Woefully Distorted Picture of Puerto Rico Painted by Jorge Ramos

September 28th, 2018 10:47 AM

A contingent of anti-Trump reporters recently made a point of traveling to Puerto Rico to produce “one-year anniversary” Hurricane María stories that were rife with content that deliberately either hid or maligned the magnitude of the federal aid that is largely responsible for powering the island’s ongoing recovery.

The Real America with Jorge Ramos show featured on Facebook Watch is a prime example of just this kind of dishonest, twisted reporting. Except for the segment that features Puerto Rico Secretary of Public Safety Héctor Pesquera speaking candidly about the big picture facing the island and its people as they bounce back from last year’s disaster, most of the show was plagued with huge information gaps.

For example, in his opening segment with the legendary physician José Vargas Vidot, Ramos played up a post-María spike in suicides in Puerto Rico, but left out the context that even so 2017 saw the third lowest number of suicides ever in Puerto Rico since 2000 (the suicide rate was the lowest it has ever been the year before the hurricane).

The same failure to provide critical context took place in his fawning interview with defeated Puerto Rico gubernatorial candidate Alexandra Lúgaro, who finished third (with 11% of the vote) in the island’s 2016 gubernatorial election. Out of the blue, he plays up Lúgaro saying that “I think that education is the root to all of our problems” and bemoaning the closure of scores of public schools throughout the island, while never mentioning that the school closures are primarily driven by a sharp decline in the island’s school-age population.

Ramos makes no mention whatsoever of the fact that Lúgaro was executive director of a Puerto Rico Department of Education contracting business, América Aponte and Associates (investigated for fraud in 2015 by the FBI) that benefited over the years from $46 million in federal funds. Nor does Ramos mention that under the leadership of Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló, the island is replacing excess and outdated public schools with a charter school and voucher program designed to provide better education than the damaged, run-down public schools that were shut down.

Ramos shows himself to be a fanboy for Lúgaro, failing to ask her any critical questions as well as letting her get away with a gratuitous attack on massive support for statehood by the island’s electorate.

ALEXANDRA LÚGARO, FORMER CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR: Most people choose statehood in Puerto Rico and we gotta also understand why they do choose statehood. We have been, for more than 500 years, a colony. First of Spain, now of the United States. We have been taught in schools to think we are little, to think we are few, that we cannot do things by ourselves.

So support for statehood, as Lúgaro sees it and Ramos lets go unchallenged, has nothing to do with a legitimate and logical assumption of the full rights and responsibilities of American citizenship after 120 years as a territory of the United States and more than 100 years as citizens, much less the natural, next political step up of every other state-sized territory that has ever been populated by U.S. citizens.

Throughout the show, Ramos completely avoids any mention of the tens of billions of dollars the U.S. Congress, federal agencies and President Donald Trump have approved and have been spending on Puerto Rico’s recovery. Instead, the message Ramos deceptively portrays to his audience (and so far almost a million people have seen the episode on Facebook) is that Puerto Ricans have basically been left to their own resources to rebuild and rebound after last year’s disaster.

JORGE RAMOS, HOST, REAL AMERICA: Before the next hurricane, things are not going to get much better here in Puerto Rico because the government is still bankrupt, thousands of people are leaving, and honestly Congress in Washington isn’t willing to do much more.

Facebook should be ashamed of partnering with Ramos in peddling such dishonest journalism.