaluable contributions Puerto Ricans make to the United States, particularly those of the military service members and veterans who have courageously defended our nation. He is fighting to expand access to health and mental health care for all veterans. He advocates for increased investments in patient advocacy, expanding legal assistance to reduce barriers veterans face to accessing their benefits, and strengthening civilian job training and certification programs.
Joe understands the impacts that the flaws in PROMESA have had on the island, and has called for reforms to confront those impacts. Specifically, he has called for allowing Puerto Ricans to make day-to-day decisions, rather than an unelected, unaccountable control board; a halt on debt payments until an independent audit of the control board has been completed; an end to harsh austerity measures; and giving preference to protecting pensions and critical health and education programs from cuts, rather than prioritizing debt payments.
Above all, Joe acknowledges that, for too long, we have imposed decisions on the people of Puerto Rico against their will and without their consent. He believes we must stop treating Puerto Rico like a colony and instead treat its people with the same respect and dignity that all Americans deserve – beginning with self-determination. Joe supports the will of the Puerto Rican people in determining their legal status in affiliation with the United States, and he is committed to being a partner along with the Puerto Rican people in that process. He believes they should have a seat at the table and a say in the decisions that affect their futures.