Jorge Ramos' Poison Pen Strikes Puerto Rico

November 11th, 2017 9:12 AM

I came to expect two things after Jorge Ramos’ latest visit to Puerto Rico, where he went in order to “see how things were after the hurricane”: a laughably biased segment on his weekly Al Punto show, along with an awful column. Upon reviewing both, I am more certain than ever that Jorge Ramos doesn’t care about Puerto Rico beyond its usefulness in furtherance of his agenda: his endless war on Donald Trump, the continued elevation of the Mayor of San Juan, and his longstanding advocacy for Puerto Rican independence.

Ramos makes his agenda known in the beginning, by imposing upon readers his rationale as to why he refers to Puerto Rico as a “country.” Ramos’ advocacy for independence (a position that no more than 5% of Puerto Ricans support on its best day) bookends the piece.

Ramos then proceeds to marvel both at a local communal kitchen, and at the bright markings of the tattooed millennials running it, before nodding his approval at the “happiness” and “unity” that emerged from the chaos. Ramos uses the “happiness” and “unity” displayed at the tattooed millennial community kitchen as a segue to Chef José Andrés, of whom he says:

I saw the same thing at a former beach club that has become the center of a unique social and gastronomic movement. The renowned Spanish-American chef José Andrés gathered dozens of chefs from across the island, and through his World Central Kitchen organization, they have prepared and distributed over 2 million meals to those most in need.

The day I visited the kitchen I came across dozens of volunteers assembling sandwiches — a sea of slices of bread and ham (and lots of mayonnaise). The group’s motto: “Make them as though they were for you.” Nearby, one of the cooks was seasoning a huge pot of chicken before mixing in yellow rice. An hour later, I boarded a food truck and saw all that food distributed to women and children in Loiza, one of the communities most affected by the hurricane. On that day, 148,000 meals were prepared and delivered, even to the most remote areas of the island. It is impossible to lose hope when you witness an endeavor like this.

There is no mention anywhere of the fact that José Andrés contracted with FEMA (funded by the American taxpayer) in order to deliver these meals. But Ramos needs this omission in order to cultivate his pro-independence narrative.

We then go into his assessment of the elected officials that Ramos has chosen to spotlight: Governor Ricardo Rosselló and San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz. It appears that Ramos has wisely chosen to walk back some of his earlier criticism of Rosselló, (displayed in this horrid interview) and offered an olive branch that Splinter’s English translation struck from the original Spanish:

They have different styles and I dare not criticize them because I have seldom seen two politicians work harder in my lifetime.  

We’ll see. It remains clear, though, that Ramos will continue to promote and elevate Mayor Cruz:

Yulín is a warrior who has been working non-stop since the hurricane hit, and sleeping on a mattress in a tiny corner of the main relief collection center in San Juan. She has relentlessly criticized President Donald Trump and has become the rebel voice of Puerto Ricans.

Having thrown more spotlight upon Mayor Cruz and tried to make her into the standard bearer of the Puerto Rican separatist movements despite her -22 approval rating, Ramos proceeds to close out his screed by bringing his bigotry against Puerto Rico into full bloom. First, by compressing 119 years of colonial neglect onto Donald Trump:

Both Roselló and Yulín complain about how unfairly Puerto Ricans have been treated. And they are right. Trump never nonchalantly lobbed rolls of paper towels into a crowd of hurricane victims in Texas or Florida, though he did so in Puerto Rico. And though Puerto Ricans have a representative in Congress, she cannot vote on any bill, even if it is related to the island. Puerto Ricans cannot vote in presidential elections unless they establish residency in one of the 50 states.

And then, by mocking Puerto Ricans’ status as U.S. passport holders and tut-tutting them for rejecting independence:

Hurricane María has proved that having an American passport is no guarantee that you will be treated like an American citizen. I doubt that Trump’s abuse and his disrespect toward Puerto Ricans after the hurricane will encourage the island’s movement for independence, but I must admit that, as a Latin American, it is difficult to understand why the bird doesn’t fly away when the cage door is open.

This natural disaster has made it crystal clear that the future of Puerto Rico will rely exclusively on Puerto Ricans. The people have recognized this, and they are rising to the challenge, united.

Ramos' obtuse support of independence blinds him to the only truth he nearly stumbled upon: that there is only ONE thing that will guarantee that Puerto Ricans are ultimately treated the same as their brethren on the mainland: admission as the 51st State. Instead, Ramos would surrender Puerto Rico to the Cuba-Venezuela axis.

That part about American passports not saving Puerto Rico comes off as a particularly ugly bit of passport envy - which some Latin Americans have historically displayed towards Puerto Ricans and Cubans, and which most recently came into display as gleeful schadenfreude when President Barack Obama ended the “wet foot-dry foot” program for Cubans entering into the United States.

It is telling and totally not surprising that Ramos advocates for Puerto Ricans to flee its American “cage” from one side of his mouth, while advocating for an open border from the other. In his view, Puerto Ricans should also have to endure oceans, rivers, borders, and ICE before being able to move freely about the United States.   

The column, a toxic stew of factual inaccuracies, historic revisionism, brazen partisanship and intra-Hispanic bigotry, stands as a monument to the grave dangers of writing a multinational column on things and places about which one knows nothing whatsoever. The problem is compounded by the fact that the lazy establishment media too often gets its cues on all matters Hispanic from Ramos, which means that this piece of hot garbage runs the risk of being regarded as canon and conventional wisdom.

In the interest of accurate reporting, it would be beneficial to all parties involved if media looked elsewhere for cues as to how to cover the island in the wake of what is still an ongoing disaster, and for Ramos to take Puerto Rico out of his mouth entirely.